It must have been a long journey. Twenty-four months on camel back eating dust and sand. Two years following a star that pointed out not just the birth of a king, but the birth of THE King. Now these wise men, these magi, have arrived in the sleepy little town of Bethlehem. I wonder if they were taken aback by the humble surroundings. Were they dumbstruck by the fact that royalty did not dwell in the Herodian Palace, but in what was most likely a two room flat in an unimportant town? I bet they asked themselves, "Is this the right place?" Nevertheless they proceeded to the appointed destination.
Now put yourself in Mary's shoes. A caravan of perfect strangers arrive at your house asking if this where the King of the Jews live? That must have been an amazing conversation.
In the most humble of dwellings, a King receives His court. The king is a toddler and the court is a group of complete strangers from thousands of miles away. God loves to work through contradictions, and Jesus came to point out that God shows up in the most unlikely of places
But notice the wise men are truly wise, for they do not let doubt arrest their worship. They not only worship the God-child, they unveil the gifts they brought to Him. Expensive gifts. Thoughtful gifts. Gifts that not only proclaimed His royalty, but foretold His death. These were not only gifts of sacrifice, but gifts of worship.
As the Christmas season approaches, I have been consumed with what gifts to give to family and friends. After having a year of moving expenses, picking up two car payments, and going from two sources of income to one, I have been preoccupied with the fact that this Christmas may not be as nice as previous ones. But as I prepare my sermon this week God is pricking my heart. I have been convicted by the fact that my focus is on the wrong things. It's not about what I give, but about what God gave and continues to give. I've been reminded that most of those moving expenses were paid for by a loving congregation, that my job with it's benefits of parsonage and utilities pays nearly as much as the previous two incomes did. That while I have two car payments, I have one less college loan payment. God has given me so much this year, not to mention the bottomless well of grace that I drink from everyday.
So while the gifts under the tree may not be as numerous or expensive, my focus is elsewhere. It's on what can I give Jesus this year. He gives me so much, I feel compelled to give to Him. Not to earn grace, but because of my love for Him. What can I give Jesus? I can give Him the same things the Wise Men gave Him... worship and sacrifice. Worship as my God and Savior and sacrifice in the form of not living for me but living for Him.
I sacrifice my desires to His will.
I sacrifice my dreams to His plans.
I sacrifice my self-reliance to His care.
I sacrifice my family to His upbringing.
Now, what will you give Jesus this year?