All about IT
It’s Christmas time. The time of the year where everyone is super joyful; exchanging presents, and gathering together for parties.
It’s also the time of the year that all of my social media accounts blow up with an absurd amount of religious debates.
The controversy is extremely obnoxious, yet at the same time it is very real. There is the “Happy Holidays” versus “Merry Christmas” debate, the “Christmas” versus “Xmas” debate, and the “nativity scene” debate.
Amongst all of the back and forth arguments, one debate rises far above the others, and it has been so for nearly two thousand years. This debate is over the identity of the man Jesus Christ.
Some say Jesus was simply a myth and never actually existed. Others say he was a great moral teacher while many consider him a man who was completely insane. Then there are those who believe that Jesus was God incarnate.
Very recently, I preached a sermon at Rancho Community Church in Temecula, California, where I spoke about the wise men who came and gave Jesus three gifts. In my sermon, I broke down the biblical text and showed how the wise men were actually presenting the gifts according to who Jesus was and what he would do.
While we do not know much about the wise men from the Bible, we do know that they must have been very intelligent to find Jesus based off of the stars, and must have also been very wise because they were advisors to King Herod. We do also know that they had had dreams about the birth of a new king, and decided to go visit him. After they had arrived at their destination, the Bible describes how they responded:
“And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”
Many people can tell you that the gifts were gold, frankincense, and myrrh. At the same time, the majority of those people have no idea what frankincense and myrrh are.
I am about to present to you that these men, in their wisdom, gave Jesus these gifts for very specific reasons. Let’s examine each gift individually.
First off is the gold. While many people have items made of gold today, gold at that time was mainly possessed by kings:
“He who is the blessed and only sovereign, the King of kings and the Lord of lords”
1 Timothy 6:15
Jesus is King. Yet He is much more than that, He is the King of kings which means that He is God. The wise men, having never met Jesus before, fell down and worshiped him. Therefore, they clearly understood the deity of Christ.
The implications of this reality are absolutely endless. The greatest one of all though is for those who struggle to believe or follow religious systems. The fact is that Jesus being God incarnate separates Christianity from every other religion in the world.
In other religions, people are called to attempt to rise up to God-like status through morality, meditation, and the like.
In Hinduism, people attempt to appease the gods through prayer. In Buddhism, people strive to attain nirvana by living a good moral life. In Judaism, Mormonism and all other monotheistic religions apart from Christianity, people try to earn God’s favor and ultimately salvation through following all of the rules.
Yet in Christianity, rather than people trying to rise up to God, God comes down to us as a man. Therefore, He suffered as all humans have, lived the perfect life that we never could, and died the death that we all deserve.
Secondly, the wise men gave Jesus frankincense which was a spice used in incense. The only men who used frankincense were the high priests in religious ceremony. By giving this spice to Jesus, they were identifying him as high priest:
“The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”
Jesus is our high priest. He is a religious figurehead who is far more respectable and moral than any pastor, priest, rabbi, imam, or monk could ever be because He is God incarnate. Since He is God and our high priest, Jesus, as the Bible says, is able to eternally make intercession for us.
There is no need to go to a priest to ask for forgiveness because Jesus is our high priest. We can go straight to Jesus for forgiveness of sin and for a man to follow in how we live our lives.
Lastly, Jesus received myrrh. This was truly one of the most depressing gifts ever presented to someone in history. I’m not even sure if it could be considered a gift. Why you ask? The reason is that myrrh is an oil that, at that time, was used solely to embalm dead bodies.
The wise man giving this to Jesus at his birth would be like me wrapping up a shovel and a blank death certificate for a baby shower. It’s quite strange when you stop to consider it.
Nonetheless, the wise men knew and were revealing that Jesus would likely die an early death. The wise men knew that Jesus would one day sacrifice Himself for our sins:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life”
Jesus is our sacrifice. He sacrificed Himself because we sinned and we deserved punishment for it. God is just, and as a result, must punish sin; yet He’s a loving God as well.
Therefore, He took the punishment of sin upon Himself rather than on us. And just as a person must sign a legal document when it comes to the law, we must realize that we are sinners and accept that Jesus’ sacrifice is sufficient to cover our sin, and “sign the legal document” by having faith in Jesus.
Jesus is without a doubt different than the divine being in any other religion. He came as a human being, loved unconditionally, and died humbly. In this Christmas season as many celebrate the birth of Jesus and many others deny the divinity of Jesus, the wise men show us who He really is. Jesus is our God, high priest, and sacrifice.