“Then Herod secretly called the magi, and ascertained from them the time the star appeared…and lo, the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them, until it came and stood over where the Child was….And they came into the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshiped Him; and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their own country by another way. Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, ‘Arise and take the Child and His mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.’ And he arose and took the Child and His mother by night, and departed for Egypt;…Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its environs, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the magi.” ~ Matthew 2:7, 9b, 11-14, 16
Most people are familiar with the story of the wise men from the East following the star to Jesus. Most people can even name the three gifts these magi brought for the baby King: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But how many people know why these gifts? And how many people know what immediately followed after the Child was worshiped and the gifts presented?
Why these gifts from the magi? The gift of gold acknowledged the royalty of this young Child, the King. Frankincense represented His priesthood, for we are told that Jesus is our High Priest (see the book of Hebrews). He would offer the ultimate sacrifice to pay for the sins of all men and to restore our relationship with God. And myrrh was a spice used in burials. This Child King was born to die for the sins of the world. These three gifts tell us that this Babe, born in a manger, would be our King, our Priest, and our perfect sacrificial Lamb.
Immediately after the wise men left the house, an angel instructed Joseph to flee to Egypt. They were to “run for their lives”. Joseph wisely obeyed and took the family to Egypt. And then, all hell broke loose upon the town of Bethlehem and the surrounding area.
King Herod did not appreciate the joyful news from the wise men of a King being born- the Christ, the “King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2). He was King in Judea, and he would not share his position. So, after ascertaining from the magi the time the star had first appeared (two years before), and realizing that the magi were not going to tell him exactly where this King had been found, Herod flew into a murderous rage and ordered the murders of every boy child aged two and under, living in and around the town of Bethlehem.
Oh, what sorrow and heartbreak descended upon the city of David. Two years before, angels had filled the skies, proclaiming the birth of “a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” ~ Luke 2:11b (KJV), and singing praises, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” ~ Luke 2:14 (KJV) Now there was “heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping [for] her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.” ~ Matthew 2:18b (KJV)
Lamentation. Weeping. Great mourning. No comfort. Death because of sinful men and wickedness. Hell breaking loose upon the earth.
Jesus, our “Saviour, which is Christ the Lord”, came as a little baby, born in a dusty stable amongst stinky, loud animals, and sleeping in their feed trough. He was worshiped by lowly shepherds and highly esteemed wise men. He fed the five thousand, walked on water, healed the sick, brought the dead back to life. He was unjustly charged, tried, beaten, and condemned to die, being completely innocent, yet choosing the cross. For us. For you and for me. Death because of sinful men and wickedness. Hell breaking loose upon the earth.
Yet our Saviour’s story does not end at the cross. Jesus conquered death, and hell, and rose on the third day, leaving behind an empty tomb and more than five hundred eye witnesses to testify that He is, in fact, alive again. Forever and always.
He went to be with His Father in heaven, “to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, [there] ye may be also.” ~ John 14:2b-3 (KJV)
In Jesus, there is payment for and forgiveness of sin. There is grace, love, and mercy. There is the hope and promise of life after death, of a place prepared in heaven for us, with Him. Truth, comfort, joy, hope, and peace are found only through Jesus.
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” ~ Revelation 21:4 (KJV)