This was originally written on 1/29/2008
The Purpose of Christmas:
The celebration of the birth of the Savior of the world.
Luke 2:7-14 – 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
The Purpose of Giving:
Acts 20:35 – …and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
Matthew 2:1-2, 10-11 – 1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
There was a purpose in gifts that were presented on the day of Christ’s birth, which we celebrate the anniversary of every year on Christmas Day. These wise men did not travel from the Far East for nothing, nor did they just decide to give some gifts randomly—they had a purpose in the gifts they chose. These gifts had not only a practical purpose, but also a symbolic one.
First, we have the gold. Gold has an innate value monetarily, which I can imagine proved useful to His parents in their travels to keep the young Christ alive and away from the jealous king. However, it also was symbolic of Jesus’ royal bloodline, for gold is symbolic of Kingship. When the wise men showed up they said they were seeking him that was to be called the King of the Jews.
Next we have the Frankincense. Though most people think this an insignificant gift, it was not. According to the Jewish customs, frankincense was used in the worship of God in the Most Holy place in the Temple of God as well as during sacrificial offerings to God. It was symbolic of holiness. In this case, it was symbolic of Jesus being Holy and divine. He was also called Immanuel, which translates as “God with us,” (Matthew 1:23).
Lastly, we have the Myrrh. Myrrh is fragrant oil used to embalm bodies in preparation for burial. It was symbolic of death. This was presented to Jesus to symbolize Jesus’ purpose for coming to earth—to die as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).
Therefore, we see that the gifts presented at Jesus’ birth not only had a practical purpose in them, but also had a deeper symbolism and personal connection to Him that rendered the gift greater than the presents themselves. Perhaps we should take more time in selecting the gifts we present to others in the name of Christmas instead of just spending money aimlessly to save face. Might we consider investing in something the individual would find more intimate, more personal.