On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
I’ve just arrived back home after Christmas shopping in Norwich. I left it rather late this year, and whereas I normally hit Amazon, I was a bit concerned that my presents would not arrive in time, so took to the high street instead. Norwich was very, very busy, packed with shoppers buying gifts for their loved ones. In some ways, it made me rather sad, as the busyness is surely a reflection of the commercialisation of Christmas. In other ways, though, it warmed my heart to see people buying gifts. It’s not so much the physical gifts that are important at Christmas, or indeed at anytime, but the attitude behind those presents. People spend time and money looking for presents for people because they love them.
At the first Christmas, Jesus was visited by the wise men, who famously came bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. There is a very real feeling here that they spared no expense when presenting gifts to Christ. But, as with our gift giving, the motivation of the wise men is important. Matthew tells us in today’s verse that as well as presenting Jesus with gifts, they also bowed down and worshipped him. Whilst the gifts were a clear sign of their love and respect for the baby boy, they were simply an expression of their attitude towards him, a symbol of their worship.
At Christmas this year, as we give and receive presents, reflect on what you are giving to Christ this Christmas. Will you, like the wise men, bow down before him and worship him? Will you give yourself completely to him? Or will you enjoy the giving and receiving of presents, but put aside the real reason for the season?