On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
What is the best Christmas gift you ever received? Who gave it to you?
When I was growing up, we moved around a lot because my father was in the Air Force. One of the many places we lived was in Puerto Rico. It was an amazing place and I enjoyed everything about it. But my favorite thing about living there was they celebrated El Dia de los Reyes Magos or Three Kings Day! To a kid, it was another opportunity to get more presents and get a longer vacation from school. To retailers it was another opportunity to make more money! It was like extending the Christmas season by 12 days as the celebration is on January 6th. But the holiday is actually a religious holiday also called Epiphany which means ‘appearance’ or ‘manifestation’. It mainly commemorates the visitation of the Magi to the child Jesus and thereby Jesus’ physical manifestation to the gentiles. Children all over Puerto Rico celebrate on the eve of Three Kings Day by filling up a box with fresh-cut grass and placing it under their bed for the camels who are carrying the three kings. When they wake up in the morning the grass is gone and in its place are presents left by the Three Kings!
For centuries, many have been fascinated with the Magi and many traditions have circulated. Most of the tradition is speculation since the Bible does not give a lot of detail. We know there were Magi, although we are not sure how many. Our introductory passage says that they came to the ‘house’ rather than stable and they saw the ‘child’ rather than baby so some commentators believe Jesus could have been as old as two years when the Magi saw Him. What we do know for sure is that they worshiped Him and presented their gifts, gold, francincense and myrrh. Many scholars have found symbolic value in the three gifts–gold suggesting royalty, incense divinity, and myrrh
the Passion and burial. Still others believe the gifts were costly but not uncommon presents to bring to a dignitary and may have just been God’s providence helping the very poor family to finance the trip to Egypt. For right after the Magi leave, Joseph has a dream.
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
I believe God had Matthew include this passage as an epiphany or manifestation of God’s providential and supernatural care! He knew of the poor couple’s need and of the soon coming danger due to Herod’s jealousy. So He set in motion the journey of Magi with these costly gifts possibly up to two years before to miraculously provide for their escape. I also believe that God in His providence orchestrates this kind of miraculous provision for us today.
One December a few years ago, we were financially the tightest we had ever been. My husband was working extra jobs to help ends meet. Interestingly, I had read the book George Muller From Bristol: His Life of Prayer and Faith by A. T. Pierson (Kregel Publications, 1999) earlier in the year before entering this financial crunch. Now as I look back on it, I find that my reading the book seemed almost prophetic. I gleaned from this great man of faith to be generous, a person of the Word, of prayer and one who trusts in God for everything. Wanting to trust God, as this hero of faith did, we had determined during this lean time, we were not going to go into debt by using credit cards to purchase our necessities. But we were just going to trust God to provide exactly what we needed. I remember one evening we drove to the grocery store to purchase a gallon of milk with the change we had scraped up. We were completely out and the kids needed it for breakfast the next morning. As we were driving home, I remarked to my husband that I was grateful for the milk but we only had enough cereal for tomorrow’s breakfast and then what were we going to do? I didn’t think anymore about it until the next morning. After the last kid had left for school, I was cleaning up the breakfast dishes and my doorbell rang. I went to the door and it was a good friend who was carrying two full garbage bags. She said, “I have something for you.” We went into the kitchen and she proceeded to empty the bags, putting the contents onto my counter. One after another she continued to take several boxes of cereal out of the bags until my counter was full! (There was every kind of cereal, even the sugar kind I don’t normally buy which really blessed the kids!) My eyes began to fill with tears as I looked at all the cereal. I shared with her my conversation with my husband from the night before. It may sound silly, but I have never been more convinced in my life, that there is a God and He cares about every need we have. Just so you don’t think I made this up, attached is this picture I took.
(When I need a boost of faith, I use it as a screen saver!) Were we starving? No. Was there family or church member’s from which we could have asked for help? Yes. Could we have used a credit card? Yes. But we wanted to live a life of faith and trust God. My friend had purchased the cereal with coupons and received some amazing deals. She said she had been meaning to bring the cereal for a while but only just found the time to do so. But I know it was God’s perfect timing to show me once again that He is a generous Father who provides for all our needs. So every time I see the Magi in a nativity set, I think of how God miraculously provides for those He loves. And yes, the best Christmas gift I ever received was cereal from God, hand delivered by my friend! LH
(Many of the posts on this website are accompanied by a “Just Say Know” Bible Study broken up into 5 days. The Study is designed to take you no more than 10 minutes each day.) Please feel free to leave comments! If you read His Word, you will truly be Better Off!
“Just Say Know” Bible Study
Day 1 Read Matthew 6:25-33
- In this passage, what are we not supposed to worry about?
- In verse 26 and 28, what examples of God’s provision does Jesus give?
- According to verse 32, who knows what we need?
- Rather than worrying about what we need, what are we supposed to put our time and energy into?
Day 2 Read 1 Kings 17:1-16
- What or who provided food for Elijah in this passage?
- Ultimately who was the one providing for Elijah?
- Why would God ask a poor widow to give food?
- Why was the widow ok with giving the water but not the bread?
- Has God ever asked you to give away something of which you only had a little?
Day 3 Read Psalm 78:11-32
- According to this passage, in what ways did God provide for the children of Israel while they were in the wilderness?
- Why do you think God was so angry with them?
- What were the consequences of their unbelief?
- Why do you believe God responded so strongly?
Day 4 Read Philippians 4:14-19; 2 Corinthians 9:7-13; Psalm 37:25-26
- For what is the Apostle Paul thanking the Philippians?
- In Philippians 4:19, as the Philippians help meet other’s needs, what will God do for them?
- What Kind of a giver does God love?
- According to 2 Corinthians 9: 8, what is God able to do?
- In 2 Corinthians 9: 11, why does God give us an abundance?
- Who is talking in this Psalm 37 passage? (Hint: Look at the beginning of this Psalm)
- What has he never seen?
- Instead, what has he noticed about the righteous?
Day 5 Read John 6:1-13
- Why do you think verse 6 is included in this passage?
- Contrast Phillip’s response in verse 7 with Andrew’s response in verses 8 and 9.
- How many people were fed?
- From where did Andrew get the five loaves of bread and two fish?
- How much food did everyone get? Ho much was left over?
- Why do you suppose this is the only one of Jesus’ miracles mentioned in all four gospels?