As we continue to celebrate this Advent Season, I want to share with you a reading from one of the books available on our Book Wall here at Sojourn, John Piper's "Good News of Great Joy".
Below is yesterday's reading, and I found it helpful because our Christmas has become so centered on the giving and getting of gifts. Ask any kid what they think of when they hear Christmas and you will find that the most common answer will be presents.
Well, God gave us the ultimate gift in the person of Jesus and we are forever grateful! But what about us giving presents to Him? Piper helps us think about why the wise men gave gifts to Christ and why should, too.
Read and worship.
December 10: GOLD, FRANKINCENSE, AND MYRRH
"When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh." —Matthew 2:10–11
God is not served by human hands as though he needed anything (Acts 17:25). The gifts of the magi are not given by way of assistance or need-meeting. It would dishonor a monarch if foreign visitors came with royal care-packages. Nor are these gifts meant to be bribes. Deuteronomy 10:17 says that God takes no bribe. Well, what then do they mean? How are they worship? The gifts are intensifiers of desire for Christ himself in much the same way that fasting is. When you give a gift to Christ like this, it’s a way of saying, “The joy that I pursue (verse 10) is not the hope of getting rich with things from you. I have not come to you for your things, but for yourself. And this desire I now intensify and demonstrate by giving up things, in the hope of enjoying you more, not things. By giving to you what you do not need, and what I might enjoy, I am saying more earnestly and more authentically, ‘You are my treasure, not these things.’” I think that’s what it means to worship God with gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. May God take the truth of this text and waken in us a desire for Christ himself. May we say from the heart, “Lord Jesus, you are the Messiah, the King of Israel. All nations will come and bow down before you. God wields the world to see that you are worshiped. Therefore, whatever opposition I may find, I joyfully ascribe authority and dignity to you, and bring my gifts to say that you alone can satisfy my heart, not these.”
You can find "Good News of Great Joy" on our Book Wall for $5 or here for free!