Each of the three gifts of the magi - gold, frankincense, and myrrh - shows up exactly one more time in the story of Jesus. The gold, given to show His wealth and His worth, is redistributed to us to show our wealth and worth. The myrrh, intended to mark His humanity, is used to show His full embrace of His humanity. The frankincense, brought to anoint Him, is poured out to prepare Him.
On their surface, these don't really seem like good gifts to give a baby. They aren't practical, and they certainly aren't obvious. There are a lot of other things that a human baby, even a divine human baby, could use. But after we look at the way that Jesus uses these gifts, we see just how perfect they actually were.
And this is good news.
Because I don't know about you, but I often struggle with what I bring to Jesus. It doesn't feel like much at all, like anything, really, and I often find myself thinking how impractical or imperfect a gift that it is. I wonder what He'd ever do with my gift, and sometimes? Sometimes, that keeps me from bringing it at all.
But Jesus uses the gifts that He's given. He uses every one of them. Every time He received something, no matter how strange or weird or un-useful it seems to us, it always comes back into His story somewhere. Just once. One gift - one scene - one story. And it always reveals, in some way, His glory.
The story of the wise men is an encouragement to all of us. It made sense to them to bring what they brought, even if it seems strange to us. They were going off of who they believed that Jesus was, what they were told about the Messiah and this Promised babe.
We do the same thing. I don't think any one of us takes something to Jesus without recognition of who He is. It's not like we just take Him some random gift card because we don't know what to give Him. We take Him something that seems meaningful to us, something that makes sense to us to give Him, even when we don't really understand what He might possibly do with it.
And then...He does something with it.
He does something with it that helps the world to understand something about who He is. He does something with it that helps the world understand who they are in Him. He does something with it that reveals His glory or His nature or His heart to a world that is desperately seeking Him, profoundly in need of a touch of Heaven.
As I think about the gifts of the wise men this year, I can't help but think about my own gifts. So often, they seem like so little. So often, they seem so weird. But I know, from the stories of the gold, frankincense, and myrrh, that they always turn up again somewhere in His pages. And as I think about the gifts of the wise men this year, I wonder exactly where my own gifts have turned up. I wonder how Jesus has used them or what He has planned for them. I wonder if I'll ever know.
But that's okay. I don't really have to know, I don't suppose. I simply believe...the way three wise men did so long ago.