Eyewitness to Christmas: The Wise Men Worship the Christ Child

After a long journey, the wise men have finally arrived at their destination. Can you imagine the commotion as they ride up and tie their camels to the hitching posts?

“We may well imagine their expectations were raised to find this royal babe, though slighted by the nation, yet honourably attended at home; and what a disappointment it was to them when they found a cottage was his palace, and his own poor mother all the retinue he had! “ {Mathew Henry Commentary}

What must Joseph and Mary’s face have shown as they opened the door to their visitors?

“They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother.”  {Matthew 2:11}

Mary is holding her child, when they enter the house.

Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him.” {Matthew 2:11}


Immediately they are overcome with emotion. They are standing before the Lord. They are experiencing all his greatness and their hearts overflow.

“However, these wise men were so wise as to see through this veil, and in this despised babe to discern the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father; they did not think themselves balked or baffled in their enquiry; but, as having found the King they sought, they presented themselves first, and then their gifts, to him.”  {Mathew Henry Commentary}

Immediately they kneel and worship the Lord.

“They presented themselves to him: they fell down, and worshipped him. We do not read that they gave such honour to Herod, though he was in the height of his royal grandeur; but to this babe they gave this honour, not only as to a king (then they would have done the same to Herod), but as to a God. “ {Mathew Henry Commentary}


“Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh.” {Matthew 2:11}

After worshipping the Lord, they present him with gifts.

They presented their gifts to him. In the eastern nations, when they did homage to their kings, they made them presents…The gifts they presented were, gold, frankincense, and myrrh, money, and money’s-worth. Providence sent this for a seasonable relief to Joseph and Mary in their present poor condition.” {Mathew Henry Commentary}

They gave the Lord three gifts. Three gifts which are valuable, but also have considerable symbolism. The three gifts are the reason many believe there were three Wise Men. Some scholars believe the Wise Men or Magi were from different regions of the east and of different age categories, but this is speculation and lore, so we’ll leave it for another time.


So what were the three gifts?

Gold—is valuable and of great worth; symbolizes virtue; symbol of an earthly king

Frankincense—often used as a perfume; symbolizes prayer; a symbol of a deity

Myrrh—a commonly used anointing oil. Symbolizes suffering; often used as an embalming ointment; sacraments often are scented with myrrh

These gifts may have been as much a medicinal use as they were a tribute to the king.

“These were the products of their own country; what God favours us with, we must honour him with. Some think there was a significancy in their gifts; they offered him gold, as a king, paying him tribute, to Caesar, the things that are Caesar’s; frankincense, as God, for they honoured God with the smoke of incense; and myrrh, as a Man that should die, for myrrh was used in embalming dead bodies.” {Mathew Henry Commentary}

If we think back to the Old Testament, the Lord looked at the heart of the giver, such as with Abel.  These wise men gave freely with all their hearts and the best they had.

The tradition of giving gifts to a king has been mentioned before, if we look back to when the Queen of Sheba visited King David. {1 Kings 2; 2 Chronicles 9}

The Wise Men were following the custom of their time. They first worshipped the King on their own before offering gifts of their region to the king of the Jews.

Can you imagine the honor of worshiping the Christ Child as the Wise Men did?

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