It seems our tradition of giving gifts traces back to the fact that the Magi brought gifts for Jesus. It was custom back then when you presented yourself to a King that you offered gifts in homage to Him. And so they did. The gifts were out of their treasures it says in Matthew 2. And they were very unique to Jesus.
Gold, in honor of a King. It is meaningful to me that this was the first gift mentioned. He was first and foremost a King. And from a practical standpoint this was the means by which the family financed their trip to Egypt when they escaped Herod.
Incense was a gift for a priest. It was used at times of intercession before God on behalf of the people. Mary and Joseph may have used this in family worship to teach Jesus as a boy.
Myrrh was the spice used for burials. It was a foreshadowing of the purpose for His life, to die on our behalf. It took most poor people a lifetime of saving up little by little to have enough myrrh by the time they died. This would have begun the collection for Jesus, like receiving a savings bond at birth that matures later.
As we close in on Christmas day, the question I have is not what gifts we are bringing to Him, but whether or not we are recognizing what the Magi did? Do we humble ourselves before the King of Kings and honor Him as such? Do we rejoice over and praise Him as the one mediator between God and man? Do we remember that He sits at the right hand of God the Father interceding for us as a priest right now, today? Do we, as admonished in Romans 12:1,2, offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to the One who died in our place? In doing so, we die with Him so we also may be raised with Him to life.
If there would have been a King on the throne of Israel in Jesus' day, He would have sat on that throne legally as the next one in line of the kingly dynasty. And through His mother's blood line, He also had a tie to the priestly line. He embodied all the symbolism of the gifts offered Him. And He still embodies them today. He is our King. He is our Priest. He is our Sacrifice.
That is good news. So come let us worship and bow down before Him and offer ourselves before Him as is the suitable, appropriate response to Him.