The magi recorded in Matthew 2 brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Jesus. These wise men set all of Jerusalem abuzz with their inquiry: “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2). When they left to return to their homes, they walked off the pages of Scripture into folklore and mythology.
But what do you think happened to those gifts?
Myrrh is used for burial. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus used 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes to anoint Jesus’ body after His death (John 19:38-42). Where did he get the myrrh? Evidence suggests that Joseph was a rich man, so it could very well have been his own purchase. But we don’t know. What happened to the gold? What happened to the frankincense? Did Mary keep them treasured in her house, much like she kept memories of Christ’s birth treasured in her heart? (Luke 2:19)
Or did these things become a way to support Mary and Joseph as they raised the son of God? Not long after the magi’s visit, Mary, Joseph, and toddler Jesus fled Herod’s wrath (Matthew 2:13-14). They lived as refugees in Egypt, then started over again in Nazareth years later.
People from another culture and country gave generously in worship. Could it be that God used the offerings and gifts of people far removed to care for His Son earth? And could it be that God still works that same way, using our offerings and gifts to care for His people today?
The magi‘s gifts went the way all good gifts—off to make a difference, off to change a life, off to serve God‘s higher purpose—without a record on this side of heaven. Won’t it be great to track the impact of those gifts in heaven someday? We’ll discover the lives and stories of blessing and impact because worshippers filled with wonder brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh and shared it with Jesus.
But after all this hypothesis, I love that we just don’t know. We just don’t know what happened to those gifts. We have a record of faithful worship through lavish generosity. We have the documentation that our Messiah received this worship. And we have the confidence that one of the ways that God includes His people in His work is through generous giving.
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”
—1 Timothy 6:17-19
And a footnote: Every December, our church hosts a campaign called “First Gift.” People who feel called share their first gift of Christmas with God, with all proceeds directly funding mission outreaches in the next year. I think the magi would approve.
If you earmarked the first gift of Christmas for God, what would it be?