With Christmas clearly in the rear-view mirror, do you ever wonder whether you could take the joy of Christmas through January? Christmas and the preparation for Christmas, in so many ways, is like a departure from reality. When reality hits in January there is bound to be a let-down.
The people who experienced that first Christmas and understood its meaning found a joy that did not fade. Do you want that joy throughout the year? I read a short little book called “Rescuing Christmas” by Carl Laferton. It helped me see that joy more clearly.
The Magi had three gifts to give this “king of the Jews.” These gifts tell you everything that you need to know to be overjoyed throughout the year and certainly beyond Christmas.
One gift was gold. Gold was the finest of metals and was used by the Jews after leaving Egypt to build the tabernacle. It was the metal of the Kings. Not only the Jews knew the stories and truth of the Bible so did those coming from the east. Micah’s prophecy of a Shepherd-Ruler was well known. So, this gift of gold was for a king.
For most of us, we hold this ruler at arms-length. We try to face the storms, fears, and evil without Him. We are the captain of our life and our course. Jesus is merely a crew member. We ask Him to show up to fix any damage to our boat. So, when Jesus comes at Christmas and knocks at the door and says, “I came, I came to be your Shepherd-Ruler and to give you the life you want and the joy you are searching for.” We say, “No thanks, Jesus, don’t crowd me.”
He came not just to rule but to rescue us from our sin and its consequences.
Frankincense is a perfume and a great gift to give a woman…but to give it to a boy? “For centuries in Judea, burning perfume was used to create a sweet-smelling cloud. Incense said, The Deity is near–God is here.” The frankincense points to the promise that in Jesus, God was coming to make his home with us. God coming to offer relationship to us. We all having a longing to be connected, a longing for more. Even if you have a beautiful marriage and partnership, you still have a restlessness. Augustine had the answer. It is the lesson of frankincense—that we are made to enjoy one relationship above all others. Everyone else will disappoint. And Christmas offers each of us an invitation to a friendship with God.
Myrrh, the third gift, was a liquid used for pain relief in extreme circumstances (like impending death) and for embalming bodies after death. This was one of the gifts that the Magi gave to Mary and Joseph in honor of their son, Jesus. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for this gift to given. It is like saying that your baby is going to die! Why was this the perfect gift? Why does this gift given at the birth of Jesus represent the most significant meaningful gift of all?
Leprosy may open the door to why the Myrrh was the most important gift. Leprosy was a disease and the outer sign of the inward reality – a symbol of sin. Not to say that anyone else was any better. But leprosy was a sign that most people had shut out God out of his world. The leper could not go to the place of the burning incense, to the place of relationship with God. The leper was a sober reminder that no human was able to enjoy that relationship with God because of the disease of sin. All need to be clean as the leper was made clean by Jesus and was now able to enjoy relationship with God.
When Jesus was on the cross, he was, for the first time of all eternity, separated from the Father. He experienced the loneliness and emptiness of a godless personal universe. His job, take the dirt of our sin and make us clean. It took the pure, sinless King to do that.
“We are rescued from our rejection of God, we are rescued for relationship with God, and we are rescued by the death of God.”
Truth be known, there are times when we think we are good enough; and if we are honest we worry we are not. Deep down we all wonder whether we are clean enough for eternity. I believe God says through the cross, you haven’t cleaned yourself enough…and you can’t…and you don’t need to.
All doubt is gone, and we can stop avoiding God because he frees us to be honest with God and others. It frees us to forgive and live a life that is heaven on earth. Jesus says to us come in, you are welcome, and I will remain in you. Your greatest Legacy to your children and everyone that touches you is to explain: The joy of myrrh.
Maybe then we can see the joy of Christmas in January and every month of the year. Tell your children this story and you will begin the journey of love Jesus demonstrates.
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This is a book about transforming your family legacy – both today and in generations to come. It is for Christian families who want to eliminate estate and capital gains taxes, maintain their current lifestyle, pass on an appropriate inheritance to their heirs, maximize giving to worthy ministries, create healthier family relationships and leave a lasting legacy to impact God’s kingdom.
By Joe Sturniolo
Christian Family Legacy and Wealth Planning
Joe believes that stronger families are the vehicle God uses to bring about significant impact for His Kingdom.
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