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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Saturday Sermonette - The Wisemen's Gifts

When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way. Matthew 2:9-12, NKJV.

(continued from last week)

Excited voices sounded from outside Mary and Joseph's small stone house in Bethlehem. Curious, she stopped washing their evening dishes and walked to the open door. She peered through the darkness at the train of camels and men who made their way down the street toward her.

She reached down to stop the small Boy at her side from running to meet them. "Jesus, no! Come back inside. Those camels could step on You."

The Toddler stopped, pointing at the travelers with one hand and grasping His mother's hand with the other. "See?"

"You can see them from here, Son. Joseph, come look at this."

"Who is it, Mary?"

"I don't know. Oh, my; are they stopping here? We don't have room for all of them to sleep in here, but I could go to the marketplace and get some more food for them, if the vendors haven't closed their businesses for the day."

Joseph pushed his wife and Jesus into the house. He stepped forward and bowed. "Shalom, friends. May we offer you a little to eat? Our house will not hold all of you, but as many as will fit are welcome to come in to sleep."

One of the strangely dressed men dismounted and approached him, straightening his turban that had slipped out of place. "Shalom. It is the Child we've come to see, sir," he said with a strong eastern accent.

Joseph frowned. "The Child?"

"Yes. We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him."

"What star?"

The man looked up. "Hm. I don't see it now, but it was right up there just moments ago, directly over this house, brighter than the morning star and evening star combined. May we come in and speak to you and your family?"

Joseph stepped aside, pulling Mary with him. "Please enter. Our house is yours."

Their new friend turned to his companions and signaled them to follow him. Their servants carried ornamental boxes and jars behind the visitors. Together they crowded into the one-room home and knelt on the dirt floor in front of Jesus, pressing their foreheads to the ground.

The Child touched each man's shoulder and stepped back to His mother's side.

The first man, the apparent spokesman, lifted his head. "Divine King, we have brought gifts for You." He motioned the closest servants forward and opened the lid of one of the boxes that had each taken two strong men to carry. Gold coins spilled over the sides as they set it on the floor.

Joseph and Mary gasped.

Again, the leader waved servants forward, and he broke the wax seal of a jar painted with trees and flowers. The spicy sweet odor of frankincense filled the room. The second jar, decorated with gold and silver leaves, held the equally aromatic scent of myrrh.

"What is this?" Mary breathed, her heart alternately stopping and then thumping like a thousand galloping donkeys.

"Our gifts, lady. Your Son is King of the Jews, isn't He?"

"Y-yes. How did you know?"

"We have been following the star of the King for many months. He is the greatest King to have been born, and we had to see Him and worship Him."

Joseph cleared his throat. "Yes--Gold for a king; I understand that. But why the frankincense and myrrh?"

The visitor looked puzzled. "Do you not know frankincense is for one who is holy and righteous? And myrrh for the burial cloths?"

Mary shivered. "Of course," she murmured.

Joseph stared at her, then turned his gaze back to their guests. "We thank you, then. May we offer you a place to sleep? We don't have ...."

"No, but we thank you. We have to leave immediately. The ruler in Jerusalem said the King we sought would be in Bethlehem, but he wanted us to return and let him know where we found Him. An angel appeared to us in a dream said that we should go by another route and not return to tell that ruler, that he was not as benevolent as he tried to look. Therefore, we bid you farewell." He bowed low, and he and his followers silently left the house, mounted their beasts, and made their way into the night.

Joseph turned to Mary. "That was an odd visit. And these gifts! Mary, we have enough to support us for all of our lives."

Mary lifted her eyes to her husband's. "Jesus does. These gifts are for Him."

Joseph's eyes widened. "Oh; yes, of course. How could I have forgotten?"

(continued next week)

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