"On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him." — Matthew 2:11
Many Christmas cards feature a decorated Christmas tree with colorful presents beneath its branches. Of course we love Christmas gift-giving, but attractive packages can make us forget how the custom of Christmas gifts started and what it signifies.
Most likely, Christmas-gift giving stems from the story about wise men from the east who came to visit Jesus after his birth in Bethlehem. Following a star and a prophecy, they arrived at last. The star stood over the place where Jesus and his parents were staying, and the visitors dismounted their dusty camels and entered the house.
Matthew says that when they saw the child Jesus, “they bowed down and worshiped him.” He uses this expression several times throughout his gospel to describe people’s reactions to Jesus. The wise men also came bearing lavish gifts.
Mystery surrounds this story, but it teaches us several important things. Like the wise men, we too should bow and worship Jesus as King. We should also offer gifts to him, the best of all that we have, and, most important, our hearts and our service. That’s the least we can do for the One who brings us the choicest gift of all: salvation and new life.