Revive Our Hearts Podcast

— Audio Player —

Gifts for the King

Dannah Gresh: What you give to the Lord is less about the gift and more about your heart. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth reminds us . . .

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Jesus doesn’t need the gifts that we bring Him: our money, our time, our effort, our sacrifice, our service. Our gifts express the worth and the value that we place on Jesus, that we recognize Him as being of great, supreme, all-surpassing worth! Our gifts, our giving, they represent our devotion to Him!

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Choosing Gratitude, for January 7, 2021. I’m Dannah Gresh. What kind of gift would you give a king—not just any king, but King Jesus!? We’re going to take a close look at the gifts the wise men brought baby Jesus and why they were important. 

Nancy is continuing in the series “Of Wise Men, Kings, and Providence.”Of course, if you’ve missed any of the episodes so far, you can go back and find them at ReviveOurHearts.com, or download the Revive Our Hearts podcast, and they’ll always be at your fingertips. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: I saw an article recently on the Internet that was called“The Twenty-One Best Newborn Baby Gifts of This Year,” and the subtitle was:“Choose the Perfect Present to Celebrate New Life.” 

Here are some of the things that were on that list: a wooden name puzzle, a chamois baby blanket, a faux fur kitty, baby hooded towel, an organic monthly milestone swaddle blanket, baby’s first year memory book. There were teether toys. There were bandanna bibs. There was a super soft, soother bunny . . . and way more . . . the best newborn baby gifts!

I love giving gifts to newborn babies and their mommas. Sometimes, depending on who it is, I’ll put together a gift that is something a baby can use, like clothes or diapers—especially if it’s a first child or if it’s been awhile since that momma had a baby.

Recently, I gave to a friend of mine who had a baby (she had two boys and then she had a little girl several years later) a framed print that I had made up with the baby’s name and a verse that relates to that name, little Grace. 

Well, I think of all the baby gifts I’ve given over many years; most of them aren’t on the “Best Newborn Baby Gifts of the Year” list. But all these gifts pale in comparison with the gifts that were brought to Jesus when He was born, am I right? Like, what would be appropriate to bring for the Son of God being born? If ever there was a baby who doesn’t need anything, it was Jesus!

This week we’re looking at Matthew chapter 2, and I want to invite you to turn there in your Bible. We’re going to see what you bring the baby who has everything. These are gifts I never thought about bringing or giving to a newborn, and you probably haven’t either. But we’re going to talk about their significance. 

Matthew chapter 2. Let me read the beginning of the passage, and then we’ll come to the part we’re going to look at today. Verse 1, 

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem.

We’ve been studying this passage this week. Yesterday was the day we saw that many faith traditions celebrate Epiphany, which is celebrating the revelation of God to the Gentiles; the wise men were Gentiles. This was not at the manger, as we often see in Christmas scenes. This was some time after Jesus was born, still little, but not a baby in the manger. 

The wise men came, and this is celebrated in something called Epiphany. That’s why we’re airing this series this week. 

[They] came to Jerusalem, saying, “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.” 

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet . . .”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way.” (vv. 2–5, 7–9).

As we mentioned earlier in this series, the trip from the East where these men had come from to Jerusalem, was probably (depending where they had come from exactly) in excess of a thousand miles. They’d been on a long, hard journey!

That’s why we think there were probably not just three of them, but probably a whole escort of military horses, steeds, accompanying them on this long trek. Now, the trek from Jerusalem to Bethlehem is about six miles, not far at all.

In fact, the Life Action Ministries Camp that is run by our parent ministry is about six miles just down the road from where we are recording. It’s a short ten-minute drive. So for this whole entourage, it might have been a half-day’s walk. It wasn’t a long distance at all compared to what they had just been through.

And just trying to put myself in the sandals, shoes—whatever they wore—of the wise men, I’m imagining that they must have felt some discouragement, some disappointment when they got to Jerusalem where the star had first appeared, and the child King was not there! 

All this journey, all this time, all these miles, and the object of their search is not in Jerusalem! They got to Jerusalem expecting they would see this newborn King. And furthermore, when they got to Jerusalem, they met the most brilliant, influential leaders—civic leaders, religious leaders—and no one knew that this newborn King had been born!

And after the leaders had dug in their Old Testament Scriptures and found out, “Oh yes, He’s supposed to be born in Bethlehem,” no one in Jerusalem was interested enough to go with them the six miles to Bethlehem! And the wise men had just traveled maybe a thousand miles to get there!

And now, they’re leaving Jerusalem. They’re following the star. They’re going to Bethlehem, and they’re out in the boonies! Bethlehem was not any town to write home about. It was a little village, perhaps two-hundred people who lived there at the time of Jesus. I can imagine that they were thinking, How in the world can there be a king out here!?

Don’t you think they might have wondered if their journey, all their efforts, had been in vain? Well, verse 9 tells us,

They went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose [now] went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 

The star had apparently disappeared after they first saw it. They were in the East. They saw the star rise; they realized where it was. That sent them heading toward Jerusalem, but not seeing the star all this time, they were just going by faith. 

And now the star that had started this whole journey reappeared, and they knew they were close to finding the object of their search. It led them to Bethlehem and then to the house where Jesus was, and then it stopped! 

As I’ve been meditating on this passage, I’ve been thinking about the kindness of God in leading us to Jesus and using the light of His Word, the witness of His Spirit, until we know that we know that we know that we have found the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life!

Well, verse 10 is not surprising in light of what they had just been through, and all the previous set-up and context. It says, “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.” John Piper says about this verse, 

. . . not just with joy, but with great joy; not just with great joy, but with great joy exceedingly!

It’s like their joy was boundless; it knew no limits! These were not stuffed shirts, just, “Oh yeah, we got to Jesus.” They were exceedingly joyful! 

And going into the house, they saw the child [they saw the Child!] with Mary his mother. 

The star led them to a house where Jesus and His mother were staying.

Joseph is not mentioned. He may have just been out of the house; we don’t know. He still was alive, because they still had the trip to Egypt to come, but he’s not mentioned here. And you can imagine that going into this house, it surely did not look like a place where a king would be born. This was no palace, because we know that Jesus was born into a simple, humble family and was not wealthy.

Verse 11, “They saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him.” 

Unlike the Jewish religious leaders, unlike Herod, they were thrilled to discover this newborn King of the Jews. They bowed down before Him, this young child—this toddler, perhap—and gave Him heartfelt worship!

Then opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (v. 11) 

I love that these wise men did not come to get anything from Jesus. They came simply to give to Him. They brought an offering. And notice, it doesn’t say, “They gave [the gifts] to the mother.”

When I buy a baby gift, I don’t usually give it directly to the baby; I give it to the mom. But Scripture says they gave their gifts to Jesus. They offered Him gifts . . . in the same way that believing Jews in the Old Testament who came to the temple to worship God would bring offerings with them.

Deuteronomy 16, verse 16—talking about the worship of God’s people—says, no one is to “appear before the Lord empty-handed.” Bring something to show Him how much you treasure Him! Bring something as a gift to Him to show your worship for Him. 

Psalm 96, verse 8 says it this way: “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts!” Don’t come empty-handed! Bring an offering, and when you do, you’ll be bringing Him the glory that is due to His name. He is worthy of all the glory and the honor and the gifts we can bring Him!

And so these Magi, these wise men, brought valuable gifts—much more valuable than all the things on that list of newborn baby gifts, much more valuable than anything I’ve ever given to a newborn baby. They were gifts that were appropriate for a King! 

And we see in these gifts a picture, symbols, of the identity and the work of the Lord Jesus—why He came to this earth. 

We have gold, a rare precious metal that’s often connected with royalty, with kings. Jesus is not only the King of the Jews, but He is the King of kings. He is the King of this world; He is the King of nations!

He is not our equal, when we come to worship Him. He is our Friend, but we must first come to Him as our King and submit to Him, bow down before Him, submitting to His reign and His rule. The gold, perhaps, symbolized He is our King; He is the King.

Gold and frankincense. Frankincense was a high quality incense with a pleasant fragrance. It was often used in temple worship and sacrifices. It’s often considered a priestly gift. It reminds us that Jesus is our Great High Priest, who came to this earth to open up the way so that we could get to the Father.

He is the One who makes intercession for us; He prays for us. He is not only the Priest who offers the sacrifices; He came to be the sacrifice for sin. Frankincense, a priestly gift. Gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Myrrh is a strongly aromatic spice.It was sometimes mixed with wine to be an anesthetic when people were dying, to help them in their time of suffering.

It symbolizes suffering and death. In fact, myrrh was used for embalming dead bodies. It’s a reminder that this infant child, this toddler, this young child, was born to die—to lay down His life for the sake of the world! So even in Jesus’ infancy, in His youngest life, these gifts brought to Him by these wise men symbolized and signified who He was and what He came to do.

Now, we need to recognize that Jesus did not need the gifts of the wise men. This was not a care package they had put together to meet His needs. I’ve done that for moms with babies; you probably have, too. And you’ve been thankful to get those kinds of care packages. You’ve gone, “Oh, wow! We really needed this! I was out of onesies,” or “I had given all those away to somebody else who had a baby.” You were thrilled to get a care package. This was no care package for Jesus.

Acts 17:25 tells us that God is not, “served by human hands, as though he needed anything.” He didn’t need anything! The gifts of these wise men expressed the worth and the value that they placed on this Child. It was their way of honoring; that’s why they bowed down first.

They worshipped, and then they opened their gifts and treasures. They were honoring this newborn King. They were saying to Him in effect, “You are a greater treasure than all of these earthly treasures! There’s nothing we have that we want to hold on to. You’re worthy of it all! We’re willing to give up these valuable possessions in order to have the greatest treasure!”

Jesus doesn’t need the gifts that we bring Him: our money, our time, our effort, our sacrifice, our service. Our gifts express the worth and the value that we place upon Jesus; that we recognize Him as being of great, supreme, all-surpassing worth! Our gifts, our giving, they represent our devotion to Him!

The gifts that we give Jesus are not a bribe to win His affection or His favor or His blessing. I’m not saying, “If I give You all my time or my money, then You’ll love me more or You’ll accept me.” That’s the way human love, sadly, often operates. But when we give to Jesus, we’re saying, “All we have already belongs to God, and it rightly belongs to Him!”

Remember in the Old Testament where King David raised a lot of money for the building of the temple that his son, Solomon, would do. David himself brought a lavish gift, a very expensive over-flowingly abundant gift for the building.

He prays, and he dedicates this money for the future temple. He says in 1 Chronicles 29:14, “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.”

You see, when we give in the offering at church, when we give to support ministries like Revive Our Hearts—or others that the Lord puts on our hearts—we’re not giving something that starts with us. Everything we have is a gift from God, has come from Him. 

And so when we give to Christ, when we give to His kingdom work in this world, we’re giving back what already belongs to Him and came from Him in the first place. Now, the gifts of the Magi proved to be a timely provision. You say, “How do you know that?”

Well, in Luke 2 we read about Jesus being brought by His parents at the age of forty days (before the wise men came) to be dedicated in the temple. That’s what the Old Testament law said they should do. And parents who came and dedicated their firstborn son at the age of forty days were to bring a sacrifice, an offering.

Normally it would be a lamb. But in Leviticus chapter 12, you read something that when you’re just reading through the Bible (some of you just started reading through the Bible again this year and you’re going to get to Leviticus, and when you come to chapter 12) you’re going to say, “Why’s that there?” Well, here’s where it’s there.

Scripture said that if a worshipper dedicating their baby was so poor that they could not offer a lamb, they could bring two turtle doves. It’s a poor person’s offering. What did Mary and Joseph bring for the dedication of the Baby in the temple?

Luke 2 tells us they brought the offering of the turtle doves, so we know that they were among the poorest of the poor. They were not wealthy! Now, weeks or months later when Herod sought to destroy the child (we’ll look at that tomorrow) and Mary and Joseph and the Baby were forced to flee to Egypt, how could they have afforded that trip? And then they would have had the trip back to Nazareth after Herod was dead. 

If you’ve listened to Revive Our Hearts any length of time, you know I love the word “Providence”—God’s Providence. I love living under God’s Providence! It means that God sees ahead: “pro” . . . “before;” and “vision” . . . “to see.”

He sees ahead and He makes provision for what’s coming before we’ve even been there. Is this not a beautiful example of God’s Providence, that God made provision for Jesus and His earthly family before they even knew they had a need?

He sent the wise men with gifts fit for a king and through that gold, in particular, provided the resources that they would need to travel to Egypt, to live there for a time, and then go back to Nazareth. God does it right! I love living under Providence!

And let me say, as we think about that, do you think that God will fail to meet your needs by His Providence, if you are His child? God took care of His Son’s needs there in Bethlehem. Do you think God will fail to meet your needs? Do you think that God will fail to meet the needs of your children that you trust to His care?

You may say, “I can’t see where this is coming from!” You don’t even know what’s coming up next that you’re going to have a need for, but God knows, and He’s already making provision. 

Well, as I look at these wise men, I see that they were joyful, serious, generous worshippers—worshippers of Christ.

They didn’t worship the star; they didn’t worship the religious systems of their day. They came and bowed down and worshipped Jesus. They rejoiced with exceedingly great joy when they saw the object of their search had been found. They were joyful worshippers. They were serious-minded worshippers. They’d gone an awfully long way, gone to an awful lot of difficulty to come and find this Child. And they were generous worshippers! 

Are we? Are we joyful worshippers, serious worshippers, generous worshippers?

You know, worship and giving go hand-in-hand. Our giving is a measure of our worship. It’s a measure of the value, the worth, that we put on Jesus. And so, ought we not to come into His presence to worship Him, to honor Him joyfully, to give Him abundant, generous gifts that show the worth we place on Him? 

Look, if somebody were to look at my giving record (which we’re pulling together now because we have to turn it into the IRS, shortly, right?) . . . We received all those tax-free contributions and so we’re thinking about that here in the first quarter of the new year. 

If somebody were to go and look at our giving to the Lord’s work, would they say that we are joyful, serious, generous worshippers, or are we stingy? It’s one thing to be frugal when it’s our own needs, but I don’t want to be a frugal person when it comes to giving to the Lord’s work. I want to be a joyful, serious, generous worshipper of Christ!

Oh Lord, as we come into Your presence and we reflect on these wise men, these Magi, whose story You’ve given us in the Scripture, we thank You for what they teach us about worship! I pray that You would make us—make me, make my sisters who listen here today—joyful worshippers!

May we be serious worshippers of Jesus, and may we be generous worshippers, for in You we have found the pearl of great price, the treasure above all treasures. There is none like You! So anything we give to You has come from You and it belongs to You; we give it back to You joyfully!

We want Your kingdom to come and Your will to be done], and we want the world around us to also become joyful, serious, generous worshippers of You. May the value we place upon You be seen in how we love You, how we worship You, and how we give. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen!

Dannah: Amen! The wise men brought expensive gifts to Jesus, and Nancy has been showing us how these valuable gifts were ultimately a picture of their worship. Today’s message is part of the series “Of Wise Men, Kings, and Providence.” Nancy, you’re going to have some concluding thoughts on this in just a moment.

Nancy: Yes, but first, speaking of gifts, if you donated to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts in December, I want to take a moment to say “thank you” for your gift in this time of need. We recently finished up our year-end campaign. 

We were asking the Lord to provide 2.2 million dollars in December, and we’re thrilled to let you know that the Lord met that entire need! Can I hear a “hallelujah!?”

Dannah: Hallelujah!!

Nancy: Thank You, Lord, amen! Yes, through friends and listeners like you, God has provided the amount we needed! Thank you so much for being a part of what the Lord is doing through Revive Our Hearts. As I mentioned today, so many of our listeners were joyful, serious, generous worshippers, and it showed!

The gifts of so many of God’s people combined made it possible for us to reach women around the world . . . to bring them freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ. We could not be more grateful! Thank You, Lord, and thank You for each listener who had a part in seeing this goal be met.

Dannah: Thank you for being a part of that. Today we talked about treasures, the treasures the wise men brought Jesus, and how our gifts show how much we treasure the Lord. 

You know, the Word of God contains valuable treasure, more precious than gold or silver. But sometimes it takes a little work to mine for it. We want to help you get to the treasure found in Scripture, and we do that by creating resources to help you dig into God’s Word.

One of our new resources is called Ruth: Experiencing a Life Restored. It’s the newest study in our Women of the Bible series.It will take you through the book of Ruth in six sessions. You’ll watch as Ruth’s story unfolds to display the amazing power of God’s restoration!

Nancy: We’d love to send you this new study as our way of saying “thank you” for your gift of any amount to Revive Our Hearts this week. You can make your donation at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can call us at 1–800–569–5959. When you make your gift, be sure to ask for a copy of the study on Ruth.

Dannah: Now, here’s Nancy to finish up our program for today. She’s helping us zoom out and see the bigger picture.

Nancy: I think it’s important to note that the wise men were the first non-Jews to worship the Savior! This makes a significant statement about God’s redemptive plan. Because the Jews of that day thought of themselves as God’s only chosen people, they had lost sight of God’s heart for the world, God’s heart for the nations.

The account of the wise men coming and worshipping and bringing their gifts to the newborn King is hinted at in the Old Testament, these men from a far away country—not from Judea, not from Israel, but from the East, perhaps a thousand miles away or more. 

There are two passages in the Old Testament that refer to Gentile kings and nations bringing gifts to the coming Messiah and worshipping before Him. Let me read you those verses. The first is found in Psalm 72, verses 10 and 11. It says, 

May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands render him tribute; may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts! May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him! 

The Jews had forgotten that God wanted to be worshipped by all the nations of the world, by all kings of the earth. And one day they will all worship Him. But in the coming of the wise men, these Magi who were king-makers, they were consultants to kings; they came and worshipped, fell down, honored Him. They brought gifts to Him. This was the fulfillment of that prophecy in Psalm 72.

And then you read in Isaiah chapter 60, beginning in verse 3: 

Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. . . . The wealth of the nations shall come to you. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord (vv. 3, 5–6).

This was prophesied in the Old Testament, that the light would come—not just for the Jews, but for the nations of the world. I’m so glad that was true, because we’ve had the chance as non-Jews, as Gentiles, to hear the gospel, to believe in Christ, and to become worshippers—joyful worshippers—of the Lord Jesus!

Now, fifty days after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, at the end of His earthly life, we come to that time of Pentecost. You read about it in Acts 2:5. The Scripture tells us that, “There were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.” 

So as the gospel first began to go out, there were Jews who had come from all around the world for the festival of Pentecost. They came to worship. This was the opportunity when the gospel first began to spread to the dispersed Jews of the nation. And then through the ministry of Peter and then Paul, to the Gentiles of the world.

You see, God’s plan was always to take the gospel to the nations, that all the world—all the nations—might believe in His Son and might worship Him. And the Old Testament prophecies, the book of Acts as the gospel began to go out to the nations, it’s all just a glimpse and a foretaste of the New Jerusalem at the end of the age!

We read in Revelation 21:23, 

And the city [this New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God] has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 

We won’t need stars, sun, or moon anymore to shine light in our darkness. The glory of God will be the one who lights up the entire city, the entire world!

And then, verse 24, 

By its light [the glory of God, the Lamb of God, by its light] will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.

All we have comes from You and it all belongs to You, Lord Jesus! That’s what the wise men remind us.

And so today, as we seek to become more joyful, serious, generous worshippers, we follow in the steps of the wise men. But we also give others a glimpse and a foretaste of that great day when all the world will fall and worship and bow and honor Jesus, and bring all their glory and lay it before the feet of the One to whom all glory belongs! 

Are you looking forward to that? I am! Thanks be to God!

Dannah: Amen! It’s so encouraging to look ahead to the final chapters of history. Do you look forward to that day? I know I do! As we close today’s podcast, some of our listeners take a moment to respond to what we just heard from Nancy. We’ll hear from Janelle, Sue, and Kim.

Janelle: We’ve been talking about kings and nations. I don’t know about you all, but I’ve just been so confused recently about all the current events right now, and the COVID stuff. It just seems that there are a lot of overwhelming decisions to be made. 

It just reminds to keep on pursuing what is eternal and stop worrying so much about these issues that we need to consider, but instead keep our eyes on what’s eternal. And then thinking about stars, and I keep on seeing that star behind you, Nancy. It just reminds me of the sun, because the sun is our closest star. Revelation talks about how Jesus is the Star and [like] the sun of God. (see Revelation 1:16, 22:16)

I just love the pictures that God puts in nature—trees, stars, water—and even how He put the moon in the sky and how the moon reflects the sun on the dark earth. I just love that picture, too! So thank you so much. I’m just so reminded of how God’s Word is so rich and such a treasure!

We’ve read this passage so many times. A lot of times during the holiday season I kind of get tired of the same story; sometimes it gets old. I keep on reading the same story to the kids. But just stopping and reflecting that God’s Word is a treasure. We need to take time to consider it.

God’s Holy Spirit is working in our lives, and God’s hand on wise people to bring these things to our minds. I’m just so thankful for God’s Word and for the way He’s using you to help us find these treasures!

Nancy: Thank you, Janelle. So sweet. These people that talk about “Mother Earth,” they’re missing the glory of, “This is my Father’s world!” In all of this He speaks and He makes Himself known! Thank you, Janelle.

Sue: Something you said, “Jesus is not our equal; He is our Friend.” Most of all, He is our Friend, but the very, very most important thing is, He’s our King. We need to respect that and not overlook the fact that He is the King!

Nancy: Yes, a King who draws close to us. How amazing is that? Precious!

Kim: I’m just thankful for what you said about bringing our offerings before the Lord. It just reminded me of how many times do we actually go before the Lord and start asking Him for things in our prayers instead of going before Him and giving Him an offering of our worship to Him, seeking His face—not just His hand—in our prayers.

I think it’s so important that we don’t just always seek His hand and what He can give to us, but seek to worship Him in prayer as well.

Nancy: Yes, I love that. These wise men didn’t come to get anything from Him. They came to give something to Him—not that He needed it, not that they were earning anything from Him. This wasn’t a bribe. They just said, “You’re a treasure, so we’re going to bring our treasures to show Your worth and value!” I love that!

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you become joyful, serious, generous worshippers. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

Support the Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Darkness. Fear. Uncertainty. Women around the world wake up hopeless every day. You can play a part in bringing them freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness instead. Your gift ensures that we can continue to spread gospel hope! Donate now.

Leave a $5 gift

About the Speaker

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love …

Read More