The giving of gifts is firmly associated with Christmas and many of us are familiar with the joy of giving and receiving presents at this time of the year. Of course this does not always go smoothly: too short, too long, too bold, too bland, too ‘last year’, too modern, books already read, music already bought, ‘you thought buying me something for the kitchen was a good idea!’ Choosing gifts then is not always easy and we have all struggled to pick the right one and our efforts are not always appreciated or appropriate.
Gold could be one of the best-received gifts. This metal has an ancient history as a precious item to be sought after and continues to be highly treasured: the gold of the Incas, Tutankhamen’s treasures, fabled hidden pirate gold, the American and Australian gold rushes, the Brink’s-Mat bullion heist, the list could go on. It has been worshiped or used in worship. It has been guarded and stolen. People die in pursuit of it. From little personal trinkets to government investment reserves, gold does it all and it has been and still is inextricably linked with opulence and excess, power and influence, kingship and rule.
Gold is specifically linked with the Christmas event and the birth of the baby at the heart of that. Enter the ‘wise men’ bearing gifts for the newly born King:
‘And when they came into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. And opening their treasure boxes, they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.’ Mark 2: 11
The gifts they brought were not chosen at random, bought at the nearest market as an afterthought, they were given with purpose and significance. Gold as I have said is closely linked to kingship and rule, and this itself automatically points to power and influence, wealth and riches. How incongruous then to give the gift of gold to a baby born in a stable, apparently conceived out of wedlock to poor ‘working class’ parents with very little power or influence or wealth and riches. Interesting too that the gift givers were not of the ‘people of God’ rather they were men from the east, possibly astrologers, who had followed the movement of a strange star in the sky. In their search God had somehow directed them physically to Bethlehem and intellectually to recognise that this baby was actually the King. For them the giving of Gold was the right thing to do. A King would expect to get such a gift.
Gold is a significant metal in its own right. When it covers ordinary things it makes them precious. Jesus the King appeared in the ordinary but he would be extraordinary. He came down to earth to live in poverty that we may gain riches. He came to die a dreadful death so we would not have to. Jesus should be our precious gold. He is the treasure we should seek. Jesus makes the ordinary extraordinary. Jesus covers our sin with his righteousness so that we can be made precious in the sight of God.
This Christmas consider the gift already given to you in the form of a saviour. The gift even more precious than gold. The gift that sets a hope for all eternity to all who believe that the baby born in that lowly stable was indeed the King of glory, fit to be worshiped by all, entitled to be given the gift of gold.