The story of the birth of Jesus is rich in meaning, no matter how you look at it: from a Christian perspective, from a literary perspective, from a child’s perspective, a theologian’s…
So much symbolism, so much foreshadowing of what is to come, so many prophecies fulfilled in a single child who was fully human and fully God… No matter how old or young or educated or uneducated you are, you can gain something from the Nativity story, no matter how many times you hear it.
A few weeks ago, I was teaching my third grade Sunday school class about the three gifts the Magi gave to Jesus. Of course, the kids had many questions. “What is a baby going to do with gold?” “Why couldn’t they have brought him diapers?”
Three is a number of enormous significance in the Bible. There’s the trinity, the three times Peter denied knowing Jesus, the three members of the Holy Family, three people (including Jesus) crucified at Golgotha, the three wise men, etc. And the three gifts those wise men brought.
I didn’t explain all that to the kids. But what I did tell them was that each item stood for something more important — these gifts were so much more than just ordinary presents:
Gold stood for his divinity and pricelessness.
Frankincense stood for his righteousness and purity.
Myrrh stood for his eventual suffering and death.
In those three gifts, you have the entire Christian message: Jesus Christ is God, fully divine, who came to walk among us as a man of righteousness, and who eventually suffered and died to redeem the world.