The following is part 3 of the Christmas Story from my Christmas curriculum for children’s church called Christmas Chaos.
Who doesn’t like to receive presents? I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t. But do you know why we give presents on Christmas? Some people may say it’s because Santa Claus brings them. Others say it’s because a man named Saint Nicholas once distributed gifts to orphans. However, giving gifts can remind us of the REAL Christmas story, the reason why we celebrate Christmas. I bet by now all of you know why we celebrate Christmas.
That’s right; we remember Jesus’ birth on that day. And, just like you probably get gifts on your birthday, Jesus received some gifts on his. The Bible says that some wise men came from the East to Jerusalem because they had seen his star rise. Now, for years people have been trying to figure out exactly who these men were and how many of them there were. Nativity sets normally come with three, but did you know that the Bible doesn’t actually say how many there were?
Some people that have studied history believe that they were astrologers (people who study the stars) or kings (Ever heard the song “We Three Kings”?).
A few people have said they were sorcerers wielding magical powers, making them sound like something out of a Harry Potter book.
I’ll tell you what we do know: the Bible calls them Magi, and that pretty much means they were some really wise dudes, most likely from Babylon/Persia, who had studied A LOT. Remember when Daniel was in Babylon and was thrown into the lion’s den? Well, some Magi are mentioned in Daniel 2:10 and a few other places in the Bible.
The Magi we read about in Matthew’s account knew about the One true God, and they knew a lot about prophecies and stars. One of the verses that many people believe to be a prophecy of Jesus’ star is found in Numbers 24:17, which says, “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; A star shall come forth from Jacob, A scepter shall rise from Israel.” (NASB).
So the Magi came to Jerusalem, and started asking the Jews if they knew where exactly the new “King of the Jews” might be. Then they found him and gave him his gifts, and went home. THE END.
Just kidding! This couldn’t be THE Christmas story without some crazy stuff thrown in!
It’s now time for an evil villain to enter the picture. The villain was a rotten king called Herod who thought HE was the King of Jews, and he got VERY jealous and angry when he heard that some magi had come to town telling people that a new “king” had been born. So he asked some Jewish priests and teachers to tell him where Jesus was. They quoted a verse from the Old Testament to him that says that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. But that wasn’t enough info for Herod. He contacted the magi in secret and told them to “give him all the deets.” They looked a little skeptic so he just said slyly, “Oh…I just want to know so that I can go and worship him too.” Umm…yeah right. He ordered them to let him know as soon as they found Jesus, but… we’ll see about that.
The magi left Herod, and followed the star until it stopped over the place where Jesus was. The Bible says that Jesus was now in a house.This could mean he was no longer in a place with a bunch of animals, because the Bible says that the wise men visited sometime after he was born. It could have been months, or even a year. As soon as they saw him, they bowed down and worshipped. Then, it was PRESENT TIME! They presented Jesus with three gifts: a Playstation 2, a StarWars lego set, and an iPad.
Just kidding. But he really did get some expensive goodies— gold, frankincense and myrrh. I’m sure you’ve heard of gold—it’s not cheap stuff. Now I know the other two sound like Halloween costumes, but they really are valuable items too. Does anyone know what they are?
Those are some good guesses. They were basically the standard gifts to give to kings of those days: frankincense was a perfume and myrrh was an oil. And they didn’t give them to baby Jesus just so he could smell like flowers and have slimy skin— the gifts had a point to them. They were to show everyone that Jesus would one day be King!
After the magi left the house where Jesus was, they were supposed to go back to Herod, remember? Well, God warned them not to do that in a dream, so they hightailed it out of there and took a different route home to avoid Herod.
You can probably imagine how angry Herod was when he realized he’d been stood up by the magi. Like a typical evil villain, he flew into a rage and went on a killing spree. He ordered that all male babies in Bethlehem two years and under should be killed immediately. Why two years and under? Because the magi had told him that Jesus had to have been born within the last two years.
Herod really was an evil dude. But luckily, God made sure to tell Joseph in a dream that Herod was coming after Jesus, and so he took Mary and Jesus and fled to Egypt.
Pretty dramatic stuff, right? Well, even though the circumstances weren’t the easiest, God was always in control, and kept Jesus safe from harm. Not everyone was happy that Jesus had arrived, but there were plenty of people who were overjoyed— like the Magi. So the next time you give or receive a present on Christmas, think about the Magi, who traveled a very long distance to see Jesus because they believed he is King. What would you give Jesus? There’s an old song by Christina Rossetti that goes like this:
What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give Him my heart.
If you haven’t given Jesus your heart yet, there’s no better time than Christmas to do it. Talk to your teacher after class so you can find out how. If you already have asked Jesus to save you, obeying what He asks you to do in the Bible is the gift that He wants from you this year.Share this post: