I blame the wise men. Honestly, if they were all that wise, shouldn’t they have known they were setting a dangerous precedent? But there they were, bringing gifts to Jesus.
Biblical scholars believe the wise men made their visit when Jesus was closer to 2 years old, not at his birth. Still, the event is often identified with the birth of Christ and the giving of gifts has become a part of the Christmas tradition.
Gold, frankincense and myrrh. Each of these gifts was special. Each of these gifts, upon understanding the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, was appropriate. Each of these gifts had great value.
Today, people rush around at Christmas trying to find and give the most appropriate gifts to all the special people in their lives. And often they spend a great amount of personal value (money) to do so. So much so, that this time of year sees numerous articles and news stories on how to avoid Christmas debt or how to pay off the Christmas debt you’ve already incurred.
Yet the one debt so often overlooked during this time of year is the debt we owe our heavenly father. That’s ironic, really, since Christmas occurred because of that debt.
As sinful human beings, we owed what I would call a “sin debt” to God. Like the Christmas debt we hear so much about during this time of year, we could not afford to pay it.
So what did God do? Turn us over to spiritual debt collectors? Hound us day and night until we paid him?
No. He sent his one and only son, Jesus Christ, to pay our debt for us (John 3:16). Jesus paid the debt on our behalf, and God forgave us of the debt we owed.
How many of you know of an earthly debtor who not only forgave your debt, but paid it himself? I’d love to get a call from my mortgage company and have them say, “Mr. Myers, we’re going to pay off the balance of your mortgage ourselves, and forgive the debt you owe us.”
Now think about that same mortgage company calling up every mortgagee and telling them the same thing. It’ll never happen!
But that’s what our heavenly father did. Through Jesus Christ, he offers everyone forgiveness of their “sin debt.”
I guess maybe the wise men aren’t to blame for the tradition of giving gifts at Christmas, after all. Maybe it was God, who gave the greatest gift of all: his son. And through his son, he gave the gift of forgiveness for all who will accept him as savior.
The Rev. Parrish Myers is a local minister living in Braselton. His column appears biweekly in Sunday Life and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.