Business Insider reports that the gifts the singer of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” received from his/her “true love” would have cost a total of $34,363.49 in 2016, and the Oxford Club’s Sean Brodrick suggested that the wise men’s three gifts to Jesus, which we recall in connection with Epiphany, at the end of Christmas’s Twelve Days, would have cost at least $1,200 in 2015, plus shipping and handling.
Brodrick based his total on one ounce of gold, one pound of frankincense, and one pound of myrrh, although Matthew 2:1-12 does not report any quantities. Nor does Matthew tell us why the wise men offered precisely those gifts, although Christian tradition, such as that entrenched in the 1857 John Henry Hopkins, Jr., song “We Three Kings of Orient Are”, suggests that the gold relates to Jesus’s being a king, the frankincense to His being God, and the myrrh to His being a sacrifice.
Of course, the gifts that people give are not at the center of either the Bible’s account of Christmas or Epiphany. Rather, the Bible tells of God’s loving the world by giving His only Son at Christmas as a Savior, so that all who believe in Him will not perish on account of their sins but have eternal life (John 3:16). And, the Bible tells of God’s leading the wise men to that Savior and King, using His Word of the Old Testament (for example, Numbers 24:17 and Micah 5:2) and a miraculous “star” and of their then responding with their gifts.
God likewise leads us, who repent and believe, to our Savior and King, by His Word and miraculous signs (Baptism, Absolution, and Communion). Thereby God creates in us faith that receives the forgiveness of all of our sins. As a result, we worship Him and thank Him with offerings from what He has given us.
Not only the day of Epiphany but also the whole season of Epiphany, January 6 through February 28, centers on the Incarnate God revealing Himself to the whole world, which would not know Him apart from His so revealing Himself.
The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore. You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.pilgrimlc.org.