As With Gladness Men of Old, verse 3
As they offered gifts most rare at that manger rude and bare,
So may we with holy joy, pure and free from sin’s alloy,
All our costliest treasures bring, Christ, to Thee our heavenly King.
Advertisers pull out all the stops around Christmas trying to convince you that you should buy their product for someone or talk them into getting it for you. Television commercials used to describe their gadgets as the “perfect Christmas gift.” Well, there has one been one perfect Christmas gift – that is the gift that God gave us, His Son Jesus. Still, we can trace the tradition of gift-giving at Christmas to the wise men who visited Jesus.
We have traditionally considered that there were three wise men, although the Bible never says that. We are only told that there were three kinds of gifts. The verse of this song depicts the wise men offering their gifts at the manger, although we know from Scripture that Jesus was already in a house by the time the wise men arrived. Be that as it may, I don’t want us to miss the point of the beautiful hymn which reminds us of the value of the gifts they offered. They brought gifts of great value to present to Jesus. After all, they were meeting a King!
~ The gift of gold recognizes that Jesus is King. Gold has been the foundation of most of the earth’s civilizations.
~ The gift of frankincense recognizes that Jesus is God. Incense was used in worship as the priest offered prayers inside the Tabernacle.
~ The gift of myrrh recognizes that Jesus is a sacrifice. Myrrh is a strong perfume from a plant that is bitter. In the wilderness, the children of Israel named one place Marah, because the water was too bitter to drink until Moses intervened (Exodus 15:23). In Jesus’ day, the spice was used to anoint a dead body before burial. This gift pointed to His destiny, to die for the sins of the world.
The exhortation of this hymn is for us to offer gifts to Jesus in the manner of the wise men. We should give to Jesus our best, things that are valuable and pure. An alloy is a mixture of metals, not pure like a single element would be. What we offer to Jesus should not be mixed with the impurities that come from the world. God gave us the Perfect Christmas gift, His Perfect Son. Let us respond by giving Him our very selves