Not Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh - What does Jesus really want from us?

When the Magi visited the baby Jesus, they brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

These were appropriate gifts to give to a King and may have been very useful as Joseph soon found himself moving his family to Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod.

But what about us? What does Jesus want from us? Not gold, frankincense and myrrh, the answer can be found in the last prayer that Jesus made before giving Himself up to those who planned to kill Him.

 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.  I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. John 17:20-21 New Living Translation (NLT)

Jesus prayed for unity because He knew that it was an especially hard struggle for His followers then as it is today.

In that original group of apostles, there were incredible tensions. One example is the tension created by James and John when they had asked for the seat at the right and left hand of Jesus in heaven which caused an outrage of jealousy among the other disciples.

Later, on the same evening when Jesus prayed His last prayer before going to the cross, the disciples were fuming with rage because there had been an argument among them as to who was the greatest. Plus, Jesus threw them all for a loop when He announced that one of them would betray Him.

In fact, in that little group of twelve, there were all kinds of dividing issues.  Today among all of us, it is not that different.

After studying Jesus’ words in his John 17 prayer ,it would be safe to say that Jesus wants unity—oneness among His followers. That is what He prayed for.

I would like to challenge us to give Jesus three gifts. These gifts can be simple prayers or commitments that you make to Jesus as well as actions you take in your daily life.

  • Gift #1: I will focus on what unites rather than on what divides. We must always remember that as Christians, we agree on a whole lot more than we disagree. So, it is helpful to identify those areas on which we do agree. Here are a few examples: The Bible is God’s Word, Jesus Christ is God, salvation is by faith through Christ alone, and Jesus will return.

E. Stanley Jones (1884-1973), missionary to India, once said, “Talk about what you believe and you have disunity. Talk about Who you believe in and you have unity.”

  • Gift #2: I will agree to disagree. This is a tough one. We all have issues we feel very strongly about.  We feel the way we do because we think it is the right position on the issue and we want to do things right.

It's very frustrating and aggravating when other people have beliefs that don’t line up with ours. How could they think that!  Baptism, the role of women in the church, spiritual gifts, the timing of creation and Jesus’s return are examples of things that have split churches and denominations.  Many non-believers have enjoyed watching these disputes among Christians.

Church doctrine is important. But the greatest church doctrine is love one another. Christians should be able to discuss theses issue and still be one.

  • Gift #3: I will lead with love. If we do disagree with someone, what does it look like?  If our response is unloving, uncompassionate, selfish, argumentative, and divisive, we directly contradict Jesus who commanded us to love.  Also, it makes Satan very happy when Christians act like this.

In John 17, Jesus is stating something else which is much more important, much more profound: We cannot expect the world to believe that the Father sent the Son, that Jesus’ claims are true, unless the world sees some proof of the oneness of Christians.

In The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel shares this story:  In Africa, a two-year-old child wandered off into the jungle. The whole tribe spent the day searching for this youngster but could not find him. The next day, they decided to join hands and cover the entire area. They found the boy, but unfortunately, he was dead after having spent the night outside. The distraught mother cried, “Why didn’t we hold hands sooner?”

We can all give these 3 gifts to Jesus.  These are not easy gifts to give.  They require us to resist our sinful nature, our first impulse, and respond to aggravating circumstances with kindness, patience, forgiveness, and love. But we can choose to give this to Him. I can imagine Jesus’ response when we give Him these three gifts; “I’ve waited a long time for this, thank you, it’s exactly what I wanted!”
The greatest testimony that we can possibly offer is not quoting Bible verses to people or offering some cutting-edge outreach event, it is how we treat others and showcase Christian love.
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