When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
Worshiping Jesus means joyfully ascribing authority and dignity to Christ with sacrificial gifts. We ascribe to him. We don’t add to him. God is not served by human hands as though he needed anything (Acts 17:25).
So the gifts of the magi are not given by way of assistance or need meeting. It would dishonor a monarch if foreign visitors came with royal care packages. Nor are these gifts meant to be bribes. God tells us in Deuteronomy 10:17 that he takes no bribe.
Well, what then do the gifts mean? How are they worship? The gifts are intensifiers of desire for Christ himself in much the same way that fasting is. When you give a gift to Christ like this, it’s a way of saying something like this:
The joy that I pursue is not the hope of getting rich with things from you. I have not come to you for your things but for yourself. And this desire I now intensify and demonstrate by giving up things in the hope of enjoying you more, not the things. By giving to you what you do not need and what I might enjoy, I am saying more earnestly and more authentically, “You are my treasure, not these things.”
I think that’s what it means to worship God with gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.
May God take the truth of this text and waken in us a desire for Christ himself. May we say from the heart,
Lord Jesus, you are the Messiah, the king of Israel. All nations will come and bow down before you. God wields the world to see that you are worshiped. Therefore, whatever opposition I may find, I joyfully ascribe authority and dignity to you and bring my gifts to say that you alone can satisfy my heart, not these.