Christmas gifts aren’t all their cracked up to be. We’ve all given or received gifts out of routine or tradition. Like the can of nuts that was hastily wrapped for some grab bag. Gifts can be given because they are expected, because of manipulation or to manipulate, because of tradition, or given to express our true feelings of love, joy, and adoration.
This advent season we’re looking at five words that express something about the Christmas story. Our first word was declaration and looked at the angelic announcements. The second word was the mystery and majesty of incarnation. This week we look at the word adoration and how it fits into the story of Christmas.
Luke tells us that the shepherds left their flocks to search out the newborn in the stable. “So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.” (Luke 2:16–19, NASB95) We’re missing details, but it’s easy to imagine the reverence of the shepherds as they looked on the baby Jesus. Their excited voices as they told their story of the angels to Mary and Joseph. We can assume there was a moment of awe and adoration before they returned to the fields. Matthew, however, does give us more details of when the Magi encountered Jesus. “After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:9–11, NASB95) Their adoration of Christ was on display in their prostrated worship and the giving of precious gifts.
Why did they worship? In both cases, there was something of a revelation from God, a truth exposed and accepted. Neither the shepherds or the Magi came to Jesus to get something. Their worship was simple, direct, and personal. Their worship cost them something but it was freely given without strings or expectations. They were filled with adoration and expressed it in words, actions, and gifts.
So often we come to Jesus wanting something. And that’s ok, Jesus invites us to bring our needs to Him. But if that is the only time or reason that we pray or worship then we’re missing the real joy of following Jesus. Worship, whether in word, song, action, or giving should be about the adoration we feel in our hearts. An adoration that grows as we encounter the truths about God, about ourselves, and about His love for us.
Late in King David’s life, he was preparing to transfer the kingdom to Solomon and was gathering materials to build the first Temple. The events can be found in 1 Chronicles 29. Those verses record a prayer of David that echoes the thought of adoration and worshiping God for who He is. “O Lord, the God of our ancestor Israel, may you be praised forever and ever! Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength. “O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name! But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us!” (1 Chronicles 29:10-14, NLT) Let’s make that our prayer this Christmas as we gather to celebrate the greatest gift of all. O come, let us adore Him!