“When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2:10-11
“A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.” Luke 7:37-38
These two passages represent two different ways of worshipping God. In the first passage, we read about the three wise men bowing down in front of baby Jesus. They bowed down because they had a rational revelation. In their wisdom, they interpreted the star in the sky that revealed that a King was being born in Israel. Despite the fact that it seemed absurd to worship a baby, they ignored this and worshipped because of their knowledge and understanding. In addition, they worshipped Jesus by giving him what he deserved simply because of who he was. They gave him gold because he was King, frankincense because he was God, and myrrh because he was going to die for all of our sins. All of this was done in a formal way. It was an intellectual recognition of who Jesus was followed by the corresponding actions.
This image dramatically contrasts the image that follows in the second passage. In this passage, a woman notorious for being a sinner, walks towards Jesus and pours her most expensive perfume on his feet. She began to wet his feet with her tears as she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and poured perfume on them. This woman demonstrated a type of worship completely different than the wise men. It was not so much an intellectual recognition as it was a bitter recognition of her sinful condition in front of Jesus. It was not so much an appropriate and symbolic gift as it was the pouring of all of her thankfulness towards the forgiveness and mercy of Jesus. This woman was not worshipping because of her intellectual understanding of Jesus, but rather because she felt the love that flowed from Jesus. It was emotion, but in many ways it was more real than the gold and the myrrh that the wise men presented. She felt in her soul what Jesus had done. She felt that he had forgiven her and freed her from her many sins. Her offering was not rational. She poured an extravagant offering and this pleased God.
In the same way, we should worship God in these two ways. First, as the wise men, we should worship God because he deserves it. We should worship because he is the creator. Every day we observe and recognize nature, the starts in the sky, and the human body as the works of his hands. We attribute to him all the honor, glory, and power intellectually and we serve him because of our understanding. However, we should also worship with a contrite and thankful heart for what God has done. We should worship from the heart with love, dedication, devotion, art, and beauty.
Christmas requires the two ways of worshipping. We should worship because we understand the glory and magnificence of the power of God, whom made his son to be born of a virgin in order to come into the world and save us. It is also necessary to worship without any reservations and with all of our emotions because if we did not have the unreserved love from the Father, where would we be? We would not only be condemned to destruction, but we would also have no hope of getting out of our sinful ways. We would never be able to experiment how wonderful it is to have a relationship with Christ. For this reason, our heart should shout for Jesus the King, Jesus the Savior, Emmanuel.