On coming to the house, [the Magi] 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 2:11 NIV)
It has been said that if the wise men were women they would have brought Mary and Jesus nappies, baby wipes and milk formula rather than the impractical gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. However impractical these gifts may seem to be they were of considerable significance, and what’s more, they were gifts not just for Christmas.
By presenting Jesus with gold the Magi were indicating that this baby is our king. The gold in any land was in the keeping of the king, held in the king’s treasury. The taxes and revenues collected from people in the kingdom were put into the treasure house of the king. The wise men were bringing their gold to royalty. Jesus may look like a baby in a manger but he is
‘KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS’ (Revelation 19:16)
The gift of incense points to Jesus being our priest. Incense was lit and spread around the altar by the priests leading worship. In Scripture incense represents the prayers of the people
(Revelation 5:8), and we are to pray in Jesus’ name
(John 16:23-24). Jesus is the only mediator between the Father and us. He is our High Priest who understands our afflictions, has experienced our temptations, and enables us to come before the throne of grace with boldness and confidence as he leads our worship
The meaning behind myrrh is that it foretold the death of Jesus as it was the embalming fluid of its day. This gift was a further confirmation of what Mary had heard Anna and Simeon say on the 8th day after Jesus’ birth, when they presented Jesus in the temple to be circumcised; this child would die, and while Mary’s heart would be pierced, salvation through him has come.
The tremendous meaning behind these gifts provides lessons for us throughout the year, so don’t only unpack them at Christmas. The fact that Jesus is our king (in charge of and directing our lives), priest (interceding, empathising and dispensing grace) and Saviour (forgiving our sins and reconciling us to God) gives us the strength and encouragement to follow him throughout our lives.
Maybe the wise men were wise after all; what do you think?
Father, by the leading of a star you revealed your only begotten Son to these gentile Magi. May your light continue to reveal Jesus to us as our king, priest and Saviour so that we can contemplate the wonder and beauty of his majesty.
Have a good 2019 unpacking Jesus.