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September 12, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him…myrrh.”—Matthew 2:11 (NKJV)
The third and final gift the wise men gave to Jesus was myrrh. Much like frankincense, myrrh was a special substance harvested from certain trees in the Middle East when their outer bark was cut open. It too produced a pleasant aroma, but myrrh was also different from frankincense; particularly because it possessed several medicinal properties.
Myrrh could be mixed with wine and serve as a sedative. It could also be applied to wounds or even corpses in order to slow down the process of decomposition. As with the gifts of gold and frankincense, this gift points to something significant about Jesus. But we need to skip to the very end of His earthly life in order to see it: “They brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull. Then they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it” (Mark 15:22-23 NKJV).
As Jesus was being crucified on the cross, myrrh was mixed with wine and given to Jesus. In all likelihood, the onlookers did this in order to sedate Him. But notice how Jesus refused to drink it, not wanting to lessen the severity of pain and punishment for our sin.
It is not a coincidence that this detail is given as Jesus is suffering and dying on the cross. Yet there’s another mention of myrrh during this time that we can’t miss: “Joseph of Arimathea…asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission…and Nicodemus…also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes…they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury” (John 19:38-40 NKJV).
Not only was Jesus offered myrrh on the cross, but His dead body was also embalmed in myrrh as He was buried in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb. Again, this isn’t a random coincidence. These details are given to us for a specific reason. God wants us to see that myrrh was present at both the cross and the tomb; it played a role in the death and burial of Jesus.
Now, go back in time, back to the beginning of Christ’s life. Can you see a new significance in this gift of myrrh? If gold indicated that He was King, and if frankincense revealed that He was High Priest, what does myrrh point to? It anticipates the fact that He was also to suffer and serve as a sacrifice . . . our sacrifice for our sin!
Even as a little toddler, it was understood by God (as well as these wise men) that Jesus was born to die for our sin. And it goes back even further than that. Before creation and according to His omniscience, God foresaw our sin and our need for salvation. In the eternal workings of the Godhead, the Son was our sacrificial lamb, slain even before the foundations of the world were laid (Revelation 13:8)!
As such, myrrh was a painful but utterly appropriate gift to give to Him.
Whenever we read through the Christmas story, we should take a moment when we come to the part where the wise men gave Jesus the gift of myrrh. We should pause and reflect on what this gift represents, the greatest gift that has ever been given…the very life of God’s Son, who sacrificially laid it down on the cross so we could be set free from the penalty of our sin!
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”—Romans 6:23 (NKJV)
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.