February 5, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“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 2:11 (NIV)
I love receiving gifts. But, honestly, I get way more enjoyment out of giving gifts. No gift I’ve received in adulthood has made me feel like I did when I was a kid, but whenever I give my kids a gift they really want, I’m filled with joy seeing the excitement and happiness on their faces and hearing “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, Daddy!”
Today, we’re going to look at each gift the wise men gave Jesus and what it means.
Because of the value of gold, this gift would make it possible for Jesus’ family to go on an adventure. They didn’t know it yet, but God was about to tell them to move to Egypt (Matthew 2:13), which would be expensive. But God, knowing they would have this need, provided the gold to make it possible for them to move there and protect Jesus.
But beyond that, gold was the perfect gift for the King! Only a gift of the greatest value would be fitting for the King of the universe. In giving this gift, the wise men were declaring that they believed Jesus was the true King that had been promised thousands of years earlier. Their gold was a small reflection of His amazing value, but at the same time it was the closest thing they could offer to honor His majesty.
This pretty smelling gift holds a precious meaning in Jesus’ life. Because priests would burn incense in God’s temple every day to represent the prayers of God’s people, this gift symbolized the contact we have with God. I think you should read the rest and revise where appropriate. Again, I don’t have time to rewrite so many sections of this book, each writer should. So, in giving this gift, the wise men were saying that in addition to being a king, Jesus was a priest—an eternal priest who brings us to God (Hebrews 7:25).
As with the gifts of gold and frankincense, this gift points to something important about Jesus. Used for healing purposes, myrrh was put on injuries and wounds or also used when someone would die to keep their bodies from smelling.
As Jesus was dying on the cross, myrrh was mixed with wine and given to Him. It’s very likely the Roman soldiers did this to lessen His pain. But notice how Jesus refused to drink it, not wanting to lessen the pain and punishment for our sin. There’s also another mention of myrrh during this time 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).
Can you see the importance of this gift? If gold shows us He is King and frankincense reveals He is our eternal Priest, what does myrrh point to? It shows us how He was going to suffer and die for our sins!
As we think about what these gifts mean, let’s never forget the gift we received on Christmas! John 3:16 tells us that God gave His only Son so that all those who believe would receive the gift of eternal life!
Come together and make a birthday cake and cards for Jesus.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.