“On coming to the house, they saw the child with His mother Mary, and the [Magi] bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11)
God, through these Magi is showing the attitude of the heart He longs to see in those who approach Christ. All who have hope in Christ will fall before Him in their hearts, they adore Him and submit to His authority.
Gold is the gift for a king – Seneca tells us that in Parthia it was a custom that no one entered into the king’s presence without a gift. Gold at that time period was considered to be a metal of kings. Jesus is the King of kings who serves and reigns through sacrificial love and full authority over everything in heaven and earth.
Frankincense is the gift for a priest – It was in the Temple worship and during Temple sacrifices frankincense was the sweet perfume used. The function of a priest is to open the way to God for man through the sacrifice being offered. The Latin word for priest (pontifex) means bridge builder.
This is what Christ did for us. His sacrificial death on the cross built a bridge so repentant mankind can have a way for getting back to God, have fellowship with God, know God’s will, and be empowered for service to the King of kings.
Myrrh is the gift for one who is to die – Myrrh was used to embalm the bodies of the dead. Jesus came to reveal God to man and He came to die. Holman Hunt has a famous picture of Jesus. It shows Jesus at the door of the carpenter shop in Nazareth. He is still only a boy and had come to the door to stretch out his arms so to give them a break from working over a bench. In this picture He stands at the doorway with arms outstretched and on the wall behind him, the setting sun throws his shadow in the form of a cross. In the background there stands Mary, and as she sees the shadow there is concern on her face of the coming tragedy that awaits the sinless Christ, all because of the wickedness of man’s heart.
All three gifts honor Christ, thus Christians will worship Him in spirit and truth!