The Significance of the Gifts / Ingredients For Christmas Worship
Matthew 2:8-11 says, “He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find Him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship Him.’ After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 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 and of incense and of myrrh.”
The Old and New Testament Scriptures hold truths about the birth of Jesus Christ. The truths regarding the gifts offered by the Magi are worthy of consideration if we desire to give Christ the honor He deserves. God has often used symbolism to breath truth into the hearts of God fearing people. There are symbolic meanings found in Scripture which should have an influence on how we honor the King of kings.
First, the Bible says “they opened their treasures and presented Him with Gold.” Gold (χρυσός chrusós) is often seen as symbolic for a gift worthy of a king, a precious metal prized for it’s beauty and value, an appropriate gift for royalty. Seneca tells us that in Parthia it was the custom, no one could ever approach the king without a gift. Gold at the time of the birth of Christ was and is now a precious metal, a gift for the King of men. Jesus is the God man Whom can reign and rule over men’s hearts. In the hearts of Christians there is submission to Jesus, the Devine person of Whom the gift of gold can be symbolic of us giving our best to Him.
Second, “They presented Him with the treasure… of incense.” “Frankincense” (λίβανος líbanos) often referred in Scripture as an aroma pleasing to the Lord. It is a fragrance which is offered in direct adoration to the Lord. This incense reflected His deity and was sprinkled on many of the sacrifices in the Old Testament. (Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.) Frankincense is a gift for a priest. The Latin word for priest is ponitfex, which means a bridge-builder. It is not out of line to see the gift of Frankincense being offered to the One Whom is our “high priest who is not unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16) The Christ’s born in Bethlehem is the bridge-builder over the gulf of sin that once separated us from God.
Third, “They presented Him with the treasure… [of] myrrh.” Myrrh (σμύρνα smúrna) an expensive spice used for making perfume, incense, medicine, for anointing and embalming the dead. During Biblical times, myrrh was an important trade item. Myrrh is a aromatic fragrant which radiates spontaneously and is highly favored for preserving a corpse. (ThoughtCo; Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 77). New York: United Bible Societies; Barclay, W. (Ed.). (1976). The Gospel of Matthew (Vol. 1, pp. 32–33). Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster John Knox Press.) We know that Nicodemus mixed myrrh and aloes together, seventy-five pounds of it. He and Joseph of Arimathea, took the spices put it on Jesus’ body and wrapped it in linen strips, in accordance with Jewish burial customs. (John 19:38-42) It is interesting to read in Exodus, myrrh is the first mentioned principal ingredient in the holy anointing oil. (Easton, M. G. (1893). In Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers; Vine, W. E., Unger, M. F., & White, W., Jr. (1996). Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Vol. 2, p. 423). Nashville, TN: T. Nelson.) Oil is frequently mentioned in Scripture as an emblem of sanctification and anointing with it is a means of designating objects as well as persons to the service of God. In Exodus 30:23 we read the oil was prescribed by God’s authority. (Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 68). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) Jesus’ birth was ordained by God. It has been well said, “Christ’s was born to die, to give His life in obedience for the sins of the world.”
Note: The heartbeat of the Magi, the wise men gave a gift to Jesus worthy for the King of kings, a gift for the one Whom is the final High Priest, a gift for the One Who was the only pure sacrifice for the sins of the world. It should also be noted, although the gifts presented truths about who Jesus Christ was for all of mankind, the gifts also provided for the needs of Jesus and His family when they fled for Egypt. Are you giving Christ your best? Are you allowing Him to be the priest, the bridge-builder over the gulf of sin that can keep you from a relationship with God? Lastly, are you like the Apostle Paul saying, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) Those are the ingredients for Christmas worship which is a pleasing aroma to the Lord.