Featured, Theology & Worldview

Gifts of the Magi: Christmas Part 1

We’ve all heard the Christmas story before. Several wise men followed a special star, found the city of Bethlehem, and worshipped the newborn king. Of course, they did not just worship God’s son, but brought Him special gifts they had prepared. These wise men gave gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  Now, these seem like great gifts right? Who knows what frankincense and myrrh are, but we all assume that they are amazing gifts that a king should receive—and they aren’t wrong. In fact, there are many reasons why Jesus received these gifts and their meaning. Not only is this giving of gifts special, but it symbolizes something much more important.

#1 What are Frankincense and Myrrh?

I know, I know, you guys probably want to head straight into why the wise men gave these specific things to Jesus, but I thought I’d give some background on what frankincense and myrrh actually are.

  1. Frankincense is dried, orange sap that comes from trees in the Boswellia genus. It is used as an essential oil and is also burned as incense. It has a light, fruity smell and has been around for over 2000 years. Frankincense was often used in the temple to be burned as incense.
  2. Myrrh, like frankincense, is also dried tree sap. It comes from trees of the genus Commiphora and has a dark brown color. It is used as incense, as an essential oil, and as medicine also. 2000 years ago, they used it to cover the smell of decaying bodies.

#2 Reasons for giving

There are speculations as to why the wise men gave such gifts to Jesus at His birth and while there are many plausible ideas, these are the most convincing.

  • He is a king

In ancient times, frankincense, myrrh, and gold were commonly given as gifts to a king.  Because the wise men knew that Jesus is the prophesied king, they gave to Him accordingly.

  • The gifts are symbolism of Jesus Himself.

The gold represents His kingship, frankincense represents his role in the temple, and myrrh represents the sacrifice He makes.

  • Heart of worship

The wise men came to Bethlehem in order to worship Jesus. In doing so, they brought an offering unto the Lord to express their awe and respect.

 

Coming into the world, Jesus had only one purpose—to be our savior. When the wise men gave these specific gifts to Jesus, they gave it as a way to welcome the king and savior of all peoples into the world. They lay down these gifts at His feet because they knew that they were receiving something greater than anything in this world.

 

I hope that each of you this Christmas remember that Jesus came into the world to save us. He had no other reason. That is the gift we have received.

 

Note from the Author: Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you enjoyed this small article and enjoy the rest(yes there’s more)! Look for parts 2 and 3! (plus an amazing article on redemption!)

2 Comments

  1. This was really interesting, Carolyn. I did not know what the gifts represented. Thank you for this article.