Why Those Gifts?


They entered the house and saw the child with His mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. - Matthew 2:11

Ever had a Christmas or birthday when you’ve gotten a gift but weren’t sure why it was given to you? Whether it was something random or not exactly something considered appropriate? I’m sure Mary and Joseph may have thought similar things when the magi brought their gifts to their young son, the Christ. But when we look deeper than the words written in the sacred Bible, there are some foreshadowing elements to these gifts as well as practicality and even cultural significance.

G O L D

Gold is a precious metal and since Christ is considered the King, the Messiah who would reign, the gift of gold symbolizes His authority and divinity. It is also speculated as to whether this gold was what helped fund this family’s journey to Egypt when King Herod demanded the execution of young, male children in the land.

F R A N K I N C E N S E

Frankincense, also referred to as incense and gum olibanum, is the gum or resin of the Boswellia tree, used for making perfume. In Hebrew the word for Frankincense means “white” referring to its color. This oil is considered the king of all oils; therefore, it too has great worth. It has tremendous healing properties, from skin conditions to anti-inflammatory, digestion to anxiety. Since incense was used in priestly manners, this gift symbolizes Christ’s priestly role and righteousness.

M Y R R H

Myrrh is an expensive spice that is also used for perfume and incense, in addition to medicine and anointing the dead. The usage of myrrh in Scripture goes back to the Old Testament where it is used as anointing oil in the Tabernacle (Exodus 30:23-25) and the women who were to go before King Xerxes were given it as beauty treatment (Esther 2:12-13). It too comes from a tree (Commiphora myrrha) in the form of a gum resin. Myrrh also helps with digestion and immune support, as well as wound healing, women’s health, and to slow bleeding, so it is likely this gift was to be used by both Mary and Christ. This gift symbolizes and foreshadows Christ’s eventual death and sacrifice.

Sometimes, when given gifts, even if they don’t always reflect the receiver, they do represent the giver. These magi were wealthy, affluent men from foreign nations. Their gifts were what they had to offer, so in their own way, they were honoring Christ the way they would someone from their own culture. This in itself can even be representation of the eventual relationship of Gentiles (anyone who wasn’t Jewish) coming to Christ.

This scene, of foreigners traveling a great distance to see and honor Christ, is truly beautiful and is one we should implement in our own lives. We may not have to physically travel miles to see Christ incarnate, but we do need to make our own effort to come to Christ in our spiritual lives. Whether we need to come before Him as sinners in need of saving redemption, laying ourselves before His holy feet; whether we need to come before Him as believers who have lost our way in need of forgiveness and guidance, laying down our pride; or whether we need to come before Him with all our concerns and worries, laying down our burdens - we must come to Christ and with the gift of our praise. That is what the magi did. They traveled to give Christ praise, acknowledging and proclaiming who He is, and that is what we must do today - give Him the gift of our adoration.

Reflection

1. What must I lay down at Christ’s feet today?

2. How can I best show Christ my adoration?

Prayer

Jesus, Thank You for coming to earth as my Savior. You are beyond worthy of my praise and no gift can amount to my gratitude for what You have done for me, but today I offer You ________ . You are my almighty King who has all authority, my righteous Priest who has redeemed me, and the spotless Lamb who took my place upon the cross. Take the gifts I offer to You and use them for Your glory. Amen.

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