Along with their desire to worship the new born king, the wise men came bearing some very symbolic gifts. Bringing prophetic gifts to a post-birth baby shower had been a great idea. The parents were filled with awe as the amazing gifts were revealed – Gold! Frankincense! and then, Myrrh? Although often used in expensive fragrances, myrrh was the substance most commonly associated with death as it was used in the embalming process. Mary’s initial reaction was probably not good. What were these wise men implying by this gift?
Myrrh is a substance gained from cutting the sapwood and harvesting the resin. In the Bible, apart from being used in Jesus’ time for the embalming process, it was also a major ingredient in the anointing oil used in the Old Testament tent of meeting and put on the High Priest who performed sacrifices for the people’s sins. We see it again as a fragrance in Song of Songs, Proverbs and Esther. Then as a pain killer, which Jesus refused while hanging on the cross. Though in this context of Jesus’ birth, myrrh spoke of death and sacrifice. The message from this gift was clear – Jesus had been born to be a sacrifice
This prophetic gift thus implied something in the natural no mother wanted to hear. However in the spiritual, Jesus’ sacrificial death was something wonderful. His mission was key to us experiencing what was promised from the other gifts – Christ’s rule, that gives victory over the kingdom of darkness(Gold) and Christ’s priesthood, which reconciles people to God (Frankincense). Let us treasure what his sacrificial gift has done for us this Christmas! May it draw us closer to God in thankfulness, praise and surrender.