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The Gifts of the Wise Men

The Signs of Christmas  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The gifts of the magi reflect what the Scriptures say the Messiah will be: Prophet, Priest, and King. Which gift do you identify with the most when it comes to how you view Jesus?

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The Scriptures record that when the wise men arrived where Jesus was, they had brought three types of gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Each of these gifts has a symbolic meaning attached to it which gives us insight into who Jesus is: our ultimate Prophet, Priest, and King.

Myrrh - Anointment of Prophets

Myrrh had two purposes in the Scriptures. The first was that it was used as a spice in anointing oil. According to Shari Abbott, “It was mixed into the oil that was used to anoint prophets for the divinely appointed work of revealing God and communicating His will and words to His people”
The prophesied Messiah in the Scriptures is said to be a prophet. A prophet is someone sent by God to give people his message. We see this in the Old Testament: each of the prophets is called by God and come with a distinct
message. An article from Loyola Press says, “In Scripture Jesus is presented as a prophet.
Crowds identified him as ‘Jesus the prophet’
Matthew 21:11 ESV
And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
He spoke of himself as a prophet
Luke 4:24 ESV
And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown.
But there is a somewhat more subtle message in the gift of Myrrh......through the gift and its use, Christ was foretelling His passion and resurrection.
See, the second use for myrrh was as an embalming fluid. This might appear odd, but the ancient church understood the symbolism of myrrh to be pointing toward the day Jesus died for the sins of the world
A Jewish priest in the time of the Bible was seen as a mediator between God and his people. This was an important role in the religious life of the people of God. Even today one of the titles of the pope in Catholicism is Pontifex Maximus. In usage it means head priest......but strictly translated… it means bridge builder from Latin pont-, pons bridge + facere to make. See the ancient church believed that the role of the priest, was to build or provide a bridge between God and Man. Jesus, as the TRUE high priest was seeking to build a bridge between a Holy God and fallen man.
“On the Day of Atonement the Jewish high priest went into the Holy of Holies in the Temple. There he offered sacrifice to God to make up for his sins and the sins of the people” (“Jesus: Prophet, Priest, and King,” Loyola Press). It is with this understanding that the writer of Hebrews is able to compare Jesus to the mysterious priest of the Old Testament, Melchizedek, as the better and more perfect high priest. As a prophet, Jesus life was spent in pointing people to the truth of God’s Word and the truth of His grace and mercy through the sacrifice of His Son. The offering of Myrrh at His birth paid tribute to the truth that He was and is a prophet seeking to spread the word of God.

Frankincense - Perfume of Priests

Frankincense is a resin from India and Arabia and is known for its use in incense and perfumes, as well as for its healing properties. In Exodus it was used in the sanctuary of the Lord, and the book of Leviticus mentions its use several times (2:1, 16; 6:15; 24:7). Shari Abbott writes, “Because of the use in the Temple, frankincense is considered to be emblematic of Jesus’ office as a Priest of God.
Exodus 30:34–37 ESV
The Lord said to Moses, “Take sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum, sweet spices with pure frankincense (of each shall there be an equal part), and make an incense blended as by the perfumer, seasoned with salt, pure and holy. You shall beat some of it very small, and put part of it before the testimony in the tent of meeting where I shall meet with you. It shall be most holy for you. And the incense that you shall make according to its composition, you shall not make for yourselves. It shall be for you holy to the Lord.
It is also symbolic of the priest’s work in offering the prayers of the people to the Lord”
Luke 1:10 ESV
And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense.
Revelation 8:3–4 ESV
And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.
Frankincense is still used in many churches today as incense on Sundays and during holy feast days. Incense of any kind may be used in liturgical churches—most notably, the Eastern Orthodox churches, Roman Catholic, and Anglican churches. Anointing oil is often blended with Frankincense due to this connection with the Priesthood and offering prayers before the Lord.
The Frankincense offered to Christ at His birth recognized His role as our High Priest and as He who would stand at the right hand of God interceding on our behalf.

Gold - Gift for a King

The last of the gifts is gold. Gold in biblical times meant wealth, but it also had royal connotations. Robert Hampshire observes that “the gold points to Jesus’ royalty, the frankincense to his divinity, and the myrrh to his humanity.” The gifts of the wise men tell who Jesus is “in a tangible way”
Gifts are an important part of many cultures. In many cultures gifts are given on birthdays, at weddings and on wedding anniversaries, and on certain holidays. Christians exchange gifts on Christmas. Jews exchange gifts at Hanukkah, and some Muslims exchange gifts at the end of Ramadan. Just like in the Bible, sometimes gifts have special meaning, intended to say something about the receiver of the gift. For example, at many ordinations in the church, the newly ordained are gifted a Bible, as new preachers of the Word of God. In many denominations, a gift given at baptism is a candle, meant to represent the light of Christ and new birth. People are encouraged to light the candle on the anniversary of their baptism, to recall their new birth and remember the promises made at baptism.
As king, Jesus will rule over us so that sin no longer has a hold on us. In Scripture, a king was understood to be one who was meant to establish peace, prosperity, and welfare for his kingdom. Scripture holds King David up as a sort of prototype for a good king. Yet Jesus is greater than even King David.
Anthony Carter writes, “[Jesus] is ‘the ruler of kings on earth’ (Rev. 1:5) and ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’ (19:16), including David. He rules with perfect justice and equity. As our King, He has fought our battles and now rules in such a way that sin can never reign over us.
1 Peter 1:7 ESV
so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
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