How The Magi’s Gifts Actually Prophesied About Jesus
by Pamela J. Adams
As we pack away our nativity scenes for another year, let us take a moment to reflect on the three wise men who visited the Christ child. While they surround our little baby Jesus laying in a manger, in reality these Gentiles did not visit Jesus until possibly two years after his birth. Christians refer to this event as Epiphany, or “The Gentile Christmas,” and celebrate it on January 6th. In fact, the song “12 Days of Christmas” represents the 12 days between Christmas to Epiphany.
"After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose 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, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route." (Matthew 2:9-12 NIV)
Matthew does not tell us exactly how many wise men actually made the trip. However, he does inform us of the three specific gifts they brought to the baby Jesus. Therefore, Christians traditionally use three Magi to match. These three gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh, give an amazing witness regarding Jesus’ true identity and purpose.
For a baby at that time to receive a gift at all, especially ones of such value, he would need to be one of high stature or royalty. So, for a poor Jewish baby, born in the lowliest and humblest way, to receive them would have been unimaginable. But that was the whole point. Regardless, their monetary value is not their real importance. It is what the gifts symbolize that prophesy about the young infant.
In Biblical times, gold was the most valuable of the medals even though it was in abundance. It denoted earthly riches, and thus related to royalty. Truly fitting for the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace of the heavenly kingdom.
The Israelites used gold too throughout the temple as God is the Most High. Among other items, God instructed Moses to cover the Ark of the Covenant, and its table and lamp stands in pure gold. (Exodus 25) Therefore, the gift of gold indicated Jesus would be a king.
When God listed the ingredients required for the holy perfume, among them was frankincense. Therefore, it was also used as a means of worshipping the one, true God.
"Then the LORD said to Moses, ''Take fragrant spices--gum resin, onycha and galbanum--and pure frankincense, all in equal amounts, and make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer. It is to be salted and pure and sacred.'” (Exodus 30: 34-35)
Priests placed this perfume in front of the Ark of the Covenant where God came to meet Israelites.
“And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.” (Luke 1:10)
The gift of frankincense acknowledged Jesus as God. This indicated we would worship and pray to him just as we do the Father.
Also in Exodus, God directed Moses to prepare a “sacred anointing oil.” This oil would be used to anoint kings and other leaders God chose to guide his people. God included myrrh among the oil's ingredients.
"Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh….Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil.” (Exodus 30:23, 25)
In Luke 4, Jesus entered the Synagogue to officially begin his ministry. Taking a scroll, he read the following passage from Isaiah.
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." (emphasis mine)
Jesus then began to preach, proclaiming, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." The gift of myrrh recognized Jesus as God’s Anointed One at his birth which he confirmed here.
Myrrh also revealed why Jesus came to earth and his purpose. During Jesus’ time, burial practices were much different than today. Loved ones prepared bodies with spices and oils before wrapped them and placing them in a tomb. Myrrh was one of the oils used in the preparation.
This gift predicted that Jesus' purpose was to die. God demanded a sacrifice for sin and Jesus would be the unblemished Passover Lamb to die for all our iniquities. His perfect life and brutal death paid for our transgressions. He took our deserved place on the cross, thus becoming our Lord and Savior.
God promised he would send a savior in Genesis when Adam and Eve first sinned.
"And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring (unbelievers) and hers (believers); he (Jesus) will crush your (Satan) head, and you will strike his heel (refers to Jesus' death).” (Genesis 3:15 notes mine)
God used the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to testify that our savior had arrived. We are told that Mary treasured all these things in her heart, which we can assume she relayed to the disciples later on. While Jesus was on earth, even those closest to him could not see the whole picture. However, after his resurrection and ascension, everything came into focus and all made sense. Imagine the joy Mary felt when she remembered Jesus' birth and the visits from the shepherds and the magi. How excited she must have been telling his followers about the clues God gave even from Jesus' conception!
This just goes to prove sometimes it's not so much the gift, but the thought behind it, that counts.
But that’s just my 2 cents.
May the saving grace of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ give you peace and comfort throughout the year and the rest of your days.
About the Author
Pamela J. Adams was a high school math teacher in an inner city school system but her passion is research and history. Pam has authored several genealogy books along with compilations of her historical blogs, Liberating Letters, which she maintains at her website TheFactsPaper.com. You can find more details about her books on her Amazon Page.
You can follow her current blogs at her Liberating Letters Facebook, Twitter, and Patreon accounts. Her desire is to provide a tool for teachers, parents, grandparents, and citizens to preserve and pass on America's rich history to students, family, and all people who love freedom and liberty. Pamela was also a contributing writer to Constitution.com before joining Pandora’s Box Gazette.
“Read more untold stories and how they still relate to us today at TheFactsPaper.com.”
You can read Pamela's “I Never Heard That” column on the 2nd Wednesday each month here at Pandora's Box Gazette.