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Who Cares about Gold, Frankincense, Myrrh?!

by Coach Debbie

“…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 and of incense and of myrrh.”  Matthew 2:11

You’re already considering reading no further, aren’t you?  Because you’ve heard this story plenty o’ times and maybe even have a nativity scene of some sort that you bring out of the attic every December.  Before you “x” out of this, what if there is something new to uncover here?  I offer no money-back guarantees, but I think you’ll gain a much greater love for the detailed nature of our Maker. 

These gift-giving guys were prophesied about in the Old Testament, way way way before Jesus was wrapped up in a barn.  In Psalm 72:10-11 we learn that “The kings of Tarshish and of distant shores will bring tribute to him; the kings of Sheba and Seba will present him with gifts.  All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him.”  Isn’t that really cool?  Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, implanted this knowledge into the mind of Solomon while he was still hanging out in heaven in pre-incarnate form.  He knew the end before it began.  Praise Him.

So these guys show up with some weird gifts, so what?  It was a form of worship, of honoring Christ for who he is.  Why gold, why frankincense, why myrrh?  These 3 items were extremely valuable back in the day when inns were full.

They were offering him the best. 

Are we? 

Do we give him our valuables?  No, I’m serious.  Do we? 

Do we lay our prized possessions at his feet with full trust?  Our family, our friends, our cash, our house, our job. 

Have you told him he can have it all? 

My heart feels pricked if I’m being honest.

If you’ve had enough Bible time, save this link and email it to yourself so you remember to finish it later.  I get it, you’re busy.  If you’re ready to go another inch deeper, put on another video for your kids and let’s go.

If you’ve had enough Bible time, save this link and email it to yourself so you remember to finish it later.  I get it, you’re busy.  If you’re ready to go another inch deeper, put on another video for your kids and let’s go.

This one we are familiar with.  Gold was a gift for kings and represented kingship.  It was a symbol of divinity, royalty, wealth and power.  I sometimes picture humble ol’ Jesus riding on a donkey so meekly.  That guy is the king of the world, and those wise men knew it!  He is divine (God made flesh) and all-powerful.  How interesting that God instructed the Tabernacle to be made of a ridiculous amount of gold; he instructed the Temple to be made of a ridiculous amount of gold; and when we get to heaven, the streets are made of, what’s that, gold.

CLIFFS NOTES:  Gold fit for a king, The King. 


Still with me or do you need to go check on the kids?


I have to get this off my chest; every time I hear “frankincense” I think Frankenstein.  It’s so annoying.  Now I’ve affected you, sorry.  Frankincense is the chief ingredient of incense (use that on Bible Trivia one day).  It’s this white resin gum that is obtained from a tree.   Remember that fact, okay?  So it’s this fragrant blend that priests used as a holy offering because its aroma pleased God.  This luxury item was used in offerings that reminded people that they owed their lives to God the Provider.  It showed him reverence and honor as they worshiped him.

I wish you could see my 4 pages of notes that my eyes are scanning so I can make sense of it all.

Incense (because I just can’t visualize Frankenstein one more minute) confesses that Christ alone can convey our prayers and our very souls to God.  How?  Picture incense like hippies love.  It rises up just as our prayers rise up to his ears.  Incense is about the heart; it was not required.  Just as prayer is not required for us to inhale and exhale right now.  As incense, a symbol of holiness and righteousness, burned on the Old Testament altar, it is very symbolic.  HE is our eternal high priest.  It symbolizes his willingness to become a sacrifice, completely giving himself up, just as a burnt offering does.  He IS the altar of incense; he interceded and paid the price for our sin and forgave us.  As one article I read said, “Compare the smell of incense to the stench of sin.”  Whoa.  Our prayers are like this rising incense.  The last book of the Bible, in Revelation 5, says there are bowls of incense which are the “prayers of the saints.”  Our prayers please him, the great priest.  Remember how incense starts in a tree—where was Jesus crucified?  It’s all about a tree.

Are we actively praying to our great priest who we have direct access to?  Do we recognize his holiness?  Do we grasp his sacrifice?

CLIFFS NOTES:  Incense is symbolic of his priestly role as he became the offering. 


At this point you may need a nap.  Hang in there.



Like Frankenstein, er, frankincense, myrrh is a highly valuable frangrant oil/spice that is obtained from the gum of an Arabian tree (I don’t have to connect those dots again).  It was appropriate for a king’s wedding (speaking of, did you know you’re invited to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb?  I can’t even go into that tangent right now, so just go read Revelations.).   Back in Old Testament times, myrrh was a holy anointing oil for priests (we already know the priest connection since we are now Bible scholars).  In New Testament times, though, it shifted.  It was used for embalming.  The wise men knew this little boy was Savior.  This Savior was going to die for us.  Jesus, as he hung from that tree, was offered myrrh but he refused it.  Why?  Myrrh contained sedative properties that numb the senses; he chose to feel the full force of his suffering.  I can barely fight tears knowing that he opted to carry my sin so fully.   Myrrh was associated with death and a guy named Nicodemus carried some to Jesus’ tomb with plans to embalm his body (spoiler alert: Jesus’ body wasn’t there, praise God).  He was born to die.

CLIFFS NOTES:  Myrrh was a prefiguring of Jesus’ death. 


I’m glad you stuck it out to the end.  I love being more clued in to Biblical information.  It causes me to love Him more and know Him better.  And may I suggest a new gift-giving guide, Mom?  I know you’re already heard of it and maybe already practice it, but consider being a Wise (wo)Man and give each kid just 3 gifts this Christmas.  If God With Us in all His perfect holiness only got 3 gifts, I think it’s okay to limit how many our little bundles of joy get too.