Why Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh?
Reverend Anthony R. Locke
November 28th, 2010 www.FirstPresTucker.org
at the First Presbyterian Church of Tucker
Matthew 2:9-11 1st Sunday of Advent with Baptism English Standard Version
9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was.
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
The Queen of Sheba came from afar to honor the most glorious King of Israel ever to reign. 1 Kings 10:2 says, She came to Jerusalem . . . with camels bearing spices and very much gold and precious stones. The three kings in Matthew also came from afar and brought gifts that reveal an informed faith about the identity of Jesus and the path His life would take.
These treasures serve as an outward sign of an inward grace about the person of Jesus. These three gifts mark the Christ Child much like Baptism marks a child of God. The symbolism speaks about future realities that are already true because of the promises of God.
The three treasures marked the baby Jesus.
- Jesus is a King and therefore gold is appropriate for those who wish to approach Him.
- Jesus is a Priest and frankincense is central to His ministry and work.
- Jesus is the Man of Sorrows. The bitterness of Myrrh speaks of His suffering as a man.
And these outward gifts mark Jesus for the life that He will live, but they also mark us.
God intends to infuse the life of the faithful with these same treasures.
If we fail to understand the glory that these three gifts represent, if we fail to give honor to the Lord, then (Matthew 12:42) The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.
If we as the church are to be the crowning beauty of the Lord, then these three treasures must be true for our life just as they were true for Jesus.
First, gold must represent our life as it represented the life of Christ. How?
For Jesus, the gift of gold identified His as the King. By adoption we also are children of the heavenly Father. We are qualified to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
We are not children frantically trying to earn our daddy’s favor.
Galatians 4:6-7 And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
By faith we should be constantly aware of our heavenly nobility as children of the King.
The lives of God’s children are filled with golden references from the scriptures.
The gold represents our life when we live within the family distinctives. Lots of parents remind their teenagers walking out the front door with this phrase, “remember whose you are.” We too must build the foundation of our life (1 Corinthians 3:12-14) with gold, silver, precious stones and not the wood, hay, and straw of this world.
And if we will do this, then we too will be like the temple in the Old Testament. Built with gold (1 Kings 6) and filled with golden treasures (Proverbs 24:3-4). 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body and your spirit which are God’s.
Even Old Testament Job knew that he was marked by the gold of the King of Kings. Job 23:10 He knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
1 Peter 1:6-7 says, our faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
And in that final day of glory the heavenly gold that Jesus will prize the most will be the gold of our faith and of our life.
The second way our life is marked by the treasures given to Christ is by frankincense.
We are called to be priests like Jesus.
Revelation 1:5-6 To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
In Exodus 30:34-38 God instructs Aaron how to make a worship fragrance using frankincense. Aaron was the first priest; Jesus is the great high priest after the order of Melchizedek. And Jesus offers up a sweet offering of worship to the Father that works forgiveness for our sin while on the cross.
And Jesus calls us to a life of priestly duties.
We are called to redeem the time, to be engaged in the ministry of reconciliation, to pray intercessory prayers for others and to stand in the gap between the coming judgment of God and the sins of the people.
Furthermore, our life is to be marked by a fragrance of worship.
Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Like Jesus who offered Himself, we offer ourselves in sacrificial worship to God.
2 Corinthians 2:15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ. The Father experiences the Son through us, as a beautiful fragrance, when our life is lived redemptively for others.
The frankincense marked Jesus as the Great Intercessor, the Promised One who would take away the sins of His people. We too should be marked with this fragrance in priestly duties for others.
The third way our life is marked by the treasures given to Christ is by myrrh.
Myrrh is a tree resin and comes out only as the tree is wounded. It was a component of the anointing oil used by the priests Exodus 30:22-33. Myrrh was often used as an embalming paste for those who were dead.
The bitterness of myrrh marked the kind of life Jesus would live.
Jesus was well acquainted with grief. Surely he borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53)
Jesus began His life with myrrh and ended it the same way. On the cross He was offered myrrh mixed with wine but rejected it. Jesus did not dull His senses to the bitterness of becoming our curse while hanging on that tree.
Jesus received myrrh only after His death when Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus used it on the linens in which they wrapped Jesus for burial. John 19:38-40.
And if we are to receive all the marks of Jesus, then we must allow our life to be marked by myrrh also.
Romans 6:11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
We must live unto God and be dead unto sin. Romans 8:17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
If we wish to be marked with the treasures of Jesus, then we must be willing to suffer for Jesus’ sake. But remember, Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
The suffering is temporary and the glory is forever. One day we will see Jesus face to face and bring Him the gold of a purified faith and the fragrance of a purified life.
Hear this verses out of Isaiah and notice what treasure is missing.
Isaiah 60:1+6 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you . . . bring gold and frankincense, and bring good news, the praises of the Lord.
In the day of resurrection we shall all come before the Lamb to offer ourselves as the golden crown of the beauty of the glorified Christ. We will be the fragrance of Christ to God forever. But what is missing? There will be no myrrh.
“Tears won’t stain the streets of that city, no rays of death on our mansion door. Tears aren’t welcome beyond the gates of glory, for the heart will never break anymore.”
The Kingship of Christ and the fragrance of His holiness and love are everlasting, but the suffering represented in the myrrh will only be remembered when we see the scars on the hands of our Savior.
And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
When you see Jesus, what treasures will you bring to the Lord?
May it be a life marked by the same treasures that marked the life of our Lord. Amen.
( We then had a baptismal service )
 The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.