“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.”
Why did the Wise Men bring myrrh as a gift for Jesus, along with their gifts of frankincense and gold? This is an interesting question, and many people have pondered the meanings of all the gifts given to Jesus, but I think it is unlikely that we can give a definitive answer.
Myrrh is a resin from the bark of certain varieties of the commiphora tree. When the bark splits (or is deliberately tapped), a fluid is exuded. This hardens in the air into lumps, called tears. The solid tears are reddish or golden brown in color. They are sweet-smelling but bitter to the taste. When consumed, myrrh has a stimulant effect.
It is also clear from the Old Testament that myrrh had value. When Joseph was sold to the Ishmaelites by his brothers, that group of travelers was on their way to Egypt “with their camels bearing gum, balm, and myrrh” (Genesis 37:25). Later, when Jacob was sending his sons to Egypt for food (where they would unknowingly meet Joseph again), he urged them to take a number of items of value, including myrrh.
In John 19:39, Nicodemus brought myrrh and aloes with him to Jesus’ grave. Its aromatic properties presumably would make it ideal as an embalming material. Therefore, it could be said that myrrh speaks of death. Perhaps the Wise Men were being prophetic, when they brought Jesus gold, for His kingship, frankincense to represent prayers, because Jesus was and is God, and myrrh to represent the fact that He was to die to cleanse repentant sinners of their sins.
Prayer: We praise You, Lord God, because You left nothing to chance. You gave us Your Son, Jesus, to be the propitiation for our sins. Thank You, Lord. Amen.
Ref: Encyclopædia Britannica, < https://www.britannica.com/topic/myrrh >, accessed 07/26/2017. Image: Franz Eugen Köhler, Public Domain.
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