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.10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 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.
Gold because He is King. Frankincense because He is Priest. Myrrh because He is Prophet. And each of these gifts also had a direct connection to worship.
Throughout the Bible, the accumulation of gold was considered one of the chief measures of wealth. Because of its value and scarcity, it is associated with royalty. By bringing gold as a gift to Jesus, the wise men were acknowledging that He was a King. In worship, gold was used to fashion the implements of worship and the furniture pieces that were in the tabernacle. Later, when the more permanent structure of the temple was built, gold was used to overlay the walls. Gold shines in brilliance and is a picture of the holiness, purity and glory of God.
Frankincense is an aromatic gum resin. When burned as an incense, it releases a wonderful, fragrant aroma. It was used by the priests as one of the primary ingredients in worship in the temple on the altar of incense. We can find the details for this in Exodus 30:34-38. So valuable and sacred was this particular mixture of spices and “pure frankincense” that the people were instructed to not use that recipe, or that compound, for any other purpose than for worship.
Myrrh, much like frankincense, could be used as an incense as well. It had great fragrant qualities, but more particularly, it was used in anointing oil. When absorbed, it also carried medicinal benefits. Again, going back to the temple, Exodus 30 tells us that myrrh was a main ingredient in the anointing oil used to ceremonially prepare the priests, the instruments, the altar, and the Temple itself before sacrifices could be made. It’s no wonder then that myrrh was a key ingredient in the mixture of spices that were used to prepare Jesus’ body for burial (John 19:39-40).
“Christ” literally means “Anointed One”. And when Jesus began His ministry, He stood in the temple, read the following prophetic passage out of Isaiah 61, and said “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
King, Priest and Prophet. Normally these three offices were distinct from each other. But Jesus perfectly fills all three roles simultaneously.
Today is Christmas Eve. And as I think back on all we’ve covered over these 24 days, I can’t help but look at this entire journey through the filter of the story continuing – with us, and through us. 1 Peter 2:9 says we are a royal priesthood, “But you are God’s chosen treasure—priests who are kings, a spiritual “nation” set apart as God’s devoted ones. He called you out of darkness to experience his marvelous light, and now he claims you as his very own. He did this so that you would broadcast his glorious wonders throughout the world.” He is the ultimate King, Priest and Prophet. Yet we are formed in His likeness. And as we continue to behold Him, we become more and more like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18). Taking on His nature, operating in His ways, resembling His children.
It is no wonder to me that we land with a highlight of this prophetic passage out Isaiah 61. All He came to do, we have been anointed and empowered to participate in. And for me, the story of Christmas is not just a reflection back to what happened so very long ago. It’s a story that continues. With you and with me. It’s a commissioning. The Spirit of the Lord God is upon….me. I (and you, as followers and children of God) have been appointed to preach, to heal, to proclaim, to recover, to free, to release and to declare. Not out of our own strength, but as children of God, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and as a nation of kings and priests unto Him.
Want to celebrate the joy of Christmas all year round? Then go and do what He did. Comfort those who mourn. Rebuild the old ruins. Raise up former desolated places. Repair ruined cities. Heal the sick. Cleanse the lepers. Prophecy to dry bones. Break off the demonic presence from people, and raise the dead back to life. Freely you have received the power of the kingdom, freely give. All. Year. Long.