The Gifts of The Magi: Frankincense and Myrrh

They entered  the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  -Matthew 2:11

Epiphany. The day on the christian calendar that remembers the visit of the Magi.

Have you ever wondered why the Magi gave Mary, Joseph and Jesus gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh? Gold makes sense, but why frankincense and myrrh? After all, if the gifts themselves weren’t important, why were they mentioned?

All three were treasures, rich with meaning. That’s just how God works. So many hidden messages in just one word. One story. The significance of these gifts should not be overlooked. 

The fact that both frankincense and myrrh were holy anointing oils shows us the magi understood who Jesus was. The anointed King. It pointed to His priesthood.

Frankincense and myrrh were also significant in that they were used in the embalming process, likely foreshadowing Jesus’ death for all of mankind.  Myrrh specifically was associated with affliction and death. According to the gospel of Mark, Jesus was offered wine mixed with myrrh on the cross.

At the time of Jesus’ birth, both of these oils were worth more than the gold. They were among the most expensive items in the world. Their value came in all that they could do. Still can do. Their health benefits have been known for thousands of years. Whatever form they came in, frankincense and myrrh were not only given for their spiritual meaning and purpose, but also to provide for Mary, Joseph and Jesus’ physical needs. Yes, God is in the details. He thinks of everything. 

After all these years, the grounding, earthy aroma of these ancient resins has not changed. They are still valuable. Still available. Our modern world has just lost sight of them. Long before humankind began working in a lab to make synthetic remedies, there was frankincense and myrrh.  It baffles me that more trust is placed in what man has made, than in what God has provided. Why is there doubt about the goodness of God’s creation and the provisions he makes through it? Why are they considered alternative options when they are actually the original? 

I hope you take a few moments to think on this. To understand the importance  of these ancient gifts and the value they still bring. 

The way I see it, if it was good enough for Jesus, then it’s good enough for me! 

Read more about the ancient oils  Here
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