In the gospel of Matthew we see that the first ones that Matthew has show up on the scene are the Magi. What is the reaction of the first ones who are the Magi in the gospel of Matthew to come before Jesus? It is worship. It is all about worship. We see that the Wise Men showed great wisdom in that they came to worship the new born King.
In their worship we see in verse 11 that they gave Him gifts–gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Let us read it: 11After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These were some strange presents to be bringing a baby boy. The gold, of course, we all can understand because of its value, but the frankincense and myrrh are not normal gifts.
We can guess that these Wise Men had also been exposed by Daniel’s teachings for one thing. One of the most fascinating aspects of the Biblical story of Daniel is that this young prophet who was able to interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream about future world empires in Daniel 2 and so then he was honored by Nebuchadnezzar by making him the chief of his “Wise Men” as you can read Daniel 2:48. From this position Daniel undoubtedly influenced many to believe in Jehovah and the Hebrew Scriptures. They were aware of the prophecies of a coming Messiah through whom all the world would be blessed. I believe that the Magi might have been some of those who because of Daniel’s influence with the Wise Men who came before them have been influenced indirectly by him.
I am sure they were familiar with Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 60:3 which says, “Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. And then Isaiah 60:6 which says, “A multitude of camels will cover you, The young camels of Midian and Ephah; All those from Sheba will come; They will bring gold and frankincense, And will bear good news of the praises of the LORD. Knowing this Scripture could explain the first two gifts and their worship, it certainly does not explain the myrrh.
In Biblical times myrrh was a perfume, like frankincense. But the strange thing and unlike frankincense, myrrh always seemed to used in regard to death and burial. It was the embalmers choice for preparing a corpse for burial. Jesus himself would be embalmed with this very perfume in John 19:39, which says, Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. Stop here and think could the magi be thinking of Jesus’ death when they brought the myrrh?
I would say that it is possible that they were thinking of his death. Over the centuries the truths of Daniel’s prophecy in 9:24-27 could have been read and passed down, and in that prophecy it says that the ‘Messiah will be cut off’ and this ‘will make atonement for iniquity’ and ultimately ‘bring in everlasting righteousness’. It is possible and so this may be how God led those Wise Men to bring that third gift of Myrrh with them. Amazingly, even at Christ’s birth, the shadow of the cross is already falling over His life. No wonder that they are seeking him to worship if they understand this truth – that this baby was born so he could die as savior of the world. When we really understand this truth it should bring us to the point of worship.
How about you? Have you made the point of Christmas to be worship of King and Savior? What are your thoughts?