Why gold, frankincense, and myrrh?
The Magi from the East were the first Gentiles to encounter Jesus. They are believed to have been custodians of special religious and philosophical knowledge at the time of His birth, and they understood that a universal ruler would soon be born from the nation of Israel. In bringing gifts to the newborn king, they fulfilled a number of Old Testament prophecies regarding Gentile kings who would bring gifts to the Messiah (see Isaiah 60:6, Tobit 13:11, and Ps 72:10). As a symbol of wealth and power, they brought gold to honor Christ’s kingship as ruler of all nations. Frankincense (or incense) points to Christ’s divinity, as this was an important item used in worship. As a burial ointment, myrrh points to Christ’s humanity – particularly foreshadowing His passion and death. Although these men were pagan religious leaders, the Magi exhibited Christian faith by presented gifts that acknowledged Jesus as the King of Kings. In other words, their external gifts were representations of their internal gift of faith. On this feast of Epiphany, we are reminded and encouraged that the best gift we can give Jesus this Christmas is a heartfelt faith.