“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’” –Matthew 2:1-2
According to an early Armenian source, the names of the three magi were Kaspar, Melkon, and Baghdasar. Kaspar was thought to be from India, Melkon from Persia, and Baghdasar from Arabia. However, the truth is that it is difficult to confirm this information. We do not know how many magi visited, or their ethnicity, and we are uncertain what a career as a magus entails. The Bible remains silent on these issues. But what we do know for sure is that the magi brought three gifts that show us why Jesus Christ is worthy of our worship. The gold, frankincense, and myrrh are symbolic of why Jesus Christ is humanity’s greatest gift.
The gift of gold represents Jesus our king. Jesus is the long-awaited messiah that fulfilled the promises of the Old Testament. King Jesus is the one whose kingdom will have no end (2 Samuel 7). Christmas is the inauguration of heaven invading earth. The gift of Jesus as our king frees us from the responsibility of playing God. When we confess Jesus as the Lord of lords and the King of kings, we allow God to take his rightful place as the ruler of our lives. Only when we serve Jesus as king will we be able to live out line from the Lord’s prayer: “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
Frankincense symbolizes Jesus as our eternal high priest (Hebrews 9:11–14). Frankincense can be used as incense, which was used in the Old Testament for sacrificial rituals for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus is not only our Lord, he is also our Savior. He came to save us from our sins. Jesus was born to die, to provide the sacrificial offering to once and for all put an end to the powers of sin and death. When we receive Jesus, we experience the gift of complete forgiveness of sin. God’s Holy Spirit can now take residence within us. Because of Jesus’ blood, Jesus’ righteousness becomes ours—we are granted eternal life.
Myrrh represents Jesus our prophet. To be a prophet of God, one needs to receive the spirit’s anointing. Myrrh was used as an important ingredient for anointing oil (Exodus 30:22-30). Jesus Christ is our ultimate prophet because he is the only person who reveals God to us. He is the one who communicates to us what God is like because he is God. “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe” (Hebrews 1:1-2). Jesus is our prophet who shows us the way to God. When we follow Jesus, we take on the prophetic role by pointing others to him. We tell others that Jesus is indeed the Savior King.
Jesus gives us grace. He is our king because he brings order and purpose to our lives. He is our high priest because he has redeemed us from the shackles of sin and death, and gives us God’s goodness and eternal life. Jesus is our prophet because he teaches us who God is and how humanity should act. Jesus is our glorious king, priest, and prophet, whom we, like the magi, must worship, praise, and thank forever and ever.