Ever wonder why the wisemen brought the gifts they did to Jesus? Wouldn’t there have been more practical gifts to give a young couple celebrating the birth of a child? Your kids probably have some of the same questions. They may even wonder what in the world frankincense and myrrh are. I know I did until just recently!
In the Old Testament books like Psalms, God said the Messiah would be worshipped as a king – even by other kings (Psalm 72:10-11). How do we know those things happened to Jesus? One way was by the presents the wise men brought to him when he was a baby.
Gold, frankincense and myrrh were three of the most rare, most special gifts someone could give during the time Jesus was born. Gold is not only beautiful and expensive, but it never rusts. Frankincense is a rare resin made from the bark of special small trees found in Africa and the Middle East. It was used to make perfume and medicine. Myrrh was also a resin made from the bark of a different tree than that used for Frankincense. It too was from a small tree found in Africa and the Middle East.
Because they were so rare and special at the time, these gifts were mainly given to royalty – often from other royalty. By giving these gifts to Jesus, the wise men showed others they realized Jesus was the ultimate King written about in the Old Testament – the Messiah.
Ironically, there were probably also some practical benefits to those gifts after all. The gold would have been helpful as Joseph, Mary and Jesus relocated for a time to Egypt to escape King Herod’s wrath. Frankincense and myrrh would have been probably some of the most sought after medicines normally only accessible to the very wealthy – which of course, Mary and Joseph were not. The Bible doesn’t tell us for sure, but I would imagine Joseph and Mary were grateful for the extra help these gifts would provide.
The visit of the wise men bringing gifts was only one of the marvelous things Joseph and especially Mary would witness. (It is thought Joseph died long before Jesus began his ministry.) Their visit and gifts confirmed once again that Jesus was indeed the Messiah for whom the world had been waiting for thousands of years.
Helping your children understand the significance of those gifts can help them begin to understand that even in the time of Jesus, many recognized him for who he was – the Son of God. It is an important faith building block for your kids.
P.S. Want to begin to help your children understand how the Bible is a complete puzzle of God’s Plans for us? Many things in the Bible connect to other things in amazing ways. John 19:38-40 tells us Jesus was buried with myrrh. Some scholars speculate, he may also have been buried with frankincense. Whether or not there was frankincense involved in the burial of Jesus. once again Joseph of Arimathea made sure Jesus had a burial fit for the very wealthy or…you guessed it – a King!