Summary: The third of three sermons looking at how God used the gifts of the wise men to tell about Jesus and His life.
What do we know about the wise men? (little to nothing, just that they were from the east-Matt. 2:1)
What was the first gift? (gold)
What did the gold represent? (purity, marriage and kingship)
What came next? (frankincense)
What did frankincense represent? (Jesus as healer and priest)
What was the last gift? (myrrh)
-again, if you haven’t seen it, the Nativity Story movie depicts the scene where the wise men give their gifts to Jesus, and they say, “Gold, for the King of Kings, frankincense for the Priest of Priests, and myrrh, for the sacrifice He will make.”
-gold birth, frankincense life, myrrh was given by the wise men to symbolize Jesus’ death.
-so how does myrrh represent Jesus’ sacrifice?
1. BITTERNESS AND PAIN
-you have to start with where the word myrrh comes from. It has it’s roots in the Hebrew word Mara, which means bitter.
-now, if you’ve been in our service the last few months you’ve heard that word before. Mara. But where?
-it’s in the story of Ruth. Naomi has lost her husband and two sons, then returns home and she tells her friends this:
**Ruth 1:20 -> 20“Don’t call me Naomi,” she answered; “call me Marah, because Almighty God has made my life bitter.” (GNT)
-in Hebrew societies, someone’s name often reflected who they were, so Naomi, bitter at what God had done, asked to change her name to “bitter” or Mara.
-it didn’t just apply to people’s names either. Whenever something happened at a place, they might rename the place to represent what happened there, such as when Jacob had a dream from God, he renamed the place Bethel, which means ‘House of God.”
-the Israelites found this out first hand while wandering in the desert.
**Ex. 15:22-23 -> 22Moses led the Israelites away from the Red Sea into the Desert of Shur. They traveled for three days in the desert but found no water. 23Then they came to Marah, where there was water, but they could not drink it because it was too bitter. (That is why the place was named Marah.) (NCV)
-hmm, you come to a pool of water named “Bitter”, what do you expect?
-that was the meaning of myrrh, everyone knew it.
-it’s funny, because even the tree myrrh comes from looks like it’s in pain. [SHOW TREES]
-is that not one of the ugliest trees ever? And that’s how it looks alive! Makes you want to put one in your garden, doesn’t it…
-that is an ugly, ugly tree. It looks like it’s in pain.
-and the myrrh is taken out of it painfully. Myrrh is made from the sap of that tree. No wonder it’s so bitter. It’s no maple syrup.
-but that’s myrrh. It is from pain. It’s funny how too one of it’s many uses was to cure pain. To stop suffering.
-back to Jesus. His life ended in pain, and just like at the beginning of His life, at the end myrrh was present.
**Mark 15:22-24a -> 22The soldiers brought Jesus to Golgotha, meaning “Skull Hill.” 23They offered Him a mild painkiller (wine mixed with myrrh), but He wouldn’t take it. 24And they nailed Him to the cross. (MSG)
-it was a painkiller. It was given to people during crucifixion so they’d be able to hold out longer, make the pain a little more bearable.
-Jesus said no! Why? Because He had to stay focused on His task. He had to stay true to who He was.
-this was His last temptation. Myrrh. The offering of allowing some pain to go away in the midst of the most brutal torture on earth. And He still didn’t falter.
-I know, this is really shaping up to be a Merry Christmas message, but work with me here.
-myrrh was a vital part of death and burial thousands of years ago. Everybody, from the Jews to the Egyptians, used myrrh in embalming and preserving the body.
**John 19:38-40 -> 38Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus’ body. When Pilate gave permission, Joseph came and took the body away. 39With him came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night. He brought seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes. 40Following Jewish burial custom, they wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth. (NLT)
-the end of Jesus life was His body being encased in myrrh.
-I don’t think it’s coincidence that Jesus’ life ended with a gift at the beginning. Nor do I think it’s coincidence that myrrh was one of the main ingredients in the anointing oil made by the priests to anoint the holy pieces in the Holy of Holies like the Ark of the Covenant (we talked about that two weeks ago). It’s in Ex. 30. They used this oil to make things holy.