Summary: Part 3 in series The Three Gifts. Scripture records that the third gift given to Jesus by the Magi was myrrh – a gift given to one who was to die. Why was Jesus given this gift at such a young age?
The Gift of Myrrh
The Three Gifts, prt. 3
Wildwind Community Church
December 13, 2008
Matthew 2:11 (NRSV)
11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Last week we talked about how frankincense is a gift for a priest, and we looked at the fact that Jesus is a priest, and that we in the church are all called to be priests (i.e., to live in a way that shows who God is). And I told you that tonight we’d cover the gift of myrrh, and how myrrh was a gift for one who was to die.
Now by the time the wise men found Jesus and presented their gifts to him, Jesus was probably about two years old. Interesting, isn’t it, that at that young age, Jesus was given a gift fitting for one who was to die. Imagine having a baby and someone showing up to see your baby for the first time and saying, “I brought a gift,” and they yell, “Wheel it in!” and it’s a casket. And they say, “I figure one day this little feller’s gonna need this. I hope you like it.”
Jesus lived his whole life in the shadow of the cross. When he was born, Joseph and Mary took him to the temple to dedicate him to God, as was the custom. There they run into the prophet Simeon, a very old man, who says some pretty amazing things about Jesus.
Luke 2:33-35 (NIV)
33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
This actually happened well before Jesus received myrrh from the Magi. He was only eight days old and there’s the prophet Simeon saying to Mary, “A sword will pierce your soul” predicting the death of Christ and the suffering of his mother.
Jesus lived under the shadow of the cross, and was born under that shadow. I want to read for you now a passage written by the prophet Isaiah, who lived 700 years before Jesus was born. This is a long passage, but it’s what we’re dealing with today and the more of God’s words I read to you the less room there is for my own words – and that ends up being an extraordinarily good deal for you. Isaiah wrote:
Is 53:2-12 (The Message)
2The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. 3He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. 4But the fact is, it was our pains he carried— our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. 5But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed. 6We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And GOD has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him. 7He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn’t say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence. 8Justice miscarried, and he was led off— and did anyone really know what was happening? He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people. 9They buried him with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man, Even though he’d never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn’t true. 10Still, it’s what GOD had in mind all along, to crush him with pain. The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin so that he’d see life come from it—life, life, and more life. And GOD’s plan will deeply prosper through him. 11Out of that terrible travail of soul, he’ll see that it’s worth it and be glad he did it. Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant, will make many “righteous ones,” as he himself carries the burden of their sins. 12Therefore I’ll reward him extravagantly— the best of everything, the highest honors— Because he looked death in the face and didn’t flinch, because he embraced the company of the lowest. He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many, he took up the cause of all the black sheep.