Sunday, January 6, 2008

What's the Gold, Frankincense, Myrrh all about?

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 in the east and have come to worship him."
...and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11

Three gifts are mentioned, so we have come to believe there were three wise men. Various translations give them to be magi, kings, sages, wise men, astrologers. At some point their names were given as Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. The scripture says they came from"the east"; the song says "of orient."

So, does it matter if there were three, if we know their names or not, if they were kings, or where they came from specifically?

The main thing is that they came from afar--very likely from various distant places. This was a trip that was no minor undertaking. They represent all of us from all over the world. The birth of the Christchild was no longer a local event. They brought gifts--gold, the appropriate gift for a king; incense, used in the worship of deity; and myrrh, used in preparing the body after death for the grave. They acknowledged for us His kingship, his Godhood, and his coming death for us.

1 comment:

Paulie said...

Very succinct post and beautiful photo of yours.