After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, in the time of King Herod, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem saying, "Where is the one who is born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him." When they saw the star they shouted joyfully. As they came into the house and saw the child with Mary his mother, they bowed down and worshiped him. They opened their treasure boxes and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:1,2,10,11 NET)
The vast majority of us have heard the story of the three wise men and seen a crèche or nativity scene with them at the birth of Jesus. Actually, we do not know if there were only three wise men but that has been inferred from the three gifts. Furthermore, it was not at the time of Jesus' birth but rather sometime later (likely two years), that the wise men came to the house (i.e., not the stable) where Mary, Joseph, and Jesus then lived (Matthew 2:11, Luke 2:6,7). Unfortunately, the wise men had mentioned the reason for their coming to King Herod which was to find the promised Messiah based on the appearance of His star in the night sky approximately two years earlier. Satan, hearing of the birth of the one that was promised in the Garden to break his rule over planet Earth (Genesis 3:15), manipulated King Herod to order the murder of all babies born in Bethlehem two years old and younger based on the timing of the wise men (Matthew 2:16). However, an angel warned Joseph and the young family escaped to Egypt. Later they returned, and Jesus was raised (1) as a human male child in Nazareth with Satan apparently thinking he had killed the baby that was to destroy him.
Let's look together into these three gifts that were brought by the wise men and what others and I believe they represented (2). Furthermore, I am going to connect these gifts to the Eucharist, communion, or Lord's Supper to help us remember, as often as we eat of the BREAD that represents Jesus' body that was bruised for our healing and drink of the CUP that represents the New Covenant sealed in Jesus' BLOOD that was poured out for our remission and forgiveness of sin. That is, we must remember the reason for our Lord's birth was His death and what that subsequently provided, is providing, and will provide for us!
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread, and after he had given thanks he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, he also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, every time you drink it, in remembrance of me." For every time you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26 NET)
I. Myrrh (used for perfume) - Remember what Jesus has done for us in the past as the Lamb of God.
Remember, Jesus was arrested (1), falsely accused in an improper trial during the night, whipped and beaten until His body was NOT full of bruises and wounds but rather ONE massive bruise and wound from the crown of His head to the soles of His feet. Pilate then granted permission for Jesus to be crucified at 6:00 AM on the 14th of Nisan (John 19:14-16 – the sixth hour of Roman time is used since it is from the perspective of the Roman Governor Pilate which would be the same as the twelfth hour of the fourth watch of the night in Hebrew time).
Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, "Behold your King!" (John 19:14 ESV)
He was subsequently crucified by being nailed to a wooden cross at 9:00 AM. (Mark 15:25 – the third hour of Hebrew time). These nails represented our sin - it was our sin that affixed Jesus to the cross! These nails would leave indelible scars that in a manner of speaking recorded our names on the palms of His hands (Isaiah 49:16. John 20:25-27). Simultaneously, at 9:00 AM on the 14th day of Nisan, the first month of the Hebrew year (our March/April) (Numbers 28:16) in the temple, a Passover lamb was led up the steps to the altar and tied there.
The King - Jesus - nailed to a wooden cross looked down upon those that had crucified Him. Realize, when Jesus slumped down the weight of His body would be placed on the nails in His hands (i.e., wrist area) causing excruciating pain to radiate throughout the nerves of his arms. When He would push up to exhale it would temporarily relieve the pain in His arms but cause a similar fiery torment in His legs from the nail affixing His feet. Over time His arms would become exhausted, and their muscles would start to cramp preventing Him from lifting Himself to exhale. However, then carbon dioxide would build up in His bloodstream causing the muscle cramps to partially subside. He could then lift Himself up to exhale until the muscle cramps returned paralyzing His arms, again. This cycle repeated itself for the six hours Jesus hung on the cross. Realize, Jesus has had no sleep for about 24 hours before this time, no liquids or food, ruthlessly interrogated, and severely beaten with His flesh shredded from the crown of His head to the soles of His feet revealing His bones before being crucified. (Psalms 22:17) Then pushing up to exhale and talk, Jesus says the first of seven statements from the cross. In three simple words, Jesus released the most powerful weapon in the arsenal of God, forgiveness: Father forgive them,.. (Luke 23:34). Next, Jesus tells the believing thief that “today” they would both be in Paradise together (Luke 23:43).
At 12:00 PM darkness covers the land until 3:00 PM (Matthew 27:45,46. Mark 15:33. Luke 23:44 – sixth to ninth hour of Hebrew time). Satan unleashes the fullness of his evil, the fullness of sin and its consequences upon Jesus. Jesus, who has never sinned, takes the full punishment for our sin (Isaiah 53:6). He who never had before experienced sin becomes one with our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21) and in a manner of speaking - the lamb becomes a serpent so that all who will look to His bearing away our sin will be saved (John 1:29. Numbers 21:9. John 3:14,15. 1 Peter 2:24. Hebrews 9:26-28). No wonder Jesus asked God His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane three times if there was some other way than entering into the covenant of death and becoming sin (Matthew 26:39,42,44). No, this was not the action of an insane person - merely the act of someone that was consumed by love for the race of man that He had created (John 3:16. Romans 5:8).
A little before 3:00 PM, on the cross Jesus cries out with a loud voice – My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46. Mark 15:34). Jesus is actually quoting Psalms 22, but Satan does not realize this at that time 1 Corinthians 2:8. At 3:00 PM (the ninth hour of Hebrew time) Jesus commits His Spirit to God, declares loudly “It is finished” (6) (John 19:30. Psalms 22:31) and breathes out His last breath (Matthew 27:50. Mark 15:37. Luke 23:46) thus laying down His life (John 15:13) by dying of a broken heart (Psalms 22:14). Recall, since He had never sinned He could not be killed; however, He could voluntarily lay down His life (John 10:17,18). Later the water mixed with blood from His side that was pierced would provide evidence that His heart had ruptured (John 19:34). Fitting that our Savior who loved the world would die of a broken heart for you and me! (Luke 19:41-44. John 3:16. Romans 5:8) Simultaneously, at 3:00 PM, in the temple the high priest sacrificed the Passover Lamb and declared to the people “it is finished.” Little did the high priest know how true those words were, even as Caiphas did not realize how true his words were concerning the death of Jesus (John 18:14;11:49,50).
The first Adam had rebelled (1) against a Holy God in the Garden of Eden, and now the full judgment for that sin has been paid by Jesus, the "second man" and "last Adam", at Calvary (1 Corinthians 15:45,47. Romans 8:3). Jesus stays in the heart of the Earth (1) for three days and three nights (Matthew 12:39,40), then returns in His human body early Sunday morning and first appears to Mary Magdalene. He asks her not to detain Him for He has not yet ascended to God His Father in Heaven - I must pause as these are some of my favorite words in scripture and thanks to Jesus' efforts can now be true once more for all that believe - and God OUR Father! (John 20:15-18).
When we partake of the bread, and the wine (or grape juice) (3) remember that Jesus in the PAST came to die for our sin to set us free from our slavery to Satan (Hebrews 2:14,15). He shed His blood (1) for the remission of all of our past sins and forgiveness (1) for all of our present and future sins. His body was bruised for our healing (1 Peter 2:24. Matthew 8:16,17. Isaiah 53:4). Although Jesus broke the bread to serve it to the apostles, His body was never broken (John 19:31-37. Psalms 34:20). Certainly, His body was bruised beyond recognition but not one bone of his body was broken even as the Passover lamb, which was a type of Jesus God's Lamb (John 1:29,36), was not to have any broken bones (Exodus 12:45-51. 1 Corinthians 5:7). Furthermore, this was true of all Old Testament sacrifices of Levitically clean animals which were required to be killed by the shedding of blood and not like unclean animals that were killed by the breaking of their bones (Exodus 13:13). Furthermore, Jesus is our one loaf (1 Corinthians 10:16,17), the genuine Bread of Life (Gr, zōḗ)(4) that came down from Heaven to give life (zōḗ) to the world! (John 6:32,33,35;6:48,51)
II. Frankincense (used for incense and perfume) - Remember what Jesus is doing for us in the present as our High Priest and Mediator.
For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received– that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 NET)
Jesus was raised from death by God the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1) to become our great, merciful, faithful, holy, innocent, undefiled High Priest of the good things to come and Mediator of the New Covenant. (Hebrews 2:17,18;4:14,15;7:26; 9:11,15;12:24)
Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help. (Hebrews 4:14-16 NET) So he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. (Hebrews 7:25 NET) Who is the one who will condemn? Christ is the one who died (and more than that, he was raised), who is at the right hand of God, and who also is interceding for us. (Romans 8:34 NET) (My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.) But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One, (1 John 2:1 NET) At that time you will ask in my name, and I do not say that I will ask the Father on your behalf. For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. (John 16:26-27 NET) At that time you will ask me nothing. I tell you the solemn truth, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive it, so that your joy may be complete. (John 16:23-24 NET) You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that remains, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. (John 15:16 NET) Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We have such a high priest, one who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the sanctuary and the true tabernacle that the Lord, not man, set up. (Hebrews 8:1-2 NET)
In parallel, Jesus as our great High Priest is seated at the right hand of God His Father, and our Father, and interceding for us to ensure His victory over Satan is realized in and through us His bride and soon to be His wife the church that was purchased by His blood (Ephesians 1:20. Colossians 3:1. Romans 16:20. Revelation 5:9).
"If you love me, you will obey my commandments. Then I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever– the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he resides with you and will be in you. (John 14:15-17 NET)
In addition, God the Holy Spirit is also interceding through us to God the Father!
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how we should pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings. (Romans 8:26 NET)
That is, God the Holy Spirit is helping us ask God the Father in God the Son our Lord Jesus' Name, who is interceding for us, for what we need, want, and desire! Now that is something to REMEMBER!
When we partake of the bread and the wine (or grape juice) (3) remember that Jesus is our eternally PRESENT High Priest and mediator that ever lives to intercede for us (1 Timothy 2:5,6). He has not simply saved us and then abandoned us to suffer through the rotten here and now until His return. If He was only the CEO of the universe we might expect that type of treatment; however, He God our Abba (i.e., Daddy) Father (Romans 8:15. Galatians 4:6. Romans 8:31-39. Matthew 10:29-31).
III. Gold - Remember what Jesus will do for us in the future as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Jesus King of Kings will return to and for us! The King is Coming!!!
Jesus will return for the first time to "take away(1)" the Church thus rescuing it from the Great Tribulation (1). During this return, Jesus will come with all of the Christians that have died, from Adam to the time of His coming, and will not set foot on Earth but rather descend only into the lower atmosphere. Realize, to those that are lost (i.e., have not accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord) this return will be "as a thief in the night" (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3). However, to those that are saved Jesus' first return will NOT be "as a thief in the night" (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6).
During this first return He will:
1. Resurrect and transform the decayed bodies of those that have already died into perfect glorified bodies. Then reunite these glorified bodies with the spirits of the saints that have come with Him from Heaven (saints referring to all that died from Adam to the time of His coming that have a personal relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son). (1 Corinthians 15:51,52. 1 Thessalonians 4:14-16)
2. Transform the bodies of the Christians that are alive on Earth at His appearing (those that are alive and have a personal relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son). (1 Corinthians 15:52. 1 Thessalonians 4:17)
3. Draw both of these groups that have now have glorified bodies to Himself and transport them (us) to Heaven. (Phillippians 3:20. 1 John 3:2) We Christians will then have to appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ where our works will be judged (2 Corinthians 5:10. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15). This is a judgment for what we have done (i.e., our works) for determination of any reward and NOT a judgment of whether we can be with the Lord forever (the latter has already been decided based on our belief or faith in Jesus' completed work on the cross) (Romans 10:9,10,13).
The second time Jesus will come down to the Earth in order to defeat the Antichrist, destroy evil, and establish His millennial or thousand-year kingdom on Earth (Jude 1:14,15. Revelation 19:11-16). This return is referred to as the Day of the Lord in scripture. Again, a day with the Lord is a thousand years(1) (2 Peter 3:8). That is, the DAY of the Lord encompasses the defeat of the Antichrist and evil and then the THOUSAND YEAR reign of Jesus on Earth! A time when we will reign with our King Jesus. During this 1000 years, Jesus will demonstrate to His wife (1) (i.e., the Christians) how Earth was intended to be operated before the fall of man. It is a time of learning at the feet of the Master. This time allows Christians that did not choose to mature in their earlier life on Earth to reach full maturity. However, the more mature Christians (Level V) (1) will start this age with higher levels of responsibility, authority, and service (Matthew 25:13-30). It is an age of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit! (Romans 14:17) After this time of peace, Satan will be released and to allow a final separation of the chaff from the wheat. Then Satan will be thrown into the Lake of Fire for eternity (i.e., forever) (Revelation 20:7-10). Our ever-expanding universe will then collapse into a nuclear fire destroying Earth, but we will be safe aboard the New Jerusalem (Luke 12:49. 2 Peter 3:7,12. Revelation 20:11). Then the Great White Throne Judgment will take place as all non-Christians from the beginning of man until the present will be resurrected and the trial will take place in New Jerusalem (recall Christians earlier went to the Judgment Seat of Christ (1) and will not go to the Great White Throne of Judgment). Their works will be reviewed, but the failure to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord will doom all that appear at the Great White Throne to the Lake of Fire forever (Revelation 20:11-15. Romans 2:6-16. Ecclesiastes 3:11). Remember, we can never be saved by our works but only by the completed work of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8,9. John 3:16-18). Then Jesus takes His wife with His right hand and says, behold I make all things new… at the speed of light, a new universe (1) expands into being without evil, pain, sorrow, or remorse (Revelation 21:1,5). And We live joyfully forever after… Amen (Revelation 22:17,20)
When we partake of the bread and the wine (or grape juice) remember that Jesus is the FUTURE returning King of Kings and Lord of Lords! (Revelation 17:14; 19:16) Remember, we have a glorious future that God has prepared for those that have repented and accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior (1 Corinthians 2:9) Maranatha! (1 Corinthians 16:22)
(1) Left click on the underlined phrase to open another article in a new tab with more explanation.
(2) We, three kings of Orient, are;
bearing gifts we traverse afar,
field and fountain, moor and mountain,
following yonder star.
O star of wonder, star of light,
star with royal beauty bright,
westward leading, still proceeding,
guide us to thy perfect light.
Born a King on Bethlehem's plain,
gold I bring to crown him again,
King forever, ceasing never,
over us all to reign. [Refrain]
Frankincense to offer have I;
incense owns a Deity nigh;
prayer and praising, voices raising,
worshiping God on high. [Refrain]
Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume
breathes a life of gathering gloom;
sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
sealed in the stone-cold tomb. [Refrain]
Glorious now behold him arise;
King and God and sacrifice:
sounds through the earth and skies. [Refrain]
United Methodist Hymnal, 1989
(3) In the late 19th century and a Methodist dentist named Thomas Bramwell Welch who apparently, had scruples about the use of wine and had heard of Louis Pasteur's process of pasteurization of milk. Welch was successful in applying the process to grape juice, and he began to use it in his church, where he was a Communion steward. His son, Dr. Charles Welch, was an enterprising Methodist layman (a dentist, like his father) from southern New Jersey. He marketed the pasteurized grape juice to temperance-minded evangelical Protestants as authentic "biblical wine." As word spread and as the temperance movement grew among evangelical Protestant churches, Welch left dentistry and produced Welch's Grape Juice commercially.https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/changing-wine-into-grape-juice...
(4) If we want to know what the New Testament means by “life,” we need to look at the word as it appears in the original Greek language. In the Greek language, three different words—bios, psuche, and zoe—are translated as “life” in English, and each has a different meaning. Here are some examples of where each is used: