“They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” – Matthew 2:11 NLT
The wise men (or Magi) were of great eminence in the Parthian Empire at that time and it is unlikely that the caravan from the East consisted of only three men. Popular culture has embraced this notion on account of the three gifts being offered. It is much more likely, however, that they had a large entourage searching for the future King of Israel. Small wonder that “all Jerusalem” was “troubled,” along with King Herod (Matthew 2:3)! The Parthians (i.e. Persians) had never been conquered by the Romans and at that time were posing a significant threat along the eastern boundary of the extended Roman Empire.
When they found the young child and His mother in Bethlehem, the Magi “fell down, and worshipped him” (Matthew 2:11). This is the first time in the New Testament the word worship is used.
But why did they offer him just three gifts? And why these particular three gifts? I think that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, these God fearing sages meditated deeply on the ancient prophecies of Balaam, Daniel and David. Balaam, in Numbers 24:17, predicted a future Ruling King: “a star will rise out of Jacob, a scepter will rise out of Israel.” Daniel 9:24-26 predicted the Messianic Sacrifice who would “make reconciliation for iniquity” and David in Psalm 110:4 predicted the coming High Priest in the order of Melchizedek who would make “intercession for them.”
The three gifts then reflected the fulfilled three-fold role of the coming Messiah born in Bethlehem. The gold would acknowledge His right to reign as King, the frankincense would speak of the incense offered in the tabernacle symbolizing His role as High Priest and the myrrh would testify that His crucified body would be the sacrifice that would “take away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
I suggest that you consider reading this teaching to your family sometime in the next few days as we approach Christmas. Linda and I are so grateful for all of you and your continued support of our ministry.