My dear friend and fellow Army Veteran, Ann Marie, continues with the third of three words common to Christmas, Myrrh, for this edition of Word Nerd Wednesday.
Myrrh (Hebrew; lot, n.): resinous, fragrant, slightly bitter to the taste; mastic bark (a resinous gum of the rockrose plant).
Myrrh (Greek; smyrna, n.): an aromatic resinous gum.
Holman Bible Dictionary defines myrrh as “An aromatic resin having many uses in the Ancient Near East. It was traded along with spices, used as an ingredient in anointing oil, applied as perfume (Esther 2:12), placed in clothes to deodorize them (Psalm 45:8), given as a gift (Matthew 2:11), and used to embalm bodies (John 19:39).”
The word myrrh appears 18 times in the Bible. Similar to frankincense, myrrh was extracted from the bark of specific trees. The Commiphora trees throughout Arabia, Abyssinia, and India were known to produce myrrh during biblical times. As seen early in scripture, myrrh has been associated with the resin of the “rock-rose” (cistus) tree prevalent in Palestine (Gen 37:25).
Myrrh in the Bible
“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, frankincense and myrrh.”
Frankincense and myrrh were often identified together throughout scripture. Both were luxurious commodities of the day, valued for their rarity and beauty; both were noted for their use among sacred places and in communication with God. Both were also critical in the sacred preparation of the Tabernacle as seen in Exodus 30, however they served different functions. “Then the Lord said to Moses, 23 “Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant calamus, 24 500 shekels of cassia…and a hin of olive oil. 25 Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil. 26 Then use it to anoint the tent of meeting… whatever touches them will be holy.30 “Anoint Aaron and his sons and consecrate them so they may serve me as priests. 31 Say to the Israelites, ‘This is to be my sacred anointing oil for the generations to come… ” (Ex 30:22-33).
God specifically used myrrh as the key ingredient in the anointing oil of those He chose to serve Him as priests! In recognizing the value and importance of myrrh as an ancient commodity, the wise men saw it fit to be drawn from their treasures and presented to the young Jesus. Once again, their gift reflected the reason, the receiver, and the significance of its selection.God specifically used myrrh as the key ingredient in the anointing oil of those He chose to serve Him as priests! #myrrh #wordnerdwednesday Click To Tweet
1. They knew the reason for the gift.
The wise men knew that the promised Messiah was to be born of a virgin, a human, and into the flesh. “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel (Is 7:14). As a fine oil and perfume for only the best, myrrh would have been an appropriate gift to the human Jesus. However, a far greater understanding of God’s purpose for sending His Son from heaven to earth would seem an even more relevant reason for this gift.
2. They knew the receiver of the gift.
Jesus became man! Again we look at how theologian, Origen (185-254 AD) described the three gifts of the wise men: “Gold, as to a king; Myrrh, as to one who is mortal; and Incense, as to a God.” There was no mistaking that the wise men understood the historic and magnificent circumstance that they were to be witness to. “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Yet, in His divine, sinless nature, and human form Jesus became sin for us (2 Cor 5:21). Each day of His life and ministry on earth was outlined in God’s perfect plan to fulfill His purpose.
3. They knew the significance of the gift.
Jesus was born to die! The significance of the birth of Jesus Christ and the gift of myrrh can only truly be grasped in relation to the significance of His purpose on earth. God “loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation”—the wrath-absorbing substitute—“for our sins” (1 John 4:10). As Jesus was brought to Golgotha to be crucified “they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it” (Mark 15:23). As myrrh was used as sacred burial oil, it was prophetic for the wise men to conclude their offering with the gift of fine myrrh. When Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus removed Jesus’ body, they prepared it “in accordance with Jewish burial customs” (John 19:40) “Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs” (John 19:39). How significant that a gift presented to the newborn Jesus, would be one used in His sacrificial death?The gift of myrrh can only truly be grasped in relation to the significance of His purpose on earth. #myrrh #wordnerdwednesday Click To Tweet
Using Our Gifts for His Glory
As we wind down from the holiday season and look forward to the upcoming New Year, may the gift of JESUS fill our hearts and minds. May the lessons of the gifts of the Magi help us embrace the significance of God’s true gift of His Son JESUS who paid the highest price to give each of us the most valuable, luxurious, and priceless gifts ever imaginable…Himself, the freedom from sin, and our eternal salvation.
Finally, may we recognize how we, like Jesus have been given fine gifts that are not to be taken lightly. May this New Year present us with a greater willingness and opportunity for sharing the gifts God has given us for the unique purpose He has created!
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
1 Peter 4:10-11
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Linking Up With
For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne Eller, Faith On Fire, Susan B. Mead, Faith Filled Friday, Grace and Truth, Faith and Fellowship Friday, Soul Survival, Rah Rah Link Up, Tell His Story, Sitting Among Friends, Testimony Tuesday, Planting Roots, and Fresh Market Friday, Salt and Light.