JESUS, OUR KING, PRIEST AND SAVIOUR
And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:11 NKJV).
It’s that time of the year where the sounds and sights attest to Christmas – a time of celebration, reunion and reflection. Christmas means many things to different people; but to us Christians, it is the celebration of the birth of Jesus.
Undoubtedly, the birth of Jesus is also the closure of a chapter in history and the beginning of a new one. It markedly divides the designation of time for humanity irrespective of our faiths and beliefs. History is usually wrapped in one of two dates – BC and AD. All historical events that took place before the birth of Jesus is designated as BC (Before Christ); and those that happened and continues to unfold are designated by AD (is a Latin phrase: anno domini ; which means “in the year of the Lord”—the year Jesus was born).
The significance of the birth of Jesus does not only bring the difference in date designation, but the uniqueness of Jesus' identity. From the above passage, Matthew describes the wise men coming from the east to pay homage to baby Jesus, because they saw his star and followed it to Bethlehem. The epic of their visit is seen in the gifts they presented to Jesus. Matthew describes the scene as follows; And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:11b).
The question then is; Why gold, frankincense and myrrh? The following explanations throw light on the significance of each of these gifts; as they recapitulate the destiny and mission of Jesus.
Gold is a precious metal and a valuable commodity. It is also a symbol of divinity and royalty. The gift of gold to Jesus symbolizes his divinity and Kingship; that, Jesus though is King, he is God in flesh. John writes; In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:1-2 &14).
As the eternal King, Jesus’ kingdom and rule will never end. Therefore, entrusting our lives to Him guarantee our eternal union and dwelling with Him in heaven. It is for this reason He assured His disciples and all believers by saying; “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also (John 14:1-3).
[Frankincense is] an aromatic gum resin from various Asian and African trees of the genus Boswellia, especially B. carteri, used chiefly for burning as incense in religious or ceremonial practices, in perfumery, and in pharmaceutical and fumigating preparations.[i]
It is a symbol of holiness and righteousness. For the wise men to offer frankincense to Jesus signify His priesthood and sacrificial nature of His mission to this world. He is the One who will wholly give Himself up as a fragrant burnt offering to God. Speaking of Jesus’ eternal priesthood, the writer of Hebrews said; 23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens (Hebrews 7:23-26).
As our Priest, Jesus is also our Mediator – acting on our behalf before God. This qualifies Him as the perfect priest who always intercedes for us. The Bible says; 14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).
[Myrrh is] a fragrant gum resin obtained from certain trees and used, especially in the Near East, in perfumery, medicines, and incense.[ii] It was a spice used in embalming. Myrrh symbolizes suffering, bitterness and affliction. Presenting this gift to Jesus meant He will suffer on the cross through His death. This will be the price He will pay with His life; to atone for the sin of mankind, and salvation for all those who will believe in Him.
John said; For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). As recorded by Luke in the book of Acts, Peter said; Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The Apostle Paul echoes these words when he wrote the following to the Romans; You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:6-8).
Saints, we all know that, the cardinal reason for celebrating Christmas is to remind ourselves of the birth of Jesus. Today, we see Him in the manger as a baby; yet, He is God’s perfect gift to mankind. The wise men, through their gifts have revealed this baby as the eternal King whose kingdom and rule has no boundary or end. His ministry to us is to be our high Priest who will always intercede in our behalf; and carry us through in all our weaknesses, disappointments and pain. He is also our Saviour who have saved us through His shed blood.
May we continue to be committed and loyal to Him ,as we serve Him in our churches and communities. Let's lift Him higher in our thoughts, words and deeds; not only during this Christmas season, but as long as we have breadth and strength to do so. During this season, let’s open our hearts and homes to help the less fortunate among us. Let's also see it as a duty to pray for the unbelievers in our communities and in our world; that they too will know Jesus as their King, Priest and Saviour. May John Newton’s hymn “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds” inspires us to love Jesus with all our hearts, minds, souls and bodies; and be faithful to our calling.
How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.
It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
’Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary, rest.
Dear Name, the Rock on which I build,
My Shield and Hiding Place,
My never failing treasury, filled
With boundless stores of grace!
Jesus! my Shepherd, Brother, Friend,
My Prophet, Priest and King,
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
Accept the praise I bring.
Weak is the effort of my heart,
And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see Thee as Thou art,
I’ll praise Thee as I ought.
Till then I would Thy love proclaim
With every fleeting breath,
And may the music of Thy Name
Refresh my soul in death!
[i] Dictionary.com. Accessed on the internet on November 30th 2015 @ 6:58am
[ii] Google.ca. Accessed on the internet on November 30th 2015 @ 7:59am.
iii Mantey, Charles. 2015 December 1st Newsletter
Rev. Dr. & Rev. (Mrs.) Charles & Faustina Mantey
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