Every Christmas pageant in the world has the three kings of “orient are…” They are bearing gifts that they’ve brought from afar! (Or something like that!). We actually don’t know how many wise men there actually were. But we do 09 ZEKE 1know there were three gifts. Luke 2:11 says, “Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” My grandson, Zeke, played one of the wise men in the school play one year. He didn’t know which one. I asked him, “Are you Balthazar?” He said no. I asked if he was “Melchior?” He said no. I asked him if he was “Casper.” He said no. Those are the traditional names of the three wise men. Zeke didn’t know which one he was playing, but he sure did make a cute looking little wise man don’t you think. We called him the “wise guy.” He didn’t appreciate that.

There were many contrasts involved in the Christmas story; Nazareth, the nothing spot and Bethlehem, the city of the great King, Shepherds from the nearby hillsides and Kings from very far away. They came bearing gifts. Everyone knows what the three gifts were. One child said they were “Gold, frankincense and smurfs.” The Gold was expressing great value. From that day to ours it has increased incredibly in value and still represents one of the most solid economic investments of the day. They key to understanding this gift is its value and beauty. Nothing was more pleasing to the eye. Frankincense was about the nose. The Hebrew word for frankincense is(usually translated INCENSE by NIV. It derives from a root meaning “white.” When the gum first exudes from the bark, it is of an amber color; later when removed from the tree, the resin produces a white dust on its surface. The gum, when warmed and burned, produces a sweet, pleasant odor. Its primary value is its fragrance. The same is true for Myrrh. But the key to Myrrh was not its odor. In addition to being offered to Jesus shortly after His birth, myrrh was also offered to Him at the time of His death (Mk 15:23). Historically, myrrh was utilized cosmetic purposes but also for medicinal purposes.

The words “myrrh and balm” are sometimes synonymous. It’s the healing characteristic that’s most unique. I love the old hymn that we really don’t hear very much but would make a great Christmas song. There is a “balm” in Gilead to make the wounded whole. There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.” Wise men and those with sin-sick souls still seek him. The real gift is not what the wise men brought, but what the baby offers us all. Merry Christmas!