The Three Gifts

By Pastor Teck Uy

One of the divine attributes of God is that he is all-knowing. In fact, God knows the end from the beginning. Before we do anything, God already knows what the outcome will be. God himself made this truth known when he said through the prophet Isaiah, “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please” (Isa. 46:10). Needless to say, this is very encouraging and comforting to those who are walking by faith. While they do not know what lies ahead, they can walk confidently, being assured that they will get what they are hoping for.

This foreknowledge of God was very evident at the time Jesus was born. When the Magi, who travelled all the way from the east, came to the Lord Jesus Christ, we are told that “they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh” (Matt 2:11). Certainly, the Magi did not pick these gifts at random just to be able to present something to the Lord. They were divinely guided in choosing the kinds of gifts they would give, taking into account the significance of each of gift in the life of the Lord Jesus. In accordance with the foreknowledge of God, each gift had a purpose.

What do these gifts signify? The three kinds of gifts signify the threefold anointing of the Lord Jesus Christ. The gold was for his kingly anointing, affirming that Jesus was a king. The Magi themselves declared this truth when they were looking for Jesus and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him” (Matt 2:2). In ancient times and even today, gold is a fitting gift for royalty, especially a king. But just as gold goes through fire to be refined, Jesus, as King, had to go through suffering. His ultimate suffering was dying on the cross and, through it, he conquered death. He was not only a king but is the King of kings and Lord of lords.

The second kind of gift is frankincense and this signifies his priestly anointing. Jesus is our Great High Priest who ever lives to make intercession for us. His priesthood is not in the order of Aaron but in the order of Melchizedek, without beginning of days or end of life. The Book of Hebrews beautifully portrays the priesthood of Jesus when it says, “For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17). Instead of offering frankincense, he offered himself as a sweet smelling aroma, a pleasing sacrifice to the Father.

The third kind of gift, myrrh, speaks of his death. Myrrh is used for embalming. Even from birth, God knew that Jesus would die the sacrificial death to pay the penalty of sin. This is the leper’s anointing of Jesus. When the Bible talks of leprosy, it refers to sin. The apostle Paul described this anointing of Jesus when he said, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). We deserved to die because of our sins but he stood in the gap and he died on our behalf. It was a gift exchange, his life for ours, but this was a lopsided exchange since he led a sinless life while ours is a life full of filthiness.

Recognizing these three types of anointing will help us live our lives in a manner pleasing before the Lord. As our King, we need to serve him faithfully and give our best to him. We need to heed the rebuke given by the Lord through the prophet Malachi. He said, “When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” (Mal. 1:8) As our Great High Priest, let us believe in him. Let him lead the way because “there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Prov. 14:12). Jesus is the only way to the Father and he alone can offer a sacrifice pleasing before God. Realizing that we have sinned and need a Saviour is the first step to our salvation. We need to repent and receive Jesus as Lord and Saviour. No matter how we try to save ourselves through our good work, we will fail, for we are saved by grace through the leper’s anointing of the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, let us align ourselves with the purposes of God and his purposes will stand. Just as he knew what would become of Jesus even at the point of birth, he also knows what will become of us. He said, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11). Hallelujah!