In infant schools and church services throughout the month of December, children dress in bath robes and towels to re-enact the Nativity.
Their story usually concludes as the Magi find baby Jesus and present to Him their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
What interesting gifts these were! Whilst some believe they were of a practical nature, it is more likely that they were given for symbolic reasons.
These three gifts given to Jesus, are not only foreshadows of His life to come, but were announcements of the gifts that our Saviour would present to us, through His mission and Atoning sacrifice.
Gold is the typical gift for kings, because it symbolizes kingship and royalty.
Gold also reminds us how Jesus Christ has provided a way that we might be exalted. All who follow Jesus Christ as His covenant disciples, and endure to the end, shall be given a “crown of righteousness.” These true followers of Christ are a “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” Indeed, because of Jesus Christ we might one day “inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths.” Gold reminds us of the sceptre of all gifts - exaltation - made available to us only through Jesus Christ, the King of kings.
Frankincense comes from a sweet tree resin and was used in priesthood ordinances, in burnt offerings, and in oil for anointing priests. Frankincense points to Jesus as the great High Priest, but it additionally reminds us that He is also the Lamb of God - the “great and last sacrifice...yea infinite and eternal.”
Frankincense reminds us of the Saviour’s gift of love - a love that was powerful enough for Jesus to lay down His life. “Greater love has no man than this….”
In the New Testament, myrrh is usually associated with embalming and burial because of its preservative qualities. Myrrh’s medicinal uses can symbolise Christ’s role as the Master Healer, and its use in burials can symbolise “the bitter cup” He would drink when He suffered for our sins.
Myrrh also helps us to remember that Jesus Christ “broke the bands of death.” Jesus gave us the gift of resurrection. He voluntarily died, and took up His life again, so that we might do likewise. The dry bones of the dead that Ezekiel saw, will one day come forth as living souls.
Given our Saviour’s selfless and kind nature, it should not be a surprise to us that these gifts presented to Jesus as an infant, have been consecrated for our good, presented back to us, and are symbolic reminders of some of the most precious gifts that the Saviour gives to mankind.
In Section 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants, we are counselled:
“For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.”
Perhaps, one of the greatest gifts that we can give to our Saviour this Christmas season is to remember, cherish and truly receive His gifts to us.
We might then seek to make these gifts known to others.
I testify that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the great Emmanuel, and the giver of all good gifts.