Significance of the Magi’s Gifts

By Gil Rugh

The gifts that the magi presented to the Messiah were very significant. In addition to financing Joseph and Mary’s trip to Egypt, the gifts also had specific symbolism associated with them. The fact that Matthew specifically identified them as gold, frankincense and myrrh supports the idea of symbolism.

Gold in the Scriptures is associated with deity and royalty, so the emphasis of this gift is on the deity and royalty of Jesus Christ. (You can read about the significance of gold in the description of the tabernacle in Exodus 25. That passage reveals the place that gold has in the worship of God.)

Frankincense is associated with the service of Jehovah. It relates to the fragrance of the life of Christ as the One who serves His Father. Incense was used in the worship of Jehovah and symbolizes our service.

Myrrh is associated with sacrifice and death. It is one of the fragrances used in John 19:39 when they were preparing Jesus’ body for burial after His death.

The gifts given to this young child by the magi emphasize His deity, the faithfulness or fragrance of His life in serving Jehovah and the sacrifice of His life for our sins. The magi offered their gifts and their worship.

If Jesus Christ was not deity as well as humanity, this would have been an abominable thing. It would have been idolatry for these Gentiles from the east to bring their pagan ideas to Bethlehem and worship a mere human baby. The magi knew this child was not a mere human baby; they knew He was deity and worthy of worship.