Matthew 2:11, 12
11 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. 12 Then being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.
Luke in his Gospel account of the birth of Christ says that in verse 7 And she brought forth her first son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Yet Matthew in verse 11 says, “When they (the wise men) had come into the house.” It would appear that some time had passed between the birth of Jesus and the visit of the wise men. And indeed it had for as was the custom, 40 days after the birth of a male child he was to be presented to the priest in Jerusalem. Luke 2:22 says, “Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses was completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord. 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”), 25 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord. A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
According to Levitical law when one had an issue of blood such as would happen after giving birth they would not be considered clean. After child birth this could take a full month and so after seven days past the last flow she would once again be considered pure. So on the fortieth day they went to Jerusalem to present Jesus before the Priest.
While at the Temple both Simeon and Anna bear witness to Jesus being the source of our salvation and our redeemer. Both Simeon and Anna worshiped the Newborn Redeemer of the world. So it was after this that these wise men came to Bethlehem, and when they had come into the house they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, they fell down and worshipped Him.
They, the wise men, being well versed in the customs of their day knew that upon visiting a King or anyone of important that proper respect must be paid. They fulfilled this respect by worshipping Jesus. But, they also brought gifts. Expensive gifts. Gifts that would indeed to fitting for a king. For when they had opened their treasures, they presented gift to Him; gold, Frankincense, and myrrh.
The nature of the sacrifice offered by Joseph and Mary in Jerusalem shows that they were people of ordinary means. Certainly not rich by any stretch of the imagination. To their surprise these men offer gifts to Jesus of Gold Frankincense and Myrrh.
Gold, the word of God is more precious than Gold. Gold the most precious of ancient metals is given to the most precious baby to ever be born. What more fitting gift for the King of the universe than the most precious of earthly treasures, gold.
Frankincense was a sweet smelling substances that was actually used in the censors that brought incense into the Most Holy Place and then burnt on the altar of incense. The smell lifting from the altar to the heaven was to represent the prayers as they were lifted to heaven. Now the gift of Frankincense was given to Christ. Christ who was to be a sweet smelling blessing upon all people.
Myrrh, which is also a sweet smelling substance, almost like a perfume. It was often used at the time of death to embalm the body and preserve the body. Would not this Christ someday die upon the Cross? Yes he did. So Myrrh was the symbol used to signify the death of Christ. The preserving power of Christ when he came, lived, died among men that we might one day live with him forever.
As I said in an earlier post, the Book of Matthew is about Christ the King and about Worshiping the King of this world. But the second chapter of Matthew is about God preserving His own. God provided the witnesses for His Son’s birth (shepherds, Simeon, Anna and now the wise men). As we noted earlier this was not a rich family. God knew what was coming before this little family and new if they were to survive in foreign land they would need money. So God provided and brought the wise men, gentiles to witness for God and to bring gifts for Jesus that His life would be spared. So that you and I can be spared. That the whole world can be spared.
Then in another move of preservation, 12 Then being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.
Though it may not always seem to be true, God preserves His own. He preserved his own Son and He will preserve you and me.