Wonderful significance belongs to the three presents brought by the Wise Men to the Infant Christ, lying in the manger stall, at Bethlehem: Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.
Gold to Christ. That means all the affluence of the world surrendered to Him ….. Gold not merely paid the way for Joseph and Mary and the divine fugitive into Egypt, but it was typical of the fact that Christ’s way shall be paid nil around the world. The gold for Christ, the silver for Christ, the jewels for Christ. The bright, round, beautiful jewel of a world set like a solitaire on the bosom of Christ
These wise men also shook out from their sacks the myrrh. The cattle came aud they snuffed at it They did not eat it because it was bitter. The pungent gum resin of Abyssinia called myrrh brought to the feet of Christ – that means bitterness. Bitter betrayal, bitter persecution, bitter days of suffering, bitter nights of woe. Myrrh ; that is what they put into His cup when He was dying. Myrrh; that is what they put under His head in the wilderness. Myrrh; that is what they strewed His path with all the way from the cattle-pen in Bethlehem to the mausoleum at Joseph’s country-seat. Myrrh. Yea, says the psalmist, “All Thy garments smell of myrrh.” That is what the wise men wrapped in the swaddling clothes of the Babe. That is what the Marys twisted in the shroud of a crucified Christ. The myrrh. Oh, the height, the depth, the length, the breadth of a Saviour’s sorrow -Myrrh. Well might the wise men shake out the myrrh.
But also, from another sack, they shake out the frankincense. Clear up to the rafters of the barn the air is filled with the perfume, and the hostlers and the cameldrivers in the further part of the building inhale it, and it floats out in the air until passers-by wonder who in that rough place could have by accident dropped a box of alabaster. Frankincense; that is what they burned in the censer in the ancient temple. Frankincense; that means worship. Frankincense; that is to fill all the homes, and all the churches, and all the capitals, and all the nations, from cellar of stalactited cave clear up to the silvery rafters of the star-lit dome. Frankincense; that is what we shake out from our hearts to-day, so that the nostrils of Christ, once crimsoned with the hemorrhage of the cross, shall be flooded with the perfume of a world’s adoration. Frankincense — frankincense in song and sermon, and hand-shaking and decoration. Praise Him, mountains and hills, valleys and seas, and sky, and earth and heaven— cyclone with your trumpets, northern lights with your flaming ensign, morning with your castles of clouds, and evening with your billowing clouds of sunset!
Do yon know how they used to hold the censer in the olden time? Here is a metal pan, and the handle by which it was held. In the inside of this pan were put living coals ; on the top of them a perforated cover. In a square box the frankincense was brought to the temple. This frankincense was taken out and sprinkled over the living coals, and then the perforated cover was put on; and when they were all ready for worship, then the cover was lifted from this censer and from all the other censers, and the perfumed smoke arose until it hung amid all the folds and dropped amid all the altars, and then arose in great columns of praise outside or above the temple, rising clear upward to the throne of God. So we have two censers today of Christmas frankincense.
Here is the one censer of earthly frankincense. On that we put our thanks for the mercies of the past year, the mercies of all our past lives— individual mercies, family mercies, social mercies, national mercies; and our hearts, burning with gratitude, send aloft the incense of praise toward the throne of Christ. Bring on more incense, and higher and higher let the columns of praise ascend. Let them wreathe all the opillars, and hover amid all these arches, and then soar to the throne.
But here is the other censer, of heavenly thanksgiving and worship. Let them bring all their frankincense—the cherubim bring theirs and the seraphim theirs, and the one hundred and forty and four thousand theirs, and all the eternities theirs, and let them smoke with perfume on this heavenly censer until the cloud canopies the throne of God. Then I take these two censers—the censer of earthly frankincense and the censer of heavenly frankincense—and I swing them before the throne, and then I clash them together in one great Alleluia unto Him to whom the wise men of the East brought the gold aud the myrrh aud the frankincense, when “the star which they saw in the East went before them.”
—From Dr. Talmage’s Sermon on “The Christmas Jubilee.”