Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Frankincense and Myrrh

What was the significance of this duo of gifts brought to Jesus by men from the East? One writer suggests both practical and symbolic meanings.
Practical use: Aside from its considerable monetary value, frankincense was used as a sweet-smelling incense and perfume.
Symbolic meaning: Frankincense comes from a sweet tree resin and was used in priesthood ordinances, in burnt offerings (see Leviticus 2:1), and in oil for anointing priests. Thus, frankincense can represent the Lord’s priesthood and His role as the Lamb of God to be sacrificed on our behalf (see John 1:29).
Practical use: Myrrh, a bitter oil from a tree resin, was economically valuable but was probably more beneficial to Mary and Joseph for its medicinal uses.

Symbolic meaning: In the New Testament, myrrh is usually associated with embalmment and burial because of its preservative qualities (see John 19:39–40). Myrrh’s medicinal uses can symbolize Christ’s role as the Master Healer. The oil’s use in burials can symbolize “the bitter cup” He would drink when He suffered for our sins (see Doctrine and Covenants 19:18–19).[1]
[1] Rebekah Atkin, “Thoughtful Gifts,” New Era, December 2011, accessed March 14, 2014, http://www.lds.org/new-era/2011/12/thoughtful-gifts.

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