But none of this explains why Matthew 1:10 says the wise men went to a house. The reason Matthew said that the wise men went to a house is because Jesus was probably two years old when they finally got there. They weren’t in the stable anymore.
When your kids were born, did you get them gold, frankincense, and myrrh? No. You got a baby snot sucker, and not the blue one with the squeezer ball. You got the kind where you physically suck the snot out of the baby’s nose…Why is that a real thing? People suck snot out of their babies’ noses, but they didn’t have those when Jesus was born, so He got gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Mary and Joseph would have been thankful for these gifts, because they were very valuable & useful, and with these gifts, these wise men, these very educated men, were foreshadowing what Jesus would become.
With the myrrh they demonstrated that Jesus was the lamb of God. In their day, Myrrh was used to embalm dead bodies, and this foreshadowing pointed to Jesus’ death, His sacrifice. The gold foreshadowed the kingship of Jesus. They were proclaiming that Jesus is King! With the frankincense they announced Jesus as the great High Priest.
The priests in the Jewish sacrificial system had two primary responsibilities:
- The priest sacrificed animals to God for the forgiveness of sins.
- The priest prayed prayers on behalf of the people to God.
Under the Old Covenant, an animal was killed as a sacrifice to God so that God would forgive the sins of the people, because for all of history there have been two opposing forces: the holiness of God and the sinfulness of men.
We live in a world that doesn’t believe in sin. They believe that we can all pick our truth, and if they believe something is moral, it is. They say, “what’s true for you is true for you. If it makes you feel good, do it.” Ask yourself, “who says what is right and what is wrong?”
Someone said the concept of sin is an outdated way of tricking kids into being good. Have you heard of the Elf on the Shelf? It’s a little stuffed doll that you put on a shelf in your house, and according to the superstition, he’ll watch your kids and report their behavior to Santa. He’s a spy. Who needs “sin” when Santa’s “making a list, checking it twice?”
If we don’t understand the holiness of God, we will always have a casual approach to sin. God hates sin because it separates us from Him. God is perfect, and we are sinful. For that reason, we can’t be in relationship with God unless someone is punished. Everything about God is perfect, so we can’t be in His life, because we are not perfect. Holiness isn’t simply one of God’s attributes. It’s the perfection of all His attributes. Everything about Him and around Him is holy. The problem is, we’re not, unless He makes us holy.
In the Jewish sacrificial system, every year on Yom Kippur (the day of atonement), the high priest goes into the holiest place in the temple, burns frankincense to create smoke that represents a prayer of repentance from the people, and sacrifices a spotless lamb. The innocent lamb dies so that the guilty people can be forgiven, and that’s just weird. They kill cute little sheep for their own sins? It’s gross and unfair, but God wants us to know how terrible sin is.
God is perfectly just, and He wants us to know that sin has consequences. It may be us who suffers because of our dumb decisions, or it may be someone else. But sin always causes pain.
The good news is that God is not only just. He’s also merciful. The sacrificed animal temporarily satisfied God’s justice, and at the same time, it extended mercy.
Thank God things have changed. Our high priest doesn’t kill lambs anymore. We live under the new covenant, and the new covenant says Christ’s single death was enough.