This Christmas season, we are reflecting on three gifts that wisemen brought to Jesus at the announcement of His miraculous birth; Gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:11). This week, we're looking at the symbolic meaning of the gift of frankincense for Jesus as our High Priest.
Now, you may be thinking... Why bring a baby frankincense? While it may seem like a strange gift, frankincense was actually used in ancient times to create fragrant incense. It was an early essential oil! Priests would burn frankincense as an offering to God during the Old Testament days of the Bible. The sweet-smelling smoke would rise up as if going to Heaven, symbolizing the prayers of God's people rising up to God’s throne. It’s a beautiful image that paints a prophetic picture of who Jesus would be.
JESUS OUR GREAT HIGH PRIEST
Like the priests who would offer sacrifices and offerings to God, Jesus is our great High Priest who intercedes for His people before God the Father. This gift of frankincense foreshadowed Jesus' role. With Jesus as our High Priest, we can now approach the throne of God, holy and blameless. We are pure in God our Father’s sight instead of being stained by sin.
The truth is, in our culture today, people don't like the word sin. It sounds judgmental. However, the word of God in 1 John 1:8 says "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." It's important for us to acknowledge the reality of sin, because sin is opposed to the holiness of God.
WHAT IT MEANS THAT GOD IS HOLY
So, as we seek to understand Jesus' role as our great High Priest this Christmas, it's also important to understand that God is holy. The word 'holy' comes from a Greek word, hagios, which means sacred or separate; pure, blameless and perfect. God is holy - morally flawless in every single way. He is perfect. Holiness isn't just one of his attributes, but rather, holiness is the perfection of all his attributes. So, God is not like us in this way - His holiness sets Him apart from humankind. Even when Jesus was born as a human baby, because He was fully man and fully God, He was holy, perfect, and without sin.
HOLINESS, JUSTICE & MERCY
One important aspect of God's holiness is justice. Since God is perfectly just, He has to punish sin. The good news is, God isn't only a just God, but He is also a merciful God. In His great mercy, God appointed Jesus as our High Priest to pay the price for the forgiveness of our sins. Hebrews 10:10-12 shows us that on the Cross, Jesus satisfied the justice of God and gave mercy to God's Creation, which includes you. He loves you that much!
This holiday season, you may feel unworthy, weak or far from God. You may feel stressed and tired. We pray that by better understanding exactly what Jesus did for you, you'll be drawn to worship Him with hope. So, we encourage you to boldly approach the throne of God knowing that you can because of Jesus, our great High Priest.
To continue learning this Christmas season, we encourage you to check out the below additional content from Liquid Church:
- ARTICLE: When Jesus was born, people had one of three reactions to the King of Christmas. Which will you have today? Click here to read the article on The Liquid Blog.
- MESSAGE: This Christmas, is God calling you to forgive what you can't forget? God invites His children to forgive those who’ve hurt us and live in freedom. Click here to watch online.
- MESSAGE: Vision Sunday - As we kickoff the Christmas season, hear our vision for where we see God calling our church in 2022. Click here to watch online.