Legend has it that the Three Wise Men, whose names were Gaspar, Melchior and Balthazar – known collectively as the Magi – came somewhere from the East to present the newly born Jesus with gifts.
Were they kings? Sorcerers? Astrologers? No one really knows and there could have been more than three.
‘They were told by King Herod to seek Jesus – the “king of the Jews” – who had just been born in Bethlehem. Seek him they did, by following a star – a special star representing the birth of a new king.
The star may have been a comet or another unusual phenomenon.
Once newborn Jesus was found, as a way of worshipping him, they presented him with the gifts.
As now, gold was precious and valuable and perhaps financed Jesus, Mary and Joseph’s upcoming journey to Egypt. Gold is also mentioned throughout the Bible as a divine symbol.
Frankincense, a symbol of holiness and righteousness, was a potent resin when burned while worshipping God and was perhaps offered as Jesus’ willingness to become a sacrifice later in his life.
Myrrh was similar but used more as a spice that could be mixed with wine to form a drink that symbolised bitterness, suffering and affliction.