Day of Epiphany
Because of my adorable Puerto Rican mother, I grew up celebrating this wonderful day called Día de los Reyes (Three Kings’ Day). This day is also known as the day of Epiphany to some. We didn’t go all out in our household like some do. In some countries, this is the culmination of the Christmas season and much bigger than Christmas. In our household, we simply enjoyed the fun of remembering that Jesus was given gifts by men who traveled from afar, trusting God to lead them by a star.
The night before Día de los Reyes, we would fill a shoe box with food and water for the wise men’s camels so they could rest and be fed along their journey to see baby Jesus. Let me tell you, the camels are messy eaters…they always leave a mess behind! But as a thank you for taking care of their animals, the wise men would leave a gift that we would find in the morning. This is how I grew up celebrating Día de los Reyes and so we’ve carried on this tradition in our household as well.
A New Connection to the Story of the Wise Men
However, I made a special connection that I have never made before. Let’s call it the “Epiphany from Día de los Reyes.”
We all know about the three gifts Jesus was gifted by the wise men:
Many consider these gifts to be the typical gifts gifted to kings, so in gifting this specific combination, the wise men were showing their belief that this child was indeed a king.
My epiphany revolves around the third gift–myrrh. This is not the only time myrrh is offered to Jesus. This just happens to be the only time the gift is accepted. (I am not counting when the women embalmed his body with myrrh.)
Many say the wise men’s gifts were symbolic and that myrrh represented Jesus’ mortality. If that is the case, then his refusal of the gift is even more interesting. Now, what I am about to say are totally my thoughts. Study for yourself, but this leaped off the pages of the Bible the other day and I can’t help but share them.
So what is myrrh?
- Myrrh is an herb.
- Resin/gum from the stems is used to create oils and medicines.
- It has a bitter taste.
- Its medicinal purposes date back to the sixteenth century BC and is found in the oldest known medical document, Ebers Papyrus, which recorded 877 ancient Egyptian prescriptions and recipes.
- According to the third edition of the Essential Oils Desk Reference the medicinal properties are:
- powerful antioxidant
Did you catch that last one? It is also an anesthetic.
He Refused the Gift
Now with that in mind, let’s read Mark 15:23-24:
Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.
He REFUSED to take the anesthetic! He chose to be fully aware and conscious of all that was happening to him. Would any of us think any less of him for taking the anesthetic? No! We would say it’s the most loving and humane thing one could do for someone hanging from a cross. Yet, he did not take it!
This just makes me take a step back in awe while my eyes fill with tears and my heart realizes what he really did for us. HE truly took it ALL! He not only took our sins but he took all the pain willingly!
So when the author of Hebrews says in Hebrews 4:15-16:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need.
Refusing the Gift to Give Us a Better One
He refused a gift so we could have a better one–a Savior who truly understands all our pain and wants to help us in our time of need. In dying this way, he even builds courage in us and those who are willingly taking a stand to the point of losing their life for him. Christ did it…so can we!
In refusing, he also fulfilled a prophecy stated in Psalm 69:21:
They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.
Again, it’s a reminder that Jesus is our living example and a perfect offering. He did not sin and found a way to fulfill everything that was foretold about himself. In this, he encourages us to follow God’s word too.
A Prayer over Our Hearts
Oh Lord, what can we even say? You love us so much that you were willing to do all this just to reconcile us to you and to let us know how much we are truly loved! Your love is an overwhelming blessing. We pray we will allow our hearts to overflow with your love and share this immense joy with others. In the One who refused to be numb to the pain of this world – Amen.