Myrrh is a resin that is cut from the bark of the Commiphora myrrha tree. The resin can be harvested from natural splits in the bark or the tree can be cut to allow resin to escape through the wounds. These trees are found mostly in southwest Asia and east and northeast Africa near the Red Sea or Arabian Gulf. There are other species of this tree that produce myrrh resin but of a lower quality.
In addition to being used in incense or for ceremonial oils, myrrh has been used to treat various health issues such as stomach or intestines problems, congestion, and parasite infections. It works to decrease inflammation and kills bacteria. (Disclaimer: I am not advocating the use of myrrh in any way, simply restating what I have read on various websites. I’m not a doctor, do your own research before deciding to start using anything for medical or health reasons.)
Myrrh was also used for embalming and was associated with death and burial thus symbolizing Jesus’ humanity and the suffering He would endure on the cross. Like frankincense, myrrh was used in the Bible as a holy oil that God set apart solely for use in the temple. This holy anointing oil was used to sanctify the temple, everything in it, and the priests.
“Moreover the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Also take for yourself quality spices—five hundred shekels of liquid myrrh, … And you shall make from these a holy anointing oil, an ointment compounded according to the art of the perfumer. It shall be a holy anointing oil.”
Today, myrrh teaches us about living in a world of contradictions.
Myrrh was used for embalming and for healing wounds—mourning and healing can coincide.
It was used in the temple; it was used in the tomb—Jesus came to sanctify us as His holy people; He came to die for our sins and give us life when He stepped out of the grave.
Myrrh can only be harvested from a wounded tree—Jesus’ wounds brought us healing and life. Sometimes our most precious growth and renewal takes place in our broken places too.
Myrrh may be the most unappreciated of the three gifts because it pointed to the most painful moments to come in Jesus and Mary’s lives. It is a complex substance whose meaning is wrapped in layers of holiness and grief, healing and death. But it should give us hope for a future because God’s love shone bright when He presented Jesus to us…the most precious gift of all.
Like myrrh, Jesus brings us healing, sanctifies us, and provides comfort in death. Unlike myrrh, Jesus gives us life and covers us with His holiness so that we can join Him in eternity. This invitation is open to all.
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’”
We have access to God the Father through our faith and acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We are gifted with the presence of the Holy Spirit living within us to teach us how to live, how to love, how to grow in our relationship with God.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
I pray that God’s peace flows through you as we approach Christmas. That you find healing for your souls and that you rejoice in the great and precious promises of Christ.