Tag Archive | burial

“We Three (gifts of the) Kings”

3Kings.moonMy favorite Christmas carol has always been We Three Kings, written by John H. Hopkins, but I know it’s not one of the most popular Christmas songs. I think everyone gets hung up on the “O-o-o, star of wonder” part, or maybe even the minor key in which it’s been written.

But the words! It’s the words that sell it for me.

The Bible does not say how many “kings” or “wise men”  or “Magi” came to worship Jesus. It only mentions the three gifts they brought; valuable tokens of their esteem, and very useful “cash” for Joseph & Mary to use as they fled with Jesus to Egypt to escape Herod’s murderous madness.

Herod, as you recall, was very jealous to hear that a new King had been born, and so inquired of the visitors when they first saw the star. Using that time frame he ordered all boys – age two and under – to be killed. Killed! Innocent babies, precious sons, destroyed!

But by this decree we can be pretty sure the visitors from the East did not make an appearance at the stable, but came to a house in Bethlehem, “where the Christ child lay.”  That’s where they presented the gifts, on bent knees. Gold. Frankincense. Myrrh.

And this is where THE WORDS to the carol, We Three Kings come in.  They explain what these3Kings.silohoet gifts represented; what they told of the life of Jesus, the Messiah.

  1. We three kings of Orient are; bearing GIFTS we traverse afar,  field and fountain, moor and mountain, following yonder star.

Refrain: O star of wonder, star of light, star with royal beauty bright, westward leading, still proceeding, guide us to thy perfect Light.

Okay, now let’s look at the GIFTS presented to the Christ child:

  1. Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain, GOLD I bring to crown him again, KING forever, ceasing never, over us all to reign.

GOLD to represent Jesus as King, the promised descendant of King David, one day to be hailed as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

  1. FRANKINCENSE to offer have I; incense owns a Deity nigh; prayer and praising, voices raising, worshiping GOD on high.

FRANKINCENSE was used in the worship of Almighty God, the Holy One of Israel. Not only is Jesus KING, He is also GOD

  1. MYRRH is mine; its bitter perfume breathes a life of gathering gloom;  sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying, sealed in the stone-cold tomb.

MYRRH was a very costly ointment used to mask the odor of a body when it is buried. When Mary Magdalene broke an alabaster jar of it and poured it over Jesus as an act of extreme love and devotion, Jesus said she had “anointed Him for burial.” Now look again at where verse four leaves Jesus: crucified and buried in a “stone-cold tomb.”

But hallelujah! Praise God!  See how verse five brings us to His resurrection!

  1. Glorious now behold him arise; KING and GOD and SACRIFICE, Alleluia, Alleluia, sounds through the earth and skies.

 We Three Kings is a carol of worship and praise. It’s why I love it. Jesus, my King, my God, my living Sacrifice for sin. The visitors traveled half way around the world to worship Jesus. Let US open our hearts and let our praises rise to the skies!



Oh, and don’t get hung up on the Star of Wonder – wondering perhaps (sorry for the pun) if it actually moved before the travelers, or if it was a juxtaposition of several stars that alerted them to the birth, or if it was maybe a comet, or a “shooting star.”

If it bothers you, just remember that Jesus is called the Morning Star in Revelation 22:16, the Day Star in 2 Peter 1:19, and the Light of the World in John 1:5-9 and 8:12. Could it have been Jesus who drew these “wise” men to Himself?  A thought.


Paid in Full

My reading today was from John 19:23-42.



“After the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they….”

   Wow, what a “ho-hum!”  Just another day’s work in the life of a Praetorian Roman soldier. 

“…They took His clothes and divided them among themselves, four ways, and gambled (cast lots) for his one-piece tunic.”

     Their eyes were down, intent on His things, greed in their hearts, lusting with their eyes, jovial in their competitiveness… all the while, the Son of God hung above them, bearing their sins and the wrath of God Almighty for their sake.   Unmindful were they of the pain and anguish and the drops of blood silently hitting the dust. It was His life in His blood shed for them, and they didn’t see or understand.

“But standing and watching with pain and sorrow in their hearts were His mother Mary, His aunt Salome, Mary the wife of Clopas, Mary Magdalene… and John, his beloved disciple. ”

Jesus gives the care of His mother (even on the cross, His obedience to the sixth commandment is seen) to John (the disciple who will live the longest; the disciple who will receive the Revelation).  And his disciple took responsibility for Mary for the rest of her life. (None of Jesus’ half-siblings believed him Him at this point.)

“Everything else done, Jesus requests liquid for his parched mouth. Sour wine (vinegar, to squeeze out the last bit of saliva from his glands) is given to Him. Then, with a clear loud voice and a last burst of strength, Jesus cries out, “IT IS FINISHED.”

The sin-debt for mankind is PAID IN FULL!  The reason for his birth as a man and the suffering He endured is fulfilled.  His mission is complete. He has glorified His Father (In three days, the Father will glorify the Son!). 

“And Jesus gave up his spirit.” (He handed it over at his own will. No one took it from Him. HE laid it down. John 10:17-18)

The Jews: “Break their legs so they’ll die quicker. All this must be cleaned up by Sabbath’s start.”

 Such insensitivity! Such cruelty!

The soldiers, done with their job and the haggle over Jesus’ clothes, picked up the mallets used to pound in the spikes (or perhaps the blunt side of their swords) and slammed them into the shins of the two thieves, shattering bone and causing them to put their full weight on their arms, which crushed their lungs and suffocated them to death. At Jesus’s cross they realized He was already dead. (Hadn’t they heard his last words or seen his body slump as He released His spirit?)

A Soldier:  “Let’s make sure. We don’t want to get in trouble for not doing our job.”  He thrust his sword up under Jesus’ rib cage and into his heart. Blood and water came out, proving the Creator of the universe, the perfect Son of God,  the Giver of all life… was already dead.

It was just as Scripture foretold, John explained.  Jesus was lifted up on a tree (crucified) and pierced (with thorns, nails, a sword); and dead by the foreknowledge and will of God. 

crux josephJoseph of Arimathea:  “Pilate, can I take Jesus’ body down and bury it?”

Pilate:  “What? He’s dead already?  Hey, Centurion, is this true?”

Centurion: “Yes, Sir, I pierced His heart  myself. He is dead.” (I saw Him die, felt the earthquake, saw the sun shrouded. Truly this was the Son of God!!)

Pilate:  “Well, okay then. Take the corpse and bury it.”

Joseph and Nicodemus carried Jesus’ dead body to Joseph’s nearby, never-used, garden tomb. They wrapped it in linen cloths, tucking in 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes that Nicodemus had brought. Then rolled a stone across the entrance.

Dead and done.

“But He was wounded for OUR transgressions, he was crushed for OUR iniquities, upon Him was the chastisement (of God) for OUR peace, and with his stripes WE are healed. He has borne OUR griefs and carried OUR sorrows. He was smitten of God, afflicted, stricken…  for OUR  transgressions. He was killed that WE might have eternal life. (from Isaiah 53)

“But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that HE loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (just payment) for our sins.” John 4:6-10 

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”


Believe the truth – against all understanding – that the sinless Jesus bore your (my) sins on himself, and that the holy, righteous, just Almighty God crushed and killed him for those sins (instead of killing us), that the sacrifice Jesus made was ENOUGH punishment – once and for all time, for all who would believe.

“For God made Jesus, who knew no sin, to BE sin for us, that we might BECOME the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21