Do you like singing Christmas carols? Caroling was always a family favorite growing up. We’d make huge pots of hot chocolate and chili and everyone would come over. Daddy would build a raging fire in the fireplace and Mom kept the oven working overtime baking cookies. Everyone would gather for dinner and then we’d bundle up and head out to spread our holiday cheer throughout the neighborhood while Mom kept the fire going and the hot chocolate simmering.
We Three Kings was a popular carol we’d sing and then we would debate whether there were really three kings or not. The story of the of the Magi is found in Matthew 2:1-12. Matthew 2:1-2 state “Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.’” Nowhere does it specify the number of Magi present. It only indicates Magi came and they came from the east. Because of the word “we” in verse two we know there was more than one. It has been assumed there were three based on the number of gifts presented to Jesus when the Magi found Him [Matthew 2:11].
They presented Him with gold, frankincense and myrrh. Each of the three gifts was quite valuable and some scholars believe these items financed the holy family’s quick escape to Egypt [Matthew 2:13-23]. The three gifts were also very prophetic in nature, symbolizing who and what the child, Jesus, would be.
Gold was the treasure of kings and Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. “The burning of frankincense was an important part of ancient Israel’s worship of God. This gift indicated that the child, Jesus was God.” Myrrh is a spice that was used to embalm the dead, which is suggested to point to Christ’s death of the cross as the Savior for all.
We Three Kings was written by John Henry Hopkins, Jr. [1820-1891]. This Christmas when you sing or hear the popular carol, keep in mind the King it is about and raise your voice in agreement with the final verse fixing your eyes on the bright Morning Star.
Glorious now behold Him arise,
King and God and sacrifice;
Earth to heaven replies.
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