April 19, 2023
In biblical times Myrrh was considered just as valuable as gold. Like frankincense, it is the sap from a myrrh tree, dried into a gum resin. It was probably used mostly as a painkiller as well as a treatment for sores, coughs, infections, and worms. The word myrrh means bitter, which was given to the substance because of its bitter taste.
The Bible records myrrh showing up three times in the life and death of Jesus Christ. Matthew states that the Three Wise men visited the child Jesus, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Scholars believe that myrrh was given to Jesus by the wise men because its bitter taste represented the hard times he would have in his life. It may have also foreshadowed his death.
Mark notes that when Jesus was dying on the cross, he was offered wine mixed with myrrh to dull the pain, but he did not take it. It was a merciful custom of the Jews to give those condemned to crucifixion, with a view to producing stupefaction, a strong aromatic wine. Among the ancients, myrrh was regarded as having great effect as a pain killer. Accordingly, the pious women who followed Jesus were only acting according to immemorial custom, when they followed Him weeping, bearing the cup of wine, mingled with myrrh, and offered it to Him before He was stretched on the cross, and His hands and feet nailed to the wood. He, however, turned away His head. He would not drink of the offered cup; not because He disapproved of the piety and pity of the women who offered it, but because He would not seem in any way to evade the sufferings He had come to endure. Finally, John says Nicodemus brought a mixture of 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes to anoint Jesus' body, then wrapped it in linen cloths and laid in the tomb.