Did you know that the name "Smyrna" means "myrrh"? Smyrna was a major Greek port city of Asia Minor, second only to Ephesus in grandeur and strategic significance. It was also a major processing place for myrrh (hence the name "Smyrna"). This coming Sunday we will look at Christ’s letter to the church in Smyrna, the second of seven letters to seven churches in Asia Minor.

 

But in this blog I want to address myrrh, the aromatic spice so beloved by so many for so long. Myrrh is mentioned 19 times in Scripture, seven of those times in Song of Solomon (1.13, 3.6, 4.6, 4.14, 5.1, 5.5 & 5.13). You should look them up—but be prepared to blush!

 

In Matthew 2.11 where we read that the magi (or "wise men") were "…going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him…they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh." The gift of gold is fit for a king; Jesus is the "King of Kings." The gift of frankincense is fit for worshipping God; Jesus is God. And the gift of myrrh is for embalming the dead; Jesus died—and rose again!

 

In John 19.39 where we read that "Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight." Assuming he used the liquid form of myrrh, and assuming that the 75 lbs. mentioned was half myrrh and half aloes, the 37.5 lbs. of myrrh would cost about $3,000 today (liquid myrrh is about $20.00/4 oz. at amazon.com—you do the math. Truly, Nicodemus was "born again" (John 3.1-15), for he trusted Him as his Savior and showed his love for Him by spending that kind of money on His burial.

 

And in Mark 15.23 where we read that "…they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it." Apparently, myrrh has analgesic qualities, especially when mixed with wine and ingested. But as Mark tells us, he refused it. We read in Mark 14.36 that the night before His crucifixion at the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed to the Father, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will." But the will of the Father was prophesied by Isaiah some seven centuries prior, for we read in Isaiah 53.5 that, "…he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed." As I understand all this, Jesus could not accept any relief from His suffering, for He needed to atone for the full burden of our sin.

 

I’ll have "myrrh" to say about Jesus’ letter to the Church in Smyrna on Sunday.