All I Want For Christmas
Lesson 2: Frankincense
Lesson Workbook Click here
Students examine how the Magi's gift of Frankincense represents Jesus as our High Priest.
• To teach students about the significance of frankincense used in worship in the Bible
• To reveal a connection between the gift the Magi gave Jesus and the way we worship Jesus
• To inspire students to live daily lives of worship by giving their entire selves to Jesus
Christmas, Knowing Jesus
OPENING PRAYER (5 to 10 minutes)
GROUP BUILDING (10 minutes)
Hold an ugly Christmas sweater party. Have students model their tackiest holiday garb--old lady sweaters, silly Christmas socks, Santa hats, jingle bells for earrings, etc. Mix up some hot chocolate and serve Christmas cookies. Spend time singing a few of your favorite Christmas carols. But do it fast! There’s still a lesson to cover!
Preparation for Next Week:
Inform students that the group building activity next week will be a gift scramble. Invite students to bring in used items from home to be given as a white elephant gift. The gifts should be wrapped, can be useful or humorous, and should be inexpensive.
GETTING STARTED (10 minutes)
• What is your favorite Christmas song? Why?
• Why do you think music has become such a special part of our Christmas celebrations?
• Do you think singing connects you to God in a significant way? Why/why not?
Today, we will continue our discussion of the Magi in Matthew 2. As we discovered last week, they gave gifts that teach us something about what they thought about Jesus. Last week we discovered that they gave gold, signifying that they believed Jesus to be the King of the Jews, the Messiah.
Today, we will discuss another gift the Magi gave to Jesus called frankincense. Let’s find out what that is.
DIGGING DEEP (15 minutes)
Read Matthew 2:1-12
We read that chapter last week, but I wanted to read it again to set the stage for the entire Magi story. Let’s review what we know about them so far based on the passage we just read.
1. Where did the Magi come from? (The East.)
2. What three gifts did the Magi give to Mary and Joseph? (Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.)
3. What did we discover the gold stood for regarding whom the Magi believed Jesus to be? (It was a gift fit for a king.)
4. What was the next gift mentioned? (Frankincense, or incense as in many translations.)
Today we’re going to take a closer look at the second gift--the gift of frankincense.
Frankincense is mentioned quite often in the Bible.
(Have students look up each of these verses and take turns reading them aloud. Note: some of these verses may not translate to “frankincense” in every situation, but each of them includes the Hebrew word for the term.)
• Exodus 30:34
• Leviticus 2:1
• Jeremiah 41:5
• Malachi 1:11
The word for “frankincense” in the Hebrew language was taken from the word that means “white.” It was commonly used in tabernacle and temple worship. While we don’t understand Old Testament worship very well, the New Testament mentions this same worship style as well.
Read Luke 1:5-17
1. Whom do we meet in this text? (Zechariah.)
2. What does this man do? (He is a priest in the temple.)
3. What are some of his duties? (To burn incense while others prayed outside.)
4. What does the angel say will come to be with his son? (He will be the forerunner of the Christ, making way for the Lord.)
We learn later in the text that his boy is John the Baptist. John introduces Jesus to the public, baptizing Him and initiating His public ministry. Moreover, this all happens under the backdrop of temple worship.
MAKING IT REAL (25 minutes)
Frankincense was used in worship in the Old Testament and in Jesus’ time as well.
1. Why would the Magi give Mary and Joseph Frankincense? (They were worshipping Jesus.)
2. Do you think Mary and Joseph would have recognized this as the Magi's motivation? (Probably.)
3. When you think of worship, what comes to mind? (Church, singing, praying, etc.)
4. Do you think that is all there is to worship? (Allow for discussion.)
5. What are other ways we can worship Jesus? (Serving, helping others, loving a life of obedience, etc.)
I want to focus in on a verse in the New Testament that actually says, “This is worship!”
Read Romans 12:1-3
1. In the Old Testament, what was a common component of worship? (The offering of sacrifices.)
2. What is the true and proper worship that Romans 12:1 talks about? (Offering our bodies to God as living sacrifices.)
3. What do you think it means to be a living sacrifice? How is it like an Old Testament sacrifice of an animal? (We submit, we humble ourselves, we lay down our rights, we sacrifice everything we are so God can do what He wants with us.)
4. Why do you think God says this is worship, instead of singing songs or something? (You can sing songs or pray and not really love Jesus.)
5. Can you submit your whole life to Jesus and fake it? (Not really, you either submit or you don’t.)
That’s not where Romans 12:1-3 ends, though. Let’s re-read verses 2 and 3.
Re-read Romans 12:2-3
Fortunately, Romans 12 tells us how to offer ourselves up to God.
1. What does verse 2 say not to do? (Conform to the world.)
2. What does verse 2 say we should do? (Be transformed by the renewing of our minds.)
3. What happens when we do this? What are we able to do? (Test and approve God’s Will.)
4. Verse 3 tells us what the basis of all of this is. One comes from God and one comes from our attitude. What comes from God? (His faith.)
5. What is the attitude that we should have? (Humility, not thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought.)
Let’s go back to the Magi. These men travelled who knows how long. Despite their wisdom, position, and stature, they stand in a modest home, in a distant land, with a young, peasant couple and an infant child. They gave Jesus gold because they recognized that He was the King of the Jews, the Messiah, and their response was to worship Him.
Read Matthew 2:2
1. What is the Magi’s purpose? (They are there to worship Jesus.)
2. How should their purpose be like our purpose? (Our lives should be all about worshipping, too.)
3. We don’t have frankincense to give. What should we give instead? (Ourselves.)
4. How do you do that, practically speaking? (Serve Him, obey Him, sacrifice for Him, etc.)
(Remind students to bring a used, inexpensive, and wrapped item from home to be given as a white elephant gift for the group building excercise next week.)
CLOSING PRAYER (10 minutes)
Pray for your students to worship Jesus this Christmas by giving themselves to Him completely.