Story of Shepherds and Magi and Fun Edibles for Holidays

This morning Matt Swaim of the Sonrise Morning Show and I chatted, as we do every Thursday, about Bible foods and herbs. Today it was about the shepherds and magi who came to honor Baby Jesus.

This passage is in Luke: There were shepherds in the same country staying in the field, and keeping watch by night over their flock. And look, an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for see, I bring you good news. The angel told the shepherds to go to Bethlehem.

The shepherds then went to Bethlehem, to see for themselves. They found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby was lying in the feeding trough. They didn’t bring gifts, but represented how Jesus came for everybody, not just the rich. They also symbolize the fact that Jesus himself became a shepherd and we are His flock. 

Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh: Matthew 2:11.  Gold, frankincense and myrrh were among the gifts to Jesus by the Biblical Magi “from out of the East.”

They were called wise men, and developed distinct characteristics in medieval times. They are often depicted as representing 3 races, 3 ages of adult men and 3 different areas.

The first was called Melchior, and according to tradition, he was king of Persia, around 60 years old.  He was an old man, with white hair and long beard; He offered gold to the Lord . He looks very middle eastern to me

The second, Gaspar/Caspar by name, fairly young, middle age, around 40,  beardless, of ruddy hue, offered to Jesus his gift of incense. In my nativity set he looks like he comes from India. 

The third king had black skin, with heavy beard, was the youngest, about 20, and was called Balthazar; He is depicted as coming from Africa. The myrrh he brought was obtained around Yemen.

What was the symbolism of gold?  
Gold symbolized royalty so was a perfect gift for the future king.
Didn’t Frankincense symbolize divinity?
Frankincense symbolized divinity (represents life and was used to anoint newborns).
Where does Frankincense come from?
It’s a resin that is scraped from the bark of the Boswellia tree, which isn’t the most beautiful specimen – sort of scraggly, but strong.  These hardened resins are called tears. 

 Myrrh symbolized Jesus’ future death, as it was an ingredient used in embalming at the time to keep away the smell. 

It is a resin that comes from the sap of a type of Balsam tree.It was very valuable and was used as an incense burned during funerals. Myrrh is used in perfumes, salves, some natural toothpastes, etc.

Now Matt subs in sweet potatoes. Yum!


  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds potatoes (about 3 large potatoes), peeled and quartered and boiled
  • 8 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 clove garlic or garlic powder to taste
  • 2 cups vegetables—diced carrots, corn, peas or mixed veggies
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup beef broth or. more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (optional) 
  • Salt, pepper, other seasonings of choice


While the potatoes are cooking, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until onions are tender. Then I just add everything else and cook until the meat is done.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spread the mixture in an even layer in 9×13 pan.

Spread mashed potatoes over the top.

Rough up the surface of the mashed potatoes with a fork so there are peaks that will get well browned.Bake until browned and bubbling, about 30 minutes. 

Photo, and recipe adapted slightly from: Simply Recipes

Suggested variations:Put a layer of creamed corn between the ground beef and the mashed potatoes.

Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese over the top of the mashed potatoes before baking.



  • 1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • Mixed veggies or favorite vegetable – optional (I like the frozen mixed veggies – as much as you like.)
  • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup 
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese 
  • 1 (16 ounce) package frozen tater tots 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook and stir ground beef and veggies in a large skillet over medium heat until meat is no longer pink and browned, 7 to 10 minutes; season with salt and black pepper.

Stir cream of mushroom soup into the cooked ground beef; pour the mixture into a 9×13-inch baking dish.

Layer tater tots evenly over the ground beef mixture; top with Cheddar cheese.
Bake until tater tots are golden brown and hot, 30 to 45 minutes.


Now to make this a “Magi” gift, use gold colored sprinkles alone or with the peppermint sprinkles.


1 package Oreo cookies

1 bag white chocolate chips or white chocolate bark

Peppermint candy, crushed into sprinkles 


Melt white chocolate very carefully over low heat.  Use a double boiler or a nonstick pan.As soon as it melts but still has a few lumps of unmelted chocolate, remove it from the heat and stir to smooth. Dip each Oreo into the white chocolate, then put on cooling rack.
Immediately sprinkle with crushed peppermint and/or other sprinklesLet dry and enjoy!
Change it up!

Instead of peppermint, use nonpareils, or favorite holiday sprinkles

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