“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1-2)
They are men of mystery, we find it intriguing to wonder about them. They are described as wise men (magi in the original language of Greek).They traveled on a long road from the east, over miles of challenging terrain to find an answer to a very important question: “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1-12)
There is little else we are told specifically about these men, their physical appearances are not described, we don’t know how many wise men there were, and we don’t even know exactly where they came from. We do know that they were experienced astronomers of a remarkable kind, for they set out on this quest to find truth because they saw his star!
When they arrived near their destination, Herod, the ruler of Jerusalem at that time, called them into his presence and interviewed them. He asked them about what time the star they were following had appeared. There were characteristics about this king that caused Herod to be troubled, and he asked the religious leaders where Christ, the predicted Messiah of the Hebrew people, was to be born. After he received their answer, he directed the wise men to go to Bethlehem, where all the prophets had predicted the Messiah would be born. He asked them to let him know once the child was found, so he also could supposedly worship him.
Amazingly the star appeared as they headed towards Bethlehem, and it’s light shown above the house where the child was with his mother Mary. This filled them with joy and they fell down and worshiped him, offering him valuable gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And then another astonishing thing is revealed to us, they were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, so they departed and went back to their own country just as they were told.
These details are all we actually have recorded about these wise men, but we may understand some important truths from their history:
- They were wise because they paid attention to the signs they were given in the heavens.
- They were diligent and committed because they followed the signs to answer this important question.
- They were bold. We see people, including Herod, noticed when they arrived in Jerusalem and how they were seeking to answer this important question.
- They were respectful. When summoned, they went to Herod when he called them before him, they listened to him and followed his directions to Bethlehem, which the prophets had predicted would be the place where the Messiah would be born.
- They were humble, for when they arrived at the place where the child lived with his mother Mary, they fell down and worshiped him.
- They were prepared for their task. They had provisioned themselves for the journey and when they arrived at their destination, they offered their gifts to the great king who was the child, Jesus.
- They were joyful believers. When they found what they were looking for, they responded with great joy and reverence. They didn’t second-guess the process, or necessarily understand exactly how all these events came together. They went where they were led by these wondrous signs and circumstances, and worshiped him who they found.
- They were obedient. When they received the warning in a dream, they followed the warning and departed to their own country by another way.
While these are all great lessons that we can learn, the most important thing in this historical account, is the king that they honored. His story is the point of their story. The child they found is the King of Glory, the Prince of Peace, the Son of God, the Messiah, Jesus the Christ. We invite you to come and see this Jesus, The Bright and Morning Star and the reason for our hope.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” (Isaiah 60:1-3)