Today, we celebrate the wisdom of the Wise Men (or Magi as some Bible translations refer to them). Yes, I know this is seemingly a bit out-of-order in light of the Christmas story, but please bear with me here. I do have a point to telling it out-of-order. 😉
This morning, I was inspired to talk about the Wise Men when Chelsea looked at a craft pack of crowns and asked if she could make those while Theresa worked on her school work. I had originally planned to do a Santa or snowman craft with them, but I was humbled by this simple request to make a crown instead. A voice told me to go with it – to take a moment and pause, considering the weight of the season, and the true value it has for our family. In all the hustle and bustle of preserving the season, I had forgotten one very important thing – Jesus.
I could make excuses, but I won’t. It hit me that my private devotions are done away from the girls. I began to consider what I actually share with them about Jesus apart from Sunday mornings and family prayers in the car, and at the meal table as we break bread, and I realized that it just wasn’t enough. Not now, not when we are celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Master and Creator. So I began to think about the Wise Men, search out their story, and consider their Wisdom in traveling thousands of miles to visit a tiny baby born in Bethlehem…
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Wise Men from the east came to Jerusalem, and asked, “Where is the One who has been born King of Jews? We saw His star in the east and came to worship Him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
“’But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’”
Then Herod called the Wise Men secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find Him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship Him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Matthew 2:1-12 NIV
There are many aspects of this story that I’d never considered before. The Wise Men came to see a baby. A tiny baby. They came to see the God-child, born of a virgin. What a miracle! This affirms the fact that Jesus was born to save the world! He did not come simply for the Jews, but for all of man kind. Man kind who were so desperately in need of even just the hope of salvation, that they were willing to travel to worship at the feet of a tiny baby, in order to carry that seed of hope back to others in their homeland.
Take a moment and consider the weight of that thought right there. There was a time before people understood that God wanted to save man from himself, so they had tried in vain to earn their own salvation. Can you imagine the desperation of the people in that time in history?
There was immense wisdom in visiting the Christ child. They had proof that God had come to them in physical form. They had a real, tangible vision of hope to carry home. To the sick and down trodden, they had hope to give. To those rotting in their own sins, they had hope to give. God had come! God had heard their prayers! And not just the Jews, but the prayers of the world
There was never a time in the Gospel when Jesus’ story was not powerful and beautiful. There was a never time in His life when He was not duly loved and hated by the world and by His own people. We see Herod plotting to kill him in verse 16, if we read on in the story. Herod and his followers were disturbed by the mere mention of the Christ child’s birth in verse 3. No, for them a Messiah could not come, for at that time, the Jews were expecting a mighty warrior to be raised up and avenge the Jews. After all, Jesus was in the line of David – the great and mighty war hero! Blood would be shed over the injustice done to the Jews, right? Herod would not lose his life. No, he would take one. And there the plot to kill Jesus begins.
I want to take a moment and pause here. I want us to consider this point, because I feel it’s a very crucial one to remember. People were hostile towards a tiny baby merely because of what He represented. Jesus had not yet done any miracles. He had not preached in the temple yet, He had not called anyone to Him through His own physical mouth (other than perhaps His mother, father, close family members, as a child does when He wants food, comfort, play). He was already sentenced to die – from birth.
The gifts of the Wise Men make sense now, don’t they? Gold, incense, myrrh. They knew Jesus had to die. They knew blood would be shed, but it would not be the blood of a people group necessarily, but of Jesus Himself. And at birth, Jesus’ posse of followers were formed. He was building an army, of sorts, without even having called anyone to Him through His own physical mouth. His Father in Heaven began weaving solutions into problems Jesus didn’t even know He had yet. The world began rallying behind this tiny baby – the Christ child, before He had uttered one word of hope to them.
That is the power of the Gospel. Life. Not words. Life.
As we enter into this Christmas season, I pray that our lives are lived like those of the Wise Men – that we would see the value in the Christ child and what He represents, taking more than just a snippet of time to seek Him out and worship Him. I pray also that we would remember to carry the message of Hope to all in our path, through more than words – through the lives we live.