May you have a Christ-filled Merry Christmas and a fruitful 2024 — Larry & Mell Davies
December 25 – The Wise Men
Matthew chapter 2
The Wise Men or Magi are not connected with Israel or the Jewish people. And the story doesn’t take place at or before Christmas but long after. But, most Nativity Sets and Christmas pageants feature Wise Men. So, what can we learn? First, there is nothing in the Bible saying there are three. Likely, it was a caravan involving wise men, guards and servants. Second, the wise men are frequently called kings but more likely they are emissaries. The Greek word is “magoi” from which our term “magi” comes. In Eastern culture this referred to Zoroastrian priests of the Persian Empire (modern-day Iran). The wise men were likely priests and astrologers.
That’s interesting because Jews in the Bible didn’t mention astrology, nor do they dabble in star gazing. So, a caravan of Zoroastrian Priests travelling hundreds of miles in pursuit of a star is out of the ordinary. The Jews aren’t following a star. Yet here we see God giving a sign to priests of another faith, speaking through their religious language and traditions. The priests left comfortable homes and traveled for weeks to a strange land, bearing expensive gifts. Upon seeing Jesus, they knelt before him filled with joy. So, Zoroastrian Priests get it when Jewish religious leaders looking for a Messiah never recognized God’s sign.
The Wise Men illustrate God tenderly loving people who are outside our comfortable circle. God demonstrates a unique way to share the gift of baby Jesus. So, why is this important? I doubt any of us will be talking to Zoroastrian priests. The Jews believed the Messiah would be their Messiah for their people. They served the One True God who would rescue them from their plight and offer salvation. The priests were outsiders who didn’t belong.
We too were once outsiders. We have little or no Jewish background. The Zoroastrian Priests remind us that God came for everyone including you and I. Christ also came for today’s outsiders, people beyond our church. We offer Christ to others, not because we are right but because we truly believe Jesus truly is “the way and the truth and the life.” We share Christ because he offers the most complete picture of God and in following him, we experience the joy of salvation. We received the gift of Christ, and we offer that same gift to others.
The magnitude of this gift hit me like a ton of bricks at 2:00 AM. I couldn’t stop thinking about this story. You know why? Because I am part of the church leadership running around, doing church stuff for church people. I like to think that I’m touching lives. But at 2:00 AM I realized that if I’m not careful, I will miss the gift and miss the opportunity to drop everything and follow that star. We take Christmas for granted. We don’t mean to, but we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of Christmas that we forget to look for the star that guided the Wise Men. We forget the feeling of surrendering our comfort, our routines, and our lives to experience the sheer joy of seeing the Christ Child.
When we celebrate Christmas, we remember the gifts of the Wise Men by providing our own gifts. Our gifts should symbolize that like the Wise Men, we get it. We are honoring Christ. Will we appreciate the true gift of Christmas, or will we be too caught up in our other distractions?
The Wise Men journeyed many miles under harsh circumstances because they believed there was something significant being pointed out by the star. In their searching, they found Jesus. Have you? When there is no Jesus, Christmas can be depressing! With Jesus there is hope for the future no matter what you are going through in the present. The Wise Men, people of another faith got it while the Jews of that day, missed out. That same star, that same gift is available for you and I today. Don’t miss out.
Prayer Challenge: This Christmas, set aside time to appreciate the birth of Jesus