Below are a few bullet points to help us understand who these Wise men or Magi were:
- They were from the “East”, most likely coming from Babylon. (Daniel 2 and Daniel 5)
- The plural “men” tell us that there were more than one, but it’s only according to tradition (not scripture) that there were three.
- The Gifts indicate that these men had abundant resources. They had money to purchase lavish gifts, and travel long distances.
- The word ”Magi” comes form the Magoi or Magos, where we also derive our word Magic or Magician.
- They are more akin to our astrologers, enchanters, magicians and wizards of sorts.
- The scriptures say that the wise men studied the stars and saw a particular astronomical phenomenon that carried the conviction to follow after it.
- Their intent was to Worship the “King of the Jews” as deity.
What we saw from the post-birth narrative was that there were 3 reactions to the coming of God in the person of Jesus:
The choice of the Jewish priests and scribes was indifference.
The wise men came to their doorstep to effectively say “Where is the Messiah Child who is the King?”
These chief priests and scribes KNEW THEIR BIBLE and could easily recall what these strange men from the east were talking about. They didn’t have to open their Bible to quote Micah 5:2 to know where the Messiah would be born.
It’s not surprising they knew the answer; what is surprising is they did NOTHING WITH THE ANSWER.
But the word of Jesus is that he is not indifferent towards our apathy. He calls us to himself and to humble and willing obedience.
The choice of Herod was Anger.
As we look into history Herod was a paranoid and angry man. But his heart was “troubled” or roused to anger because this new King Jesus was challenging his authority/reputation and comfort.
A person usually reacts with anger against that which they know to be a threat.
When we are confronted with the words of Christ; he challenges our deeply entrenched habits and our learned sinful patterns of living and we are exposed and called upon to change.
The mere fact that Jesus exists POSES VALID CRITICISM OF OUR LIVES AND SELF because he is Holy and Perfect in every way.
But the promise of Jesus is Redemption, not uncomfortable living.
The choice of the Wise men was Worship.
These men, although imperfect, although sinners, worshiped.
They humbled themselves to the floor and worshiped.
They gave gifts and worshiped.
They disobeyed worldly authority and worshiped.
Worship was their intent from the beginning and worship is how the journey ended.
And they were received even though they were the least likely people.
This is the Good news of the Gospel.
The least likely candidates for God’s grace, receive it in abundance.
As we continue to contemplate the coming of Christ and it’s significance during this Christmas season and every day, may we be aware of our tendencies towards indifference and anger. But may we respond to the Gospel of Jesus with Worship.