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“So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy.”

- 1 Peter 1:14-15


A Wise Journey

A Wise Journey

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The wise men who visited Jesus are a standard in most nativity sets. They have become more of a tradition than actual figures in a historical event, so let’s get back to some facts. The wise men were not at the nativity when Jesus was born, we don’t know how many there were, we assume three based on the gifts, and we don’t know if they were kings. They are called Magi, which is the plural of the Latin magus, meaning “a magician, a practitioner of magic including: astronomy/astrology, alchemy, and other forms of esoteric knowledge.” The magi coming to see the newborn Messiah is the story of scientists recognizing the signs and not denying God but seeking Him. 

“‘Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.’” (Matthew 2:2)

These astronomers studied the stars, and when they saw this particular one in the sky they recognized it as the star of the Messiah. They didn’t try to disprove it or deny it; when they recognized the sign of the Messiah, they sought Him out to worship him. 

They did not know, however, that Herod was not happy that a baby had been born whom people were calling the king of the Jews. Verse 3 tells us that Herod was “deeply disturbed” when he heard what the Magi had said and he called together all the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked them where the Messiah was supposed to be born and it is here that we get confirmation of the first fulfilled prophecy. 

“‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they said, ‘for this is what the prophet wrote: “And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.”’” (Matthew 2:5-6)

This was just one of over 300 prophecies Jesus would fulfill. Herod did not like the idea of a new king being born so he has a private meeting with the Magi and tells them: “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!” (Matthew 2:8). The Magi were foreigners and had no reason to not trust Herod so they went on their way, following the star to Bethlehem.

Now we don’t know how long this journey took, but we do know they did not arrive at the stable the night of Jesus’ birth, as is often depicted, but that they arrived at a house where Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were staying. 

“They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11)

These are scientists, very intellectual individuals, and they gave very intelligent, purposeful gifts. Gold was a symbol of Jesus’ kingship, frankincense is thought of as a symbol of his deity to honor him as God, and myrrh (which is an embalming oil) represented the death he would face on the cross. These are not standard gifts for the baby of a carpenter and his young wife—they are gifts for a divine king and Savior. 

“When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.” (Matthew 2:12)

Not only did the Magi believe in the sign of the star, but they trusted the warning they received from God. Before they met Jesus, they were, in a sense, working for the enemy: Herod wanted to know where Jesus was so he could kill him. After they met Jesus, they do not go back to where they came from, and throughout the Gospels we’ll see that Jesus has that affect on people. For Christians, that’s our story, too: before Jesus, we were working for the enemy, but after encountering Jesus, we don’t return to the enemy because there’s no going back. 

“For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.” (Romans 5:10)

The Magi saw the sign and pursued it, and after finding Jesus, everything changed. If you haven’t made that wise journey from working for the enemy to serving your King, it’s not too late. God waits for His children, He pursues the one who runs away, and the Christmas story is a perfect demonstration of how far God is willing to go to call you His child. 

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.


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