As Christmas is quickly approaching, I am writing a very short series featuring different people in the Christmas story. For the first post I focused on Joseph, and for the second round I wrote about the shepherds. Today I would like to look at the Wise Men and their role in this wonderful account.
In studying Matthew 2, there is much speculation surrounding the Wise Men. I have read a whole slew of different opinions, studies, and commentary regarding these men. Were there only three Magi? Probably not, we just assign the number three due to the fact that they brought three gifts. Did they visit Jesus, Mary, and Joseph at the stable like you see in typical nativity scenes? Again, probably not. It likely happened when Jesus was a bit older, not an infant. I will tell you that I am NOT an expert, so I won’t go too much into all of those details.
However, this is what I do want to share about the Wise Men, or the Magi:
In sharp contrast to the shepherds, these were probably wealthy, well educated men. In my last post I mentioned about the shepherds and how they would have been on a very low rung of the social ladder. These guys? Totally different story. They would have been well versed in the prophecies as well as astrology and many other studies. Also, the gifts they brought to Jesus would have been very costly items, so they must have been wealthy.
Another thing I’d like to note is that they truly sought out Jesus and recognized him as the Messiah. This may sound obvious, but it has lessons for us. It’s not like they saw something unusual in the sky and just happened to hop on over to the next town to check out why. They would have studied past scriptures and prophecies and recognized the signs. These men must have been attuned to God’s word and leading. Upon reaching their destination, they were “overjoyed.” They didn’t find a fancy king on a throne, but a little boy with humble parents. In Matthew 2:10-11, it says that when they saw him they “bowed down and worshiped him.” Also, they presented their three gifts, very costly items that were truly meant for a king. These guys recognized Jesus as king of the Jews and honored him for who he was.
The last mention of the wise men in Matthew tells us what happened after they worshiped Jesus. Herod had known they were seeking out the Messiah and had wanted them to come back and report to him about this future king. However, after they visited Jesus, they were divinely warned not to return to Herod. Instead, they returned to their homeland by a different route. This part of the story tells me that they were not only receptive to God’s leading, but obeyed Him rather than man.
So, what is my take-away from learning about the Magi? They studied God’s word, followed its leading, recognized Jesus for who he was, were quick to worship Him and honored Him with their all, and obeyed God rather than man. All things that I would like to aspire to today as well.