Twelve wise men, Arabians from the east, arrived Jerusalem late in the evening, the sun already going down over the city. It was the 37th year of the rule of Herod the great, an Edomite, made king over Judea by Augustus and Antonius.
These wise men arrived Jerusalem famished and fagged out, their camels trudging through the city gate, bearing their weights, their backs cringing under it. They had seen a magnificent star in their country, unique from all the others they had seen before. This star reflected royalty; royalty like none they had seen before. So they decided to journey, following the direction of the star, which brought them to the very gate of Jerusalem and disappeared.
They alighted from their camels and stood by the gate, asking passerbys whether they knew a king which was recently born. “Where is He that is born the king of the Jews?” They asked. But no one knew.
It was only less than two years ago that Jesus was born in the lonely horse pen in Bethlehem. The shepherds in the fields were the first to take note of His birth; for they saw and heard glorious things concerning him, and made them known abroad, to the amazement of all that heard them. Simeon and Ann thereafter spoke of Him by the Spirit to all those who were disposed to take heed to what was said. One would have thought that the inhabitants of Jerusalem would have embraced tightly the long awaited messiah, but they continued almost two years without taking note of Christ till these wise Arabians arrived.
Then a young man, dressed in a messenger’s attire, obviously one of king Herod’s messengers approached them, being sent by the king. For the news of who they sought was all over the city. “Sirs, please come with me.” The messenger said to them. “The king would want to make some enquiry concerning who you seek.” Then the wise men went with him.
Herod was pacing furiously in his courtroom. He was greatly troubled. I know the Old Testament prophesied about the messiah and His kingdom. But I was really hoping those prophesies will forever fail, Herod thought. I just hope they are not coming through. He immediately summoned all the chief priests and scribes to the courtroom and asked, “Where is the king of the Jews to be born according to the writings of the prophets?” And they all answered in unison, “Bethlehem! Bethlehem in Judea.”
Not too long after, the wise men were led into Herod’s courtroom. After the salutations and exchange of pleasantries, they asked the question they’ve been asking the whole day. “Where is He that is born the king of the Jews?” “Why do you make this enquiry?” asked Herod. “It is because we have seen His star in the east.” they replied. “What business have you with Him? What have the men of the east to do with the King of the Jews?” asked the king. “We have come to worship him.” they echoed. Then the king said to them deceitfully, “Go and search for Him, then bring me word when you find him, that I may go and worship Him.” Then the messenger who brought them led them out Herod’s palace.
These Arabians walked the desert path leading to Bethlehem alone. What kind of people are these? They thought. Not one person from the court, church or city could accompany us. We came from a far country to pay their king homage and they aren’t even curious enough to find Him. How do we even locate Him in a city so large as Bethlehem?
As they pondered on these things, the star which they had seen in the east appeared right before them, its glow almost blinding their eyes. With exceeding joy that they could not contain, they leaped, screaming and hugging each other, rejoicing that they had at last found their lead for this great quest; that they had not embarked on this journey in vain. For the God who led Israel by a pillar of fire to the promised land was going to lead them by a star to the promised Seed, who Himself is the bright and morning Star.
Following the star’s lead, they arrived at a lonely hut with thatched roof, the star resting over the house. On entering in, they found Mary sitting on a wooden chair, carrying the babe Jesus. Joseph stood beside her; for it was he who had opened the door for them.
The twelve wise men stood in awe. Awe, because of the magnificience that exuded from the babe. For though His current residence and attendance did not reflect the glory and eminence of a natural king, they were wise enough to see through the veil into the glorious eminence that this king of the Jews and king of the world radiated.
They presented first themselves, and then their gifts. They presented themselves; for they fell down before Him and worshipped. For no mention was made of them giving Herod such an honour inspite of all the royal grandeur he put on. But they honoured and worshipped Christ, not just as king, but as God.
They presented their gifts; for they opened their boxes before the babe, from which they brought out Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh – which were money and money’s worth. For this was going to be a relief to Joseph and Mary who were in a poor condition.
And far beyond that, these Arabians, being wise by divine providence, displayed symbolism in the gifts they offered. They offered Gold, for they recognized Christ as king, paying tribute to Him. They gave Frankincense, for they acknowledged Christ as God, honouring Him with the smoke of incense. And they added Myrrh, because they saw Christ as a Man that should die, and whose body would need embalming.
Food For Thought: (1)Many times those who are nearest to the means, are furthest from the end; for a prophet is not without honour, save in His own country. (2) Those who truly desire to know Christ, and find him, will not regard pains or perils in seeking after him. (3) The King of kings should be offered the gift of our lives first, and then the gift of our substance.
Scriptural references: Matthew 2:1-12; Micah 5:2; Revelation 22:16;