Who do you think put in the most preparations and efforts toward Christmas? Matthew in stressing Jesus’ kingship, records (Ch.2) how some Magi – scholarly astrologers and kingmakers from the Orient – came ‘bearing gifts and traveling afar’. At all costs, these wise men sought a Savior ‘in whom are hide’ all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2: 3,9). They offered the baby Jesus the most significant gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh that depicted His kingly messiahship, priestly service and redemptive mission. There are essential insights we can learn as we journey with these men in search of truth
1. They Saw God’s Messenger (v.2).
There has been much debate as to what exactly was the Star of Bethlehem. Some suggest it was Halley’s Comet that appeared at that time, others a meteorite shower or a shooting star. Whatever the scientific explanation, the Bible is clear, for these non-Jewish wise men this special light was a heavenly messenger! Not blinded by their own wisdom or ‘light’ these brilliant scholars were in fact students and were led by the pursuit of ‘truth’.
2. They Started out on a Mission (v.2)
The Stargazers from the East were observer-participants. They were moved by faith to act upon the light God had revealed. Desperate to know truth, they embarked on a distant, difficult and dangerous journey. They set out on a mission that humanly speaking seemed impossible but were propelled by a clear goal – to find a new king born. They did not know it was the Christ-child Yahweh promised to the nation of Israel since it formation.
3. They Seemingly made a Mistake (v.3)
During the last stint in their star search could it be that these wise men relied more on their human judgment. In all their calculations could they have for a moment taken their eyes of God’s guiding light– the Star? On reaching the capital Jerusalem, they reasoned: ‘Where would a king be born?’ Of course, in a palace! Going to king Herod was indeed a big mistake. It cost the lives of hundreds of innocent baby boys under two years who were massacred. Believers are exhorted not to lean on our own understanding (Prov. 3:5).
4. They Soon found God’s Messiah (v.10-11a)
After being interviewed by Herod, looking into the Scriptures and on cleaving the palace, the Star reappeared to lead them to Bethlehem. It finally rested on the house where the child (not baby) was with Mary and Joseph. ‘Surprised by joy’ they must have thought: ‘What Child is this?’ God’s simplicity, yet profound wisdom! Their long search ended as the Star light shone brighter unto this perfect day! All who sincerely seek Truth find Jesus as the interpretive key. Those who find Jesus pay homage to His incomparable glory.
5. They Shared in Christ’s Majesty (v.11b).
These men of high position came, some say from Parthia near Babylon and others, from different nations but certainly find Jesus – the Light to the Gentiles (Isa. 49:6; Lk.2:42). The wise men fulfilled the purpose for which they had come – to worship King Jesus and, in a sense, represent the entire world bowing before Him! Theology’s goal is doxology and worship involves giving; of one’s self, service and substance. These astrologers gave expensive gifts not because they found a weak or poor child but in recognition of Christ’s deity, future mission, they honored Him who is perfect, just and worthy of their best.
6. They were Sent with God’s Mercy (v.12)
God in his grace had directed these wise men in many ways: with the Star, through the Scriptures (Micah 5:2) but ultimately to Christ. He now warns each of them through a same dream not to go back to wicked Herod but to their own land another way. True, no one comes and meets Christ and goes back the same way; it’s always a ‘new’– His way! The fear of the Lord is indeed the beginning of all wisdom. When we trust in Christ and acknowledge Him in all our ways, God promises to (re)direct our paths (Prov. 9:10; 3:6)
We’ve learnt much from these wise men who sought Jesus and found him to be the Way, Truth and their Life! Through their quest, they came to know ‘in Christ’ something about the gracious ways and so great a salvation of their Creator, Father God. Divine guidance comes to those with prepared and receptive hearts who are faithful to follow God’s instructions. Of course, when we give our best, our all, to Jesus, his Spirit will ‘lead us into all truth’– truth that sets us free, that delivers us from all our sins, Satan and even our-selves! Wise men and women still seek Jesus!