Friday, December 17, 2010

Celebrating Christmas—The Wise Men

Of all the stories associated with the birth of Jesus Christ, the story of the Wise Men intrigues me most.  How did they recognize the star? What made them come so far? Who were they?

I once heard a scholar speak about them and his assumption was that since they were from the East they were non Jewish. But there were many Jewish communities in the East as well as in Egypt. Therefore, my guess is that the Wise Men were or at least had been influenced by Jewish people taken from Palestine at the time of the Babylonian conquest. Did angels announce the birth and instruct them as they did to the shepherds? Or did the Wise Men have scriptures or an oral tradition that prophesied of Christ’s birth? The wording in Matthew makes me think they had scriptures or an oral tradition that they recognized. All we are told is that they saw the sign in the East and then traveled west to Judea.  It was a long journey, and once in Jerusalem they began to inquire, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?  For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2).

News of their inquiries concerning a king reached Herod, and he sent for them under the guise of wanting to worship this new king.  But in fact, he was troubled by prophecies that another would rule Israel–after all, wasn’t he the king of this land?  He told the Wise Men of the prophecy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem and sent them on their way instructing them to return to tell him when they had found the new king. But being warned by an angel of Herod’s evil intent the Wise Men found Mary, Joseph, and Jesus in a house in Bethlehem and after presenting their gifts and worshiping their true king, they returned to the East.

We think of the Wise Men as following a star, but in reality they were following their own hearts. They saw the star or the sign, but it was their hearts that guided them to travel west, to find their Savior, and to refuse to tell Herod. Thus we have a beautiful definition of what it means to be a wise man or woman—someone who follows the righteous promptings of their heart.


Knowles Family said...

Sherrie, I've sure been enjoying your blog with all the Christmas/Nativity posts. I have been using these daily with our family scripture study. Thanks for sharing your wonderful insights with all of us.

Wendi said...

This is why I love the phrase, "Wise men still seek Him." Thank you for sharing this. :)