I have a set of tin Wise Men that my daughter in law gave me for my birthday, which is in April. She worked at the retail store where they were sold while she was in college, and waited till they went on clearance so she could afford them. It was one of the sweetest birthday presents I have ever gotten, because she remembered how much I had admired them on the previous Christmas, and then surprised me in April with a very “unseasonal” gift. I have kept them on display ever since. She laughs at me, but I have a very solid reason. Here is the story behind why I keep my Wise Men up all year long.
The true Christmas story is a beautiful and mesmerizing story. Every year, when I finally get a moment to settle down from the hustle and bustle and the myriad of obligations of the Holiday season, I am awed by it again and again. Sometimes, what triggers this awe-moment is a special Christmas song on the radio or from my own collection. Sometimes, it is a still quiet time of meditation about the nativity story itself. Many times it is when I think about Mary and Joseph, and all they went through as they yielded themselves in obedience to God’s plan, even though they didn’t fully comprehend that plan.
I speculate often about how they probably thought they were ruining the entire plan by what they may have considered personal failure, but it wasn’t failure at all. It was totally God’s Sovereign plan… the stable, the shepherds, the weary journey to Bethlehem at the “worst” possible time, humanly speaking. But God had a special plan all along in all these things, that would introduce His Son to us in the humblest of ways, glorifying Himself in the biggest of ways!
All of these things are part of my regular “Christmas Ponderings.”
But there is one aspect of the Christmas story that I ponder all year long…
The story of the Wise Men.
If you are a student of scripture, or trying to be one, you probably understand that the wise men, or Magi, did not appear at the Nativity scene. This is not where they presented their gifts and bowed down to worship the King of Kings.
Matthew chapter 2, which is where the story of the Wise Men is found, tells us that they “went to the house where the young child was” with Mary and Joseph. This was after inquiring in Jerusalem where the King of the Jews had been born, which was very unwelcome news to King Herod, by the way.
By the wise men’s own account to King Herod, they had “seen His star in the East and were come to worship Him.” The Scribes in Jerusalem quoted the scripture Micah 5:2 to the Magi, “but thou Bethlehem, Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” That is how the Wise Men were re-directed to Bethlehem, and “lo, the star which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.” (2:9)
If, as many Bible scholars believe, these Wise Men/Magi were a new generation of the Magi of Daniel’s time while he was an exile in Babylon, then they probably had some Biblical and prophetic knowledge handed down from Daniel’s teachings to their forefathers, but they wouldn’t have the full scope of knowledge concerning Biblical prophecy, which is why they didn’t know the Bethlehem part. They did obviously want to seek out and worship this new King of the Jews, and they most likely understood that this was no “mere” mortal that was born, but the Incarnate God-man that Daniel had worshipped and prophesied about.
That was enough! They were very much true seekers as they traveled for months to come and present their own precious and prophetic gifts to the object of their worship. Jesus.
When they were led by the star to the house in Bethlehem, they found the young child Jesus with his mother Mary. They immediately fell down and worshipped Jesus. Then they presented their precious gifts:
Gold – a symbol of royalty;
Frankincense – a symbol of Deity;
Myrrh – a symbol of death.
(Three gifts, which is why we always picture 3 wise men, but the Bible doesn’t tell us how many there actually were.)
God warns the Wise Men to depart a different way and not to report back to Herod. But because he had already inquired of the wise men the timing of the star, Herod commits a horrific act, now known as the Slaughter (sometimes called Massacre) of the Innocents. Evilly decreeing that all boy babies 2 years old and under are killed in and all around Bethlehem. I can only imagine the wailing that was heard throughout the city and beyond.
Sovereignly, God had warned Joseph in a dream to escape with the young child and His mother into Egypt, which Joseph does immediatly.
So, why do I keep my Wise Men on display in my home all year long?
It’s a visual reminder to me. It reminds me that the truth of the ages from this part of the “Christmas” story is, and always has been, that wise men and wise women, wise boys and wise girls, still seek Jesus. Not just at Christmas time, but all through the year.
The Bible tells us that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10)
Another verse in James 1:5 tells us “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (ESV)
This is why I keep my Wise Men figurines out all year round. To provide a daily reminder and a witness to all who enter my home, that true wisdom comes from constantly and diligently seeking Jesus. Learning about Him. Growing in Him. Talking to Him. Following Him. Obeying Him.
I want to be wise. To achieve that never-ending goal, I need to continually be a seeker of Jesus. Even though I already know Him as my personal Savior and Friend, I want to know more about Him every day. I want to be more like Him everyday.
The Wise Men from the Bible may or may not have known who Jesus truly was as they traveled to find Him. I don’t know if they fully understood and had given their hearts & lives to Him. But I believe with all my heart that as they returned to their homeland, they were returning with a Savior in their hearts, and a forever changed direction in their steps. They had answered the question of “What will you do with Jesus?” when they had bowed and worshipped at His feet.
That is the truest wisdom of all.
© 2018 LauraJSE All RIGHTS RESERVED