And when they [the Wise Men] had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:11
There’s always someone who will point at your nativity set and inform you that the Wise Men were not there for the birth of Christ. That’s true. If the Magi were headquartered in Babylon, the journey they made would have taken something on the order of six weeks, at least. But I don’t think they are in the nativity sets for the sake of factual accuracy but rather because they play an important role in the story. A role worth emulating.
They were alert to the working of God. Although they didn’t know Yahweh, they knew that star-thing was unlike anything they had observed before. Scholars speculate that they had access to Daniel’s writings and connected the dots that the supernatural celestial events pointed to the King Daniel had foreseen.
They sacrificed. Those gifts they brought were not cheap. Even if the Magi were as wealthy as they are typically depicted, the gifts were lavish.
They were committed. Not only did they make an arduous trip to Jerusalem, they asked everybody they encountered where the newborn King was. They were not giving up until they saw Him.
They were genuine. They rejoiced when the star reappeared. They humbled themselves and fell down before the baby and worshiped Him.
The Wise Men prove that the joy and wonder of the birth of Christ aren’t confined to that one night. It extends to everyone who is aware of the working of God, who commits to confronting the reality of the King who came (and is coming again), to everyone willing to turn over their best and genuinely experience the joy of worship.
Hundreds of years before, Isaiah the prophet wrote of Gentiles, coming to the kingdom, bringing gold and incense with them (Isa. 60:5-6). These guys were the first. We, too, are part of that procession to a Kingdom that, for now, is not of this world (John 18:36) but will soon come in power and glory.
That’s a message we need to carry out this Christmas and beyond. Maybe it would go something like this:
I still feel the joy and wonder at the birth of Christ like the Wise Men. Granted I haven’t traveled a long distance or brought expensive gifts, but I try to worship Christ by being active in my church and trying to live a life that honors Him. You see, Jesus isn’t just a baby or a teacher, He’s a king. The invitation to be part of that kingdom is open to everyone.
May the reality of Christ with us touch you with fresh wonder and urgency this Christmas and may you be ever more aware of God’ rich blessings in the new year. I’ll see you then!