The three wise men, also known as magi, or kings, came from afar, “following yonder star”. Traditionally their names are Gaspar/Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar/Balthazar, but the bible does not record this. It is believed that they came from ancient Persia, modern day Iraq and beyond, to meet the new king. They found the baby Jesus.
They were of noble birth, educated, wealthy and influential. They were counselors to kings, philosophers and learned in the ancient wisdom of the East. They may have been Jews left behind in Babylon after the exile, the could have been astrologers who studied ancient manuscripts from around the world, some say they each came from a different land. An interesting article on this is written by Chad Ashby at Christianity Today. http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/holidays/christmas/magi-wise-men-or-kings-its-complicated.html.
We know that they were wise, because they watched the times, and the stars and were able to interpret information on where to go. And then they took action.
Following a star…
Being learned men of the ancient East, they would have been aware of the Hebrew, Messianic prophecy in the Old Testament, the words of Balaam: “A star will come out of Jacob; a sceptre will rise out of Israel” (Numbers 24:17, NKJV). When they saw a star appear, one they had not seen before, and looked at the times (probably understanding the time prophecy in Daniel 9:25-26, who lived in Babylon), they recognised “his star” and followed it with gifts.
Just five miles south of Jerusalem and predicted in Micah 5:2: ‘But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.’ Jesus would have been about 1-2 years old, and Mary and Joseph were married and staying in Bethlehem. (Luke 2:39).
Expecting to meet a king…
They promptly went to Herod and bluntly announced: “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews. We saw his star in the East and have come to worship him.” They did not expect to receive anything from the king they were visiting, instead in wisdom, they came to worship Him for who He is. When the star stopped over the house, the wise men were overjoyed, since their long journey was at an end, and they were meeting the king. They bowed down and worshipped Him. Would you go through all that effort to meet a king.
Then they opened their treasures…
Worthy gifts to give to a king, notice, the word says they opened “their” treasures. They didn’t just scratch in their bags, but brought our what was precious to them. True worship is honoring Christ for who He is and being willing to give Him what is valuable to you. Traditionally the gifts represent who Christ is and what He would accomplish. Gold is a gift for a king. Frankincense is a gift for deity. Myrrh, a spice used for a person who would die. Jesus is king, is God and would die to restore us to Him.
We have all the knowledge and technology of today, access to ancient resources, and the wisdom of many. We have all the information we need, but unlike the wise men, are not able to discern the times we are living in. We identify ourselves with Jesus, call ourselves Christians, but fail to worship Him in Spirit and in truth. And when it comes to our treasures, we are slow to open the purse, and we complain that we don’t have time to spend in a quiet time, much less church. Never mind that our treasure and talents are stored for our benefit and good.
Does that make us wise or foolish?
Why don’t we in this Christmas season make an effort to pursue Jesus our King rather than pursue gifts and parties. Spend some time in scripture, pray more, and get to church. Why don’t we, this year, make more of an effort to explain to friends and family what we believe? How about going out of your way to praise Him? How about blessing someone else this Christmas with gifts that are precious to you: time, money and abilities? How about going the extra mile, the wise men travelled over 900 miles to bless the King, because our Lord has blessed us with salvation.
Lord, help me to be mindful in worshiping you this Christmas. To remember again the salvation that you provided by coming to earth to die on the cross for me. Help me to bless Your Name for Who you are and not all the blessings I receive from you. Help me to bless others with the treasures you have given me and to use my treasured possessions to bless you name.