“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,”
“Saying, 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” (Matt. 2:1-2).
Every Christmas, the shopping malls will be decked with decorations, particularly, the Nativity Scene. Normally, the Nativity Scene is depicted with Joseph and Mary next to a manger where the infant Jesus was laid. Surrounding the Holy Child are shepherds. Commonly found in the nativity scene are three wise men who brought forth their gifts to worship the King. Is this a true reflection of the Nativity Scene?
I doubt so. First, the wise men were never in the stable together with the shepherds when Christ was born. A period of time had elapsed between the day of Christ’s birth and the time of the arrival of the wise men. Then, the young child Christ was already in a house as compared to a stable where the manger was laid (Matt. 2:11). Thus, it is incorrect to portray the wise men together with the shepherds in the nativity scene. Second, we do not know how many wise men were there – as compared to the common notion of three wise men. Nowhere does the Bible ever mention that there are three wise men, though it may be possible.
The Wise Men
Who were these wise men? They were called magi, and probably by which we get the English word “magician.” Although during ancient times, magicians were actually scientists and philosophers who were well trained in various arts and sciences. In the Persian kingdom, the magi were also seen as priests. Accordingly, they came from the east of Jerusalem. They were likely from Arabia as Arabia is called the land of the east. The presents they brought were products of that country.
How would they have known that Christ was to be born? I do not believe that they were astrologers and predicted the birth of Christ from the constellation. Rather, they were well-versed men who understood the truth of God’s Word brought to them by the Jews who were dispersed unto that land. They were convicted by what they heard and learned and were waiting in expectancy for the Messiah who would come and save the whole world. We must concede that we may not know exactly the nature of these wise men. But one thing is for sure, whatever sort of wise men they were before, now they began to be wise men indeed when they set themselves to inquire after Christ. By simply taking the Holy Scriptures and believing that every word of it comes directly from the mouth of God enabled them to come to full knowledge of Christ and His salvation. This is what the Bible describes as faith. And this is the only one way we can please the almighty God – that is to come to God in faith. For the Bible says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Heb. 11:6). All our good works can never bring us any closer to heaven. The only way we can approach God is through faith in Christ. All good works will be in vain – and they will be like filthy rags in the presence of God (Isa. 64:6). If we come before God in faith, and truly believe He is the God of heaven and earth, and seek Him diligently, like the wise men, I am sure the Lord will reward us according to the measure of our faith.
Brightness of the Star
What made these wise men started their journey was the appearance of an extraordinary star. This star was seen while they were in their homeland. It was unlike anything that they had seen before. The wise men had been waiting expectantly for the birth of the Messiah, the King of Jews. When this star appeared, straightaway, they recognized it as the sign of the fulfillment of the times of this miraculous birth. They packed their bags and began their long journey following the star to seek the King.
But why would the wise men in such a hurry to seek Christ? If such a great king were to be born, they would surely hear of Him shortly even in their own country, isn’t it so? But so impatient were they to worship Christ the King, that they took the long journey to seek Him out above anything else. Here, we learn a lesson on how we ought to seek God. Not only are we to seek God in faith, but we also must seek God in earnestness. Those who truly desire to know Christ, and to seek Him, will not regard inconveniences, pains, or perils in seeking after Him.
It is interesting to note that the birth of Christ was announced to the shepherds by an angel, but to the wise men by a star. God spoke to both in their own language, and in a way they were best acquainted with. Are you seeking God today? Be assured that if you truly seek the Lord in faith, God will reveal Himself to you, in a way that you will recognize that it is from the Lord. What is required of you is to be sensitive to the Lord’s prompting and recognizing that God is speaking to you. Listen attentively to the Word of God, and you will realize that God is directing and leading you to Him. Just like the star which led the wise men to Christ.
And the star indeed led the wise men all the way to Jerusalem, and then it suddenly disappeared. Without this extraordinary guide, the wise men had to inquire diligently from the inhabitants of Jerusalem, asking, “Where is he that is born king of the Jews?” (Matt. 2:2). God used these wise men to proclaim the Messiah’s birth even to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Imagine the whole city was abuzz with the news of a newborn King.
The Joy of Seeking Christ
Eventually, the wise men were led to Bethlehem, the place of Christ’s birth. The wise men fell down and worshipped Christ and presented their gifts to Him. Note the biblical description of the emotion of the wise men when they found Christ, “they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” (Matt. 2:10). It is an emphatic double superlative. Indeed, all those who seek Christ will rejoice and be glad. For all those seek God, God will in no wise turn them away but will fill their heart with unspeakable joy.
Christmas is not merely about the birthday of Christ. It is not the celebration of that day. Rather, it is about God giving His only begotten Son for us. Jesus Christ left His throne of glory around 2,000 years ago and condescended to earth in the form of man for one sole purpose – to reconcile us back to God. Our sin had enslaved us and brought upon us eternal separation from God. Jesus Christ came into this world to live so that He may die for us. He paid the ransom for our sin by dying on the cross for us. He died so that we may live. And to those who seek Him, He will bestow joy and peace. Do you have the joy and peace of God? Be a wise man, and seek Jesus: “Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee” (Ps. 40:16).
Seek Jesus today and you shall find peace and joy in your heart,
This will be the best gift that you can have for this Christmas.