Three Wisemen – Really?

I love the story of the wisemen and what they represent. My pastor preached on this story in church this morning and I want to share just a few things he said that really hit home for me.  I think, without a doubt, this  story is a lesson in faith. If you haven’t read it or need a refresher, turn to Matthew 2: 1-12.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

The first thing that jumps out at me is the setting.  Matthew mentions both the time (during the reign of King Herod) and place (Bethlehem) that these wisemen take their journey.  I think this is important because Matthew is reminding us of the humanity of Jesus.  Yes, He is the King of Kings, born to reign forever, but He was also a boy, a toddler, a young child, loved by a mother and father.  Matthew reminds us that Jesus once lived as we live.

I always love a story with great characters.  And this one has a doozy!  King Herod was probably one of the most evil kings in the history of the world.  He had his wife killed, his mother-in-law killed and three of his sons killed because he felt they were a threat to his throne.  He was jealous and overwhelmed with fear.  And just hearing about a small boy who is destined to become a King drives him to insanity!  So, he deceives the wisemen to get them to find the child so he can worship him as well.  He kind of makes Henry VIII look like Gandhi.

How can you tell if someone is deceiving you?  I personally think the three wisemen knew better than to believe Herod, but you never know.  He could have convinced them that he had changed his ways.  Do you think if someone deceives you, they will eventually get caught?  Herod did. During their trip, they find out the truth about his scheme through a dream and realize that they can never go back to Jerusalem.   They must have had some courage, those wisemen!  I would not have wanted to defy Herod and be on the receiving end of any punishment he might have laid out.

But, the most important aspect of this story is the journey itself.  Which brings me to the title of this post. Scholars are really not sure how many wisemen actually traveled to see Jesus.  There were at least three, who are identified as Melchior, Casper and Balthazar, but they could have brought a dozen other men with them. They only know that three gifts were brought.  Gifts that were only given to Kings! Gold, something pure and valuable. Frankincense, a perfume and myrrh, an anointing oil.  Each one symbolizing something in the life of this child’s future.

But, I digress. The journey.  The journey of these wise men reminds me of the journey that each of us takes to find Christ.  We are looking for Jesus, being guided by the bright, shining stars in our life, whether it’s a parent, a friend, a teacher, etc.  It doesn’t happen overnight as I’m sure it took the wise men quite a while to reach their destination.  And just like the wise men, we may stumble, or even fall, along the way.  But, each of us knows that what we are searching for is worth getting back up on our feet and continuing on our way.

And think about it…once they found Jesus, they had to begin a whole new journey, a new life, because they could not go back from where they came. They no longer belonged there.

After all, they had seen the face of God.

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