The Christmas story is awesome… we read it each season and remember with awe of God’s mysterious ways. How he chose to use an innocent teen girl to be the mother of the Christ child. Amazing! The story unfolds slowly and we begin to see how God’s rescue plan involves restoring all that’s wrong with our world by surrendering His son to the care of a young woman and her betrothed and hesitant husband Joseph.
Then onto the iconic nativity scene bursts these unknown wise men, come to see the Christ child from the east. Matthew’s gospel gives us a clear picture of their unusual role… (Biblegateway.com) Matthew 2:1-2 ESV
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
I can’t help but consider that these wise men who “travelled afar” or at least from the east, would have likely been scholars from a university or monastery of some sort. Likely from a serious place of higher learning and probably a depository of great wisdom, like an ancient library. The remarkable point is this. They weren’t part of the immediate religious culture of Israel or an obvious descendent of Abraham, yet they were very AWARE of the Christ child.
ANCIENT DOCUMENT sheds new light on the 3 wise men (Huffington Post) 2011 article. Read this fascinating excerpt for yourself and see the significance of this Vatican archived document that provides us with some rich historical context for the Matthew version of the wise men and Jesus. Super cool – hope you enjoy.
They seemed to be more aware than anyone else on earth (Except Mary and Joseph) of what was happening in Bethlehem. The text from the gospel of Matthew implies these wise men were students of the old texts from Hebrew prophets, written over 700 years prior. They knew about a child to be born, in Bethlehem…when the Rabbi’s in Jerusalem did not.
Imagine packing everything up and making the trip from Asia to Israel with nothing but a “hunch” or “impression” that God was talking to them from an ancient manuscript and a funky new star that no one could fully identify. This trip wouldn’t have been quick or cheap and meant a significant risk for all who undertook it. It meant leaving all that was familiar, welcoming and affirming to them as “wise men” to visit the who-knows-what of an unknown place. They were risking their lives to find a kid – guided by the night sky and some old parchments.
Seems crazy… even foolish for quote “wise” men to do in any era. Yet it’s still what God may be asking of us today. Will we leave behind the familiar, the comfortable and the re-assuring for an “unknown” and uncertain destination? Will we risk everything to go and see if there really is a savior, to find out if God really is here on earth with us?
For some it must have been pure foolishness… but for the ones who made the agonizing trek from another continent over deserts, mountains and through dangerous kingdoms, travelling by camel and on foot, scripture refers to them as “Wise” men.
And so we get to choose ourselves to make the journey or to stay… I hope you’ll take the risk and make every effort to find the Christ child of Bethlehem this Christmas for yourself. I believe it will be the wisest decision you’ll ever make.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from RTP.