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, 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.”
The story of the coming of the magi to worship the newborn King is one of the most familiar and constant components of our celebration of the miraculous birth of the Savior. Interestingly, it is found in only one of the Gospel narratives, the book of Matthew. We traditionally see the wise men assembled around the manger in our modern displays, but the story clearly states, “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 . . .” Jesus was likely approaching two years old at the time of their arrival in the court of King Herod. Matthew doesn’t tell us how many wise men came; we can only count the gifts that were mentioned.
Remember that the book of Matthew is the Jewish-focused Gospel account. A Jewish King being born, and being visited by nobility from afar was a fitting tribute for the occasion, and a point with which the Jewish listeners could connect. We love the camels and the manger scene, but the coming of the magi was a death sentence for perhaps hundreds of young Jewish toddlers. What more stark of a contrast between light and darkness can be found than in the worship of Jesus by a small collection of the wisest men on the planet and the fury of the evil one and the evil heart of a self-centered tyrannical ruler?
The coming of Jesus continues to create that divide. Those who long for peace and good will to all men love the arrival of the Prince of Peace and fall down to worship Him. And this leads to life! Those who fear losing their self-controlling grasp of life fear Him. And the outcome of their own stubbornness always leads to death. Let us be wise and love His coming. Celebrate by giving gifts and seeing the light and life that always surrounds the One who is truly King of Kings.
Father, grant us true wisdom to love the coming of the King and compassion for those who are afraid to let go of the darkness. As we give gifts to those that we love, help us to see that true Love was perfectly encapsulated in a Baby born in a manger. Allow us to flee from evil as did Joseph, Mary and Jesus who fled the evil intent of King Herod. Thank You that evil cannot last, but Love lives forever!