Posts Tagged ‘three wise men’

Epiphany and the Three Kings

February 25, 2018

January 6 is Epiphany or Three Kings Day.  It is traditionally thought to be the day that the three kings arrived to give their gifts and worship to the baby Jesus.  But is that really the way it happened?

Let us look at the events as told in the Bible. 

We’ll start in the book of Matthew where we are told about the magi.  In chapter two we are told the wise men arrived in Jerusalem from the East.  They asked around for the whereabouts of the One who was born King of the Jews.  As you may suspect this caused an uproar in Jerusalem.  Herod the king was a very suspicious and paranoid king worried that everyone was trying to take his kingdom away from him. 

Herod knew Israel’s Holy Scriptures prophesied about this special Ruler so he called the priests and scribes who knew the scriptures best.  They told him the Baby was to be born in Bethlehem, a small town about five miles from Jerusalem.  Herod then interviewed the wise men.   He found they had been traveling about two years.  We surmise this from the age of the children he killed in Bethlehem

When Herod had all the information he wanted he sent the magi on to Bethlehem.  He wanted them to find the Baby, return to him, and tell him the location of the Baby.  He would then “worship” the Baby, meaning he would kill the Baby.

The wise men traveled on to Bethlehem and, following a star that led them on much of their journey, found the Baby and Mary, His mother, in the house they were staying in.  They gave their gifts to Jesus and worshiped Him. 

We are not told it they stayed in Bethlehem a few days or traveled back home the next day.  We are told that as they slept God told them in a dream to not return to Herod so they took another route back home.

I am sure Herod had many spies.  At least one of them would have told him that the magi left Bethlehem within twenty-four hours of their departure.  Herod was furious that the wise men would defy his order.  Then he sent his soldiers to Bethlehem to kill all baby boys two years old and under.  It would not have taken the soldiers long to cover the five miles to Bethlehem.

Now let us turn our attention to Mary, Joseph, and Jesus (Luke 2).  When Jesus was eight days old He was taken by his parents to the temple in Jerusalem to be circumcised.  After that they waited another thirty-three days.  At the end of the thirty-three days Mary and Joseph brought Jesus back to the temple in Jerusalem to offer a sacrifice for Mary’s purification. 

That is a total of forty-one days after Jesus was born in Bethlehem that He was found in Jerusalem.  If the wise men had already been to Bethlehem and left for home Herod would have known and would have been looking for newborn babies from Bethlehem, but He was not looking for Jesus at this time. 

Therefore, I believe that the wise men did not arrive in Jerusalem or Bethlehem until at least forty-one days and perhaps as long as two years after the birth of Jesus.  The wise men traveled many days to worship the baby Jesus.  They brought gifts. 

They are our examples.  It is not enough to give gifts, to think about Jesus only at Christmas time.  We need to worship Jesus and bring Him the only gift He really wants. Ourselves.

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The Characters of Christmas – Wise Men

December 23, 2012

Of all the characters in the Christmas story the wise men may have the least said about them in the Bible and the most legend about them in stories and song. Here’s what we do know about the wise men based on what the Bible tells us.

First, there was more than one wise man. The Bible says that they were wise “men” plural, but it doesn’t reveal the actual number of wise men. Many say there were three wise men because of the number of gifts recorded as being given to Jesus. Next, we know that they came from the East. How far to the East we do not know. They may have been from Persia or even the orient. The wise men were astrologers; they studied the stars. They knew the stars very well so that when His star appeared they knew what they needed to do.

When they saw the star they left the comfort of their homes to seek out the newborn King of the Jews. They had a basic knowledge of this baby. They knew that He was to be King of the Jews and that He was to be worshiped. That is why they went to Jerusalem, to find where this King was to be born. The Bible does not say that the wise men followed the star they saw from their home to Jerusalem. It just says that they saw the King’s star in the East and came to worship Him.

The wise men caused quite a stir in Jerusalem. No one knew of a newborn King. King Herod, a ruthless and paranoid man, was troubled most of all. Was this another plot to depose him? He decided to play along with the wise men, find out where the baby was to be born, and have the wise men find the baby for him. Then he would destroy this new King. The chief priests and scribes, the experts in the Jewish scriptures, came and told the wise men that the baby was to be born in Bethlehem. Herod told the wise men to look for the baby and to return to tell him where He was so he could go worship Him, too.

When the wise men left Herod’s palace they looked up and once again saw the King’s star. This time the star led them to Bethlehem to the house where Jesus was. Some have speculated that the star was just a lining up of certain planets or a comet. But can a comet or a group of planets way up in the cosmos lead a group of men to a particular town and point out a particular house within that town? Instead the star seems to be a special miracle star that God made expressly for the purpose of showing the wise men where His Son, the newborn King of the Jews, was staying.

The Bible does not say how close to the birth of Jesus the wise men arrived in Bethlehem. However, it is safe to say that it was at least forty days and may have been as much as two years after the birth. We do know that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus left for Egypt to flee Herod after the wise men left, probably the same night. When Jesus was forty days old He was taken to the temple so the wise men could not have arrived before then. We also know that when Herod discovered that the wise men had no intention of telling him where the newborn King of the Jews was he killed every baby in Bethlehem two years old and younger. This may be because the wise men traveled for two years before finding the baby Jesus. The exact time is unknown, but we do know that it was long enough that Joseph found a house for the young family to live in. The wise men never went to the stable.

When the wise men saw Jesus they fell down and worshiped Him; and they gave Him gifts: gold, signifying that Jesus is King of the world (that gold financed the family’s trip to Egypt to flee Herod), frankincense, a present signifying that Jesus is our High Priest, and myrrh, signifying Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross for the sins of mankind.

That night God warned the wise men in a dream not to return to Herod. The wise men obeyed returning to their home by a different route.

God’s Son Jesus was sent to the earth to be the Savior of all mankind. He is the Savior of the common man as shown by His announcement to the shepherds. He is also the Savior of the rich man and the scholar. Jesus is Savior and Lord of all.

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