Questioning the Magi

Three Wise Men I know it’s a little late to still talk about Christmas, but I’ve been thinking about the 3 wise men and wondering about the details of their story (and Epiphany doesn’t come until Saturday).

What motivated them to come so far? Why did they bring gifts? How did they know that this was the King, and that they really should worship Him? The questions just go on and on.

And referring back to the Bible, there really isn’t much to go on. The story is only in Matthew and is pretty light on the details:

Mat 2:1-2. Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

Why didn’t Luke, the meticulous Gospel writer, even mention the Magi? When reading Matthew, I tend to consider him the one who glossed over details, and yet he’s the only one who even mentioned the Magi in passing.

And yet you can see the desperate passion of these men:

Mat 2:10. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

They were searching and wouldn’t stop until they found the Child King that they sought. They humbled themselves, not looking for acknowledgement for their effort, but laying prostrate before a baby.

Mat 2:11. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him.

Why? I just don’t understand it. How could they know that this Child was what they were searching for? And even when they did find Him, it wasn’t like He had even begun His Task. They left with only a glimpse of God’s promise to humanity. And yet somehow, that was enough.

They were the only Gentiles of the Christmas story. By the revelation of the Holy Spirit, these men, along with Zacharas, Simeon, Anna, the shepherds and the rest, knew that God had given Salvation to the world–not just to the Jews, but to them as well.

And it is in this way that they speak to us, calling us with them to gaze and worship the One, the Promise from God. Their faith and actions (traveling so far, searching so hard, and bowing to worship) are a silent testimony to us that God’s Gift demands our consideration as well.

And even the gifts that they brought stand in testimony to Jesus:

  • Gold – Jesus is the King
  • Frankincense – Jesus is the Priest who is our Mediator to God.
  • Myrrh – Jesus is the Sacrifice who died for us.

I’m grateful that the Magi are part of the Gospel. Though frustrating, they encourage me to trust God even when I don’t see the full picture. They proclaim that there are some things that are worth the risk, and the One we follow, we should pursue with all of our hearts.


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