The Visit of the Magi

It had been a long and difficult journey to the holy city, Jerusalem. The travelers were pensive the last few days, anticipating the encounter with the royal child. This child was born King. Most kings become king by lineage or conquest. But this King was born to be king. Hundreds of years had passed since a king from the line of David sat on the throne in Jerusalem. Could it be so now? The Hebrew holy book and the stars were pointing in that direction.

Suddenly the holy city came into view. The sun glistening off the white stone buildings was almost blinding. As they approached the North Gate, the Magi went into the city while the rest of the caravan cared for their beasts and began to set up camp. The Magi entered the city gate and immediately noticed the Temple Mount to their left. It was as impressive as anything they had ever seen. The top of the holy temple could be seen and evoked a sense of awe. The hustle and bustle of people and beasts made the main street through the city busy and slow going. They made their way to Herod’s palace to inquire about the birth of the royal child.

The guard at the palace gate was curt and took their request to the captain of the guard. He relayed the message to the chief steward of the palace, who rushed in to seek audience with King Herod. When Herod heard the request of the Magi, he was greatly troubled and flew into a rage. The servants in the palace had seen this happen many times and hurried about their business trying to stay clear of Herod’s rant. Word quickly spread throughout the palace and then through the city.

Finally, Herod became quiet and introspective. He then barked orders to send for the chief priests and the scribes. When all the holy men made their way to Herod in small groups, he posed the question that occupied his mind. “Where is the Messiah to be born?” They immediately responded, quoting the prophet Micah, that the Messiah was to be born in the city of Bethlehem in Judah, the city of David. Herod’s eyes began to dance as he schemed what he would do next.

Herod hastily dismissed the chief priests and the scribes and called his chief steward to summons the Magi to meet with him privately. Herod took his time to throughly interrogate the Magi as to the exact time they had first seen the star. Then Herod, feigning piety, instructed the Magi to go search out the child and come inform him, so that he himself could go and worship the child.

In the meetings at Herod’s palace that day concerning the great question of the Messiah’s birth, there were three groups of men each having a uniquely different motivation. First, there was the Magi who came to worship the child born to be king. They had traveled long in their quest to meet this special child. They had a mission from which nothing would hinder them.

Then, there were the chief priests and the scribes. They were the religious leaders of the Jews. Their interest in the question was merely academic. Perhaps they were not informed as to the possibility of the child’s birth. When the child grew up and challenged their traditions, their attitude towards him was very hostile. They had their place and their power and they intended to keep it. Religious people are that way.

Finally, there was Herod. He was known as the king of the Jews. This title had been given to him by Rome. He kept his power and kingdom by cruelty. He would allow no opposition, and especially no other person to be called king of the Jews. His motivation was fueled by hatred and fear, which is a deadly combination of attitudes. Of all the groups of men there that day, it was only to the Gentile Magi to whom the Lord had revealed the Messiah.

The Magi left the great city of Jerusalem, the city of power and manipulation, and traveled south to the sleepy village of Bethlehem, the city of David. Then, suddenly they saw the star they had seen in the east. The star was a guide for them to the very house where the child was. When they saw the star rest over the house, they were filled with a glorious joy. Entering the house, they saw the child with his mother, Mary. At that very moment the long arduous mission of the Magi came to its consummation. With hearts filled with joy and humility they fell down and worshiped the child. They opened their treasure chests and brought out gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. “And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” (Isaiah 60:3)

The divine and supernatural light of the Bethlehem star led the Magi to the child who is the divine and supernatural light of God. The Magi were wise men in the world’s use of the word, but became wise men in the divine use of the word as the light of The Christ Child shone in their hearts giving them the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus. The most important journeys of life always find their destination in Jesus.

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