“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 have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him (Matthew 2:1-2, NKJV).’”
I have fond memories of a nativity scene my mom displayed at Christmas. Most people are familiar with the nativity scene, but what I didn’t know as a child was that my mom like perhaps many others, had never read the verses in the Bible that inspired the nativity scene. Arguably, very few people know the actual biblical account of our Savior’s birth and the visit from the wise men.
Regarding this latter point, we have no reason to believe that the wise men were present when our Lord was born or that there were three wise men who came to see Jesus. The Bible is silent about how many wise men made the journey, but there are other details about these men that are recorded for us and I want to touch on two of those details.
The first is how Jesus’ birth fulfilled a significant prophecy in the Old Testament. The second is in regard to the gifts the wise men brought to Jesus and His parents.
The Wise Men Fulfilled Prophecy
Everything we know about the ‘wise men’ comes from the Gospel of Matthew 2:1-12. We know that Matthew’s gospel was written with a strong emphasis on Jesus as King of the Jews. As the coming Messiah it was imperative that He fulfill all the prophecies in the Old Testament. The arrival of the wise men who followed the star to find the place where He was born was one of the prophecies that had to be fulfilled.
This is what we read in Numbers 24:17:
“…A Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel…”
This is a very significant messianic prediction that was fulfilled in Jesus who was born King of the Jews in Bethlehem some 2,000 years ago. Later prophecies tell us that King Jesus would be rejected by His people and that His first mission would be to die on a cross to pay our sin debt as foretold in Isaiah 53.
Of course, we all know that Jesus will return a second time as King of kings and every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).
As it happens, early in January we will continue our study through Numbers on Sunday evenings at RMCC. We will look at the account of Balaam and his prophecy about Jesus and consider how God meant for people to be anticipating the birth of Jesus.
Now, 2,000 years later, God means for us to be anticipating the return of Jesus. As the song says, ‘When we all see Jesus, what a day of rejoicing that will be! When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!’
Amen! Come Lord Jesus!
The Gifts of the Wise Men
The gifts the wise men brought were gold, frankincense and myrrh.
We’re told that:
• Gold represents royalty – Jesus was and is King of kings;
• Frankincense represents divinity – Jesus is God the Son, and
• Myrrh speaks of death – He would die for our sins.
Now, the wise men may not have had the deeper meaning of these gifts in mind when they gave these gifts to Jesus, but God had them in mind for us as we consider the life, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior.
It’s noteworthy that the gifts given by these wise men had a very practical application for Jesus and His parents. These gifts were used to sustain the royal family through their journey to Egypt (Matthew 2:13).
The Gifts We Give This Christmas
As we give gifts to each other this Christmas may they have great meaning, both practically but also spiritually! Spiritually? Yes, may our gift giving be motivated by our desire to help loved ones grow in their own appreciation of the ultimate gift that Jesus offers all people – eternity in heaven forever!
“How does that work?” you might ask. The answer is, “Very simply!”
Christmas gifts are largely motivated by tradition and a desire to show love to family and friends. But beyond that noble motivation, our gifts, as believers, should be motivated by a desire to worship the Lord and to inspire glory to God from those who receive our gifts.
In his account of the birth of Jesus, Matthew tells us that the gifts were given as a part of the wise men’s worship of Jesus (Matthew 2:11). What about our gift giving? What is our motivation for giving gifts at Christmas? Let’s purpose in our hearts to want our gifts to become a means by which people give God the glory He deserves.
Beyond that, are there gifts we can give Jesus today?
Father, this Christmas I desire to have the same spirit that was on the wise men who journeyed to see Your Son and to worship Him, including with their gifts. Show me, Father, how I might worship King Jesus with my time, talent and treasure this Christmas season. In Jesus’ Name!
Merry Christmas everyone! May the story of the wise men make us all a little wiser concerning our walk and relationship with Jesus.
Written by Pastor Bruce Daze