What makes wise men wise?
December 16, 2003
When I think of Christmas time, I immediately shift into thinking about “traditions.” One of the themes woven through a favorite story of mine, Fiddler on the Roof, is how “traditions” are continually challenged. Traditions are not necessarily bad. In fact, many are very good. We developed family traditions in our house with our children. I confess, some of my motives were selfish. I wanted to create an atmosphere around traditions that would attract my kids (and especially grandkids) HOME to MY house at Christmas time. So far, my “traditions” are working! I love Christmas time.
When we reflect on the Christmas story of Matthew Chapter 2, I believe we each start applying “traditions” from our thoughts and culture that may or may not be entirely biblical. When we reflect on the magi who came to Bethlehem , there are many traditions that are certainly extra-biblical.
For instance, we really don’t know how many magi there really were. Scripture is silent on this. It does tell us there were three kinds of gifts. There may have been nine magi who brought gold, four who brought myrrh and 12 who brought frankincense. We just don’t know how many magi came. Neither do we know their names. A Roman Catholic tradition from the 12th Century says their names were Caspar, Balthazar and Melchior. Again, this is pure tradition; there is no scriptural fact to back it up. However, there is much we do know about these men from the Word of God.
Why do we call these magi, “Wise Men?” I would suggest there are several reasons we would call these men — and others who seek the Savior – “wise.”
First, wise men seek the Lord. These magi who came were not at the manger in the stable. They came to Bethlehem to a house (Matt. 2:11 ), not the stable. They came to Jesus sometime between His actual birth and second birthday. We know this because Herod inquired about how long they had followed the star (Matt. 2:7) and when Herod sought to destroy the new KING, he had all boys under two years of age put to death (Matt. 2:16). So these men spent a long time seeking the Lord. They sought Him diligently.
Today, wise men still seek the Lord. Wise men seek Him in scripture. They seek His truth. Wise men seek His blessing. Wise men seek Him daily.
Secondly, we know that wise men serve the Lord. These magi did something interesting. Before even one of them brought their treasure to Jesus, they first presented themselves — and in humility — bowed and worshipped Him (Matt. 2:11 ). After they presented themselves, they offered their gifts. Isn’t that a perfect picture of what the Lord Jesus really wants from each of us? First He wants our hearts. Then — and only then — can we present Him our gifts. Giving is an expression of worship and devotion to Him. When we give, we take things that are treasures to us and present them to Him because He is more valuable to us than treasure. When we give, we are most like God; who “… so loved us that He gave His only begotten Son.” Wise men still serve Him!
Thirdly, wise men share the Lord. Scripture tells us, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he that winneth souls is wise (Prov. 11:30 ).” “… they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever (Dan. 12:3).” Wise men share the Lord with lost people.
Undoubtedly these magi went back to their homes changed by their experience. They surely could not keep quiet about their journey or experience with Jesus. Just like Peter and John in Acts 4:19-20 when they said, “…Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”
This Christmas season, you will probably have someone in your home, office or workplace who does NOT know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Remember, wise men share the Lord. Be sure to share Jesus with them. At the very least put a Gospel tract in their hands. A good source and selection can be found at http://www.atstracts.org. Include tracts with your Christmas cards and in all the gifts you give and wrap. Your mailman will love your banana nut bread and can read the tract about the Savior who died for him — physical bread and spiritual bread in the same gift!
Write me and tell me about the people whose lives you see changed by the Savior.
Jesus IS the Reason for the Season. You are loved!