Silence: Take a moment to get still and ask God to center your heart on him.
Scripture: 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,11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:1,10-11)
Devotional: In almost every Christmas story I ever heard growing up the “3 Wise Men” always made an appearance. However, have you ever asked yourself, “Who were these wise men?”, “How do we know there were three of them?”, or “Were they really present on the night of Jesus’ birth?”
It’s true that most of what we know about the “3 wise men” are simply the stuff of legend. It has been said that there were three wise men, but no actual number was given. Yes, there were three gifts given, but that doesn’t necessitate 3 gift givers.
Others say they were “3 Kings of the Orient” whose names were Melchior, Balthasar, and Caspar. Again, no proof that they were kings and we don’t know what their names were.
Lastly, most of the time these wise men show up on the night of Jesus’ birth. In a study of the text it would seem that this is not the case. Many commentators point out that the wise men go into a “house”, not a stable. Second, most would argue that the wise men didn’t show up to meet Jesus until up to two years later!
Pastor J.C. Ryle once wrote that since the Biblical record says little about WHO these men were, perhaps the focus should be upon WHAT they did.What can we learn from what these wise men did.
- Diligence in seeking God – These wise men diligently sought out Jesus. They traveled from great distance, seemingly spent an enormous amount of time and finances to get there. How often do we give up early in our seeking of God through prayer, study of the Word, or any other spiritual discipline? It would serve us well to be more diligent and disciplined in our pursuit of God.
- Worshipped Him in faith – The story says they fell down and worshipped this child. These men “from the east” wouldn’t have had much teaching or knowledge about the Messiah, but still they worship him. This is an example of great faith. Jesus says in John 20:29, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” We will be called blessed if we worship Jesus in faith, even those we have not seen him.
- Radical Giving of Resources – “Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” These wise men gave their resources to the King. We are called to do the same thing. Romans 12:1 says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” We are called to give our energy, time, money and our bodies to worship God because they are all his to begin with and ours to steward appropriately.
So even though we might not know a lot about WHO these wise men were, we do know WHAT these wise men did. Let us be as diligent in seeking God, worshipping Jesus in faith, and radically give of our resources.
Question: Which of the three lessons from the wise men can you most work on in the upcoming year?
Action: Pick one area you want to grow in in 2017 (diligence, faith or generosity) and write out an action plan on how you will live it out.
Prayer: Father, thank you for the example of the wise men. They diligently pursued Jesus, worshipped him in great faith and radically gave of their resources. I pray that I would do the same this upcoming year. Amen.