12. Wise Men

Christmas Threads Meditations: Thread 12: Wise Men

Mt 2:1,2  Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

(Additional Reading: Mt 2:1-12)

Preparations: Contrasts: black and white, chalk and cheese, shepherds and wise men, angel guidance and stellar guidance, humble adoration and gifts of wealth. The shepherds have come and gone, the little family move from the inn to a house and time passes and it looks like that is it. They will be here until the days of Mary’s purification (as it was called) have passed (Lk 2 & Lev 12:1-4 – forty days) and they can present the child to the Lord in the Temple in nearby Jerusalem. The timing of the arrival of the Magi is not clear but may have been in this waiting time or after – but they turn up without any warning.

God of Surprises: The fact of the matter is that these three (perhaps more) Magi, ‘Wise-men, ‘kings’, call them what you will, had started on their journey weeks if not months before. Do you see the significance of all of this? There are four amazing things about this.

First, they had been getting guidance, God had been preparing them, weeks if not months beforehand and Joseph and Mary knew nothing of God’s provision that was on the way. Provision?  Yes, they brought at least three gifts, very expensive gifts,  gifts that could be traded in for money which could then be used for whatever needs this little family had. They were well provided for by God.

Second, take note of another factor here – these were not Jews, not their own people, these were foreigners, probably from somewhere in the area of Mesopotamia, the place of God’s original provision (the Garden of Eden), the place that had subsequently flourished and has been called the ‘cradle of civilization’. This is God providing for them from a means that was beyond their wildest dreams. But isn’t it so often like that with God? He provides for us when we are not expecting it and He provides for us by means we could never have thought about but then, as Abraham found out, He is the Lord who will provide (Gen 22:14), God the Provider.

Third, the Lord is not fussy about who He will use. Preachers often say if God could use Balaam’s ass to speak to him, the prophet, He can use anyone to bring His word (Num 22:28) but as much as we may laugh at that, deep down we’re not very sure of that. But now here we have men who get their guidance by following a star, a star they are convinced that will lead them to find the new ‘king of the Jews’ who is someone way more important that a normal earthly, human king, one who deserves their worship. And how do they get all this from a star? I don’t know; perhaps the star was just the starting point.

Fourth, they are echoing history. We may not know how they got their guidance but somehow or other, like that other beginner with God (Abram), they ‘heard’ God and so probably traveled much the same route as Abram (but not diverting to Haran) all those centuries before.

And So? Applying these things to our own lives, we might ask the following questions:

– are we open to both poor and rich alike – without prejudice?

– do we know the Lord as the God who provides for us?

– does our faith rely on a God who is not bound by what we can only see?

– are we open to the Lord to speak to us through those who are not part of ‘my group’?

– do we realize that what happens today will be a repeat of what God has done perhaps many times before?

Let’s Pray: “Father, thank you that no one is beyond your love. Help me to have the same heart please. Thank you that you are a Provider. Please help my eyes to be opened to see that provision. Lord, please take my eyes – and my limited vision – off the things immediately around me, so that you may enlarge my vision to be able to see your working in this world. Amen.”