The Wise Men Visit
The years passed by and Mary, Joseph and Jesus probably found a house somewhere to live or rent. They settled into a routine of daily life and Jesus continued to grow. The traditional belief is that Jesus was about two years old when the Magi visited.
Matthew 2:1-3 (ASV)
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, Wise-men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we saw his star in the east, and are come to worship him. And when Herod the king heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
There were more visitors on the way to see the child. They’d seen the star since the time of his birth.
If Jesus was two, as believed, these men had been traveling a long time to see him. We are told they “saw the star in the East” so clearly they have traveled a long way to meet this child.
Thinking this was from the earthly king, they went to visit Herod. Herod was a very jealous man and did not want anyone to take his place. He was troubled when he heard that a King of the Jews had been born.
Matthew 2:7-8 (ASV)
Then Herod privily called the Wise-men, and learned of them exactly what time the star appeared.
And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search out exactly concerning the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word, that I also may come and worship him.
Herod was deceitful, but he knew that he could not tell them the real reason he wanted to know where the child was. He believed these men would fear him enough to give him the information he desired.
Matthew 2:10-12 (ASV)
And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And they came into the house and saw the young child with Mary his mother; and they fell down and worshipped him; and opening their treasures they offered unto him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
The Wise Men finally came upon the star. Why could these men see the star but not others?
Did others see the star? We have no reports, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t. Apparently Herod and his men did not see the star or they would have investigated before the Wise Men appeared.
The men were overcome when they entered the house and saw Mary and the child. We are told that the “fell down and worshiped him.”
The Book of Isaiah, when describing Jerusalem’s glorious restoration, tells of nations and kings who will come and “bring gold and frankincense and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord” (Isaiah 60:6).
The wise men brought three gifts, which is the reason we often believe there were three wise men. However, there could have been many more wise men.
Gold—is used to honor a king. The Wise Men were acknowledging the child as a king and the kingdom they may have expected him to set up on
Frankincense—this incensed is burned in religious ceremonies. This is an offering to Jesus, acknowledging him as God and a deity.
Myrrh—This is a type of anointing oil that is used to anoint a dead body before it is buried. This gift serves as a prophecy to the way he would die.
Think about these lines from the song We Three Kings that describe the gifts:
Gold— Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain Gold I bring to crown Him again King forever, ceasing never Over us all to rein
Frankincense— Frankincense to offer have I Incense owns a Deity nigh Pray’r and praising, all men raising Worship Him, God most high
Myrrh— Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume Breathes of life of gathering gloom Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying Sealed in the stone-cold tomb
The Catholic Encyclopedia states the following:
“The giving of gifts was in keeping with Oriental custom. The purpose of the gold is clear; the Child was poor. We do not know the purpose of the other gifts. The Magi probably meant no symbolism.”
When they departed, God warned them not to return to Herod. We are told they went “another way” to their own country, so clearly they listened to the Lord’s promptings.
Just as the shepherd’s never forgot the sight that morning and shared the news with everyone, we can imagine that the Wise Men also told of all they’d seen and experienced when in the presence of this child.
This made me think. We know of only the Shepherds and Magi visit to the Christ Child. Simeon and Anna saw the infant at the temple when he was eight days old. However, how many other visitors must he have had that we are never told about?
After all we are told the shepherds could not “keep it to themselves.” So clearly others were aware of this special child.
Matthew 2:13-15 (ASV)
Now when they were departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I tell thee: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. And he arose and took the young child and his
mother by night, and departed into Egypt; and was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt did I call my son.
After the wise men departed an angel again appeared to Joseph. He warned Joseph of trouble ahead and to flee with the child into Egypt. The family had to gather the few things they could carry and sneak out in the dead of night. They were headed for a foreign and unknown land.
We know from scripture that Herod did kill all children two years of age and under in Bethlehem. The horror and tragedy this must have been for these families to hold the lifeless body of the lively infant or toddler moments earlier.
Jesus and his parents did escape and after the death of Herod returned to Nazareth, where Jesus continued to grow before beginning his ministry.
Do you heed God’s advice and warnings when he speaks? How do you listen to His voice?
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