Matthew 2:1-12, Luis Cruz, GCF Durham
The Nativity Scene display has always been part of the Christmas celebration. Many believed that three eastern looking men who were at the stable, in front of the baby Jesus in the manger, were kings from a faraway land. Is this traditional nativity scene exactly portraying the scene we have in the biblical account? Were they actually three kings who came to see Jesus in a manger? How old was Jesus when they came to see Him? Where did they actually come from? What’s their significance in the Christmas story?
1. Three kings or unnumbered Magi?
“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem.” Matthew 2:1.
The Bible never said that they were kings, much more three kings. They were simply Magi – a plural form of Magus.
Now, the tribe of Magi, was part of the larger tribe called Medes and found in the Ancient Babylon which is today’s Iraq.
Babylon played a significant role in the Old Testament.
King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem in 587 B.C and carried into exile the remnants of Israel. Jer. 52:28-29.
Daniel became the governor of Babylon and met the Magi who were all placed under him. Dan. 2:48-49.
2. Magi or wise men?
“Magi from the east came to Jerusalem…” Matthew 2:1, NIV.
“wise men from the East came to Jerusalem…” Mat 2:1, NKJV.
Magi were astronomers and astrologers. They study the celestial bodies and their movements (or early scientists?).
They were also called magician – the root word is Magi.
Magi were pagan priests.
They attempted to unify their worship under one supreme god – Zoroastrianism was a popular religion within the Medes.
They were also dream interpreters according to Daniel 2:10.
In Matthew 2:12, God warned them in a dream not to return to King Herod who planned to kill the child Jesus.
The Magi could have heard the Word of God through God’s prophet named Daniel.
They were called wise men because they believed God’s prophecy.
3. Followed the star?
“2 We saw his star when it rose…” Matthew 2:2
“10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. Matthew 2:2;10.
The star they saw was a bright light from the sky. The Magi described it as a star because it came from heaven. It could also probably be a quotation from Numbers 24:17 – the prophecy regarding Jesus as a “star” – the Shechinah of God.
Shechinah is the glory of God.
Jesus is the radiance of the glory of God – Heb.1:3.
“9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.” Luke 2:9
They might have seen the bright light of God’s glory from heaven as they were waiting for His coming.
They were wise enough to be in tune with the fulfillment of the prophecy regarding Jesus’ birth as King.
4. Traveled far to merely give gifts or to worship?
“11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11.
The Magi were wise enough to worship and brought gifts to affirm the kingship of the child Jesus.
They found him in a house according to Matthew 2:9.
Jesus was probably not more than 2 years old (see Mat. 2:16) when they found Him in a house with Mary.
What is the true spirit of Christmas? It is worship! And Christmas is a time to share Jesus, invite people to get to know Him, and when they do, they will turn from their ways and worship the true Messiah, the King who promised to love and care for His people.
Credits: Image above from Pixabay