I’m a lot like my mom when it comes to telling jokes. She’d often forget the punchline as do I, but she relayed a good one several years back, regarding the wise men of the Epiphany.
When on vacation in the south during the Christmas season, a young couple couldn’t help but notice the number of Nativity Sets displayed in front of the homes. It seemed strange to see them in a tropical place, but I guess that’s where this event occurred in the first place. As they continued driving, they saw something that puzzled them. Each of the wise men was wearing a fireman’s hat. Curiosity got the best of them so they finally stopped and went to one of the homes to ask about the hats. A kind woman answered the door and her reply in typical Southern drawl, was, “We’re just following what it says in the Good Book. It’s right there in black and white. Men from the East came from afar.”
The story of the Epiphany is a little deeper than that. We’re not told how many men came. We assume it to be three. We know they carried treasures of gold, frankincense and myrrh. These gifts held significance. Gold was a gift suitable for Kings and Jesus surely was a King. Frankincense was the aromatic spice used in the temple to worship God. Jesus was not only man, but God. Myrrh, was used in the burial process and we know that expensive spices were used to bury the body of Jesus after His vicious crucifixion.
The Magi were men of science who studied the stars. They’d seen the star of Bethlehem and it indicated to them that a king had been born. They also knew the ancient prophesies concerning the King who would be born from the lineage of David – the promised Messiah – the divine King who would save His people.
It took some time to get there – maybe as long as two years. When they arrived in Jerusalem they went straight to Herod and asked where they could find this new King. Herod set the next events into motion by asking for directions to see the child, so he could worship Him too. What this evil man was mulling over in his mind was the elimination of all firstborn sons in Jerusalem who were two years old or less. He wasn’t about to let another king take away what he’d worked so hard to establish. That and the fact that he had no qualms about destroying innocent lives.
We know that the wise men journeyed to a house where they found Jesus with His mother, Mary and step dad, Joseph. The child, born in poverty, came to the world for the poor. Now it’s revealed that He was born for the very rich too – for all people. He was born to save everyone. I think we sometimes forget that.
God isn’t selective in His forgiveness. It’s available to all. His requirements for obeying His law are great – too great for us to handle. Everyone needs a redeemer and Jesus was sent for that very purpose. The poor shepherds in the field knew that as well as the wealthy men who brought their precious gifts to Him. He also came for you and me. He loves each and every one of His creatures and was willing to sacrifice His own life for us. Now that’s enough to light any fire – and it did!
Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the gift of your precious Son. Thank you also for showing us through the visit of the Magi, that you came for all people – rich and poor. The true gift was given to us when you came to earth as a man. Now, by faith – that gift can be opened by all who ask for it. Amen!