Wise Men from the East
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, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:
‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ”
Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”
When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way. (Matthew 2:1-12)
What a surreal scene this would have been. In a smallish town, in a stable or something similar, living a couple and their infant son. For the passerby a somewhat unnoticeable family maybe, and yet hidden in their hearts a great promise. With all the amazing incidents that happened around the time of the child’s birth now some time ago, in reality, you wonder what even they now think. And yet, in this moment, comes such a wonderful reminder of the destiny of this royal child.
For in walks three men of mystery and wealth. In fact, the Lord God sent the three wise men (Magi) who are also three kings from a distant country (revealed in being able visit King Herod, and also in the Bible, e.g. Ps. 72:10-15; Is. 60:6,7) to brings signs from heaven….and breath fresh hope and wonder in to their live. How we too need that sometimes, the unexpected, mysterious visitors, bearing gifts of hope. Thank you God you send these messengers.
In essence though, this part of the story is one of five kings. The three mystic kings, probably descended for the royalty of the kingdom of Babylon and beyond, schooled in the ancient prophecies of the eternal King who would assume the throne of David, by prophets of old. Of course, there is Herod, the desperate royal, clinging to power, and fearful of any threat, aware of the tales of the King of the Jews. And finally, the Child King Jesus, the ruler of all, and yet fully confident in His place, to the point of vulnerability as a small child apparently trusting Himself the care of two first time parents.
The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all— that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:36-43)
The elephant in the room, if you like, that they could all perhaps know implicitly or explicitly, was that this child King was so much more than they were anointed to be. That is, ‘He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead’, and the King of kings.
This would of course send shivers down your spine if you did not know Him, and clearly this was the case for Herod. The gifts from the three kings perhaps revealing they were aware of the authority He carried, and maybe also this other part of who else He was, ‘To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.’ Conscience also I am sure were these kings, Mary and Joseph, that this Judge is the good gift of God.
So it is that we to come to meet again this Christmas the King who is the Judge, our gift from God. Many fear this part of Him, hiding in their sin and darkness, for fear of what a judge would do if they caught up with them. Perhaps like Herod fearing that which they do not know. And yet, in truth, it is in the knowing of Christ when we not only receive the gift of mercy and freedom from our wrongs, but also the pardon from the Judge of all.
Let us pray for the Holy Spirit’s anointing to be able to reveal to those all to aware of there sins and failings, that there is the One King (whose judgement trumps all others), the sacrificial Lamb, the lover of their souls, who does indeed Judge the living and the dead, and earnestly seeks to pardon our sins. A by His gift of grace, the gift of our Heavenly Father, so they to can know Him by faith, and receive the royal pardon…and become the living.
And let us also walk in the love and fear/awe of God, for Christ cannot deny Himself, and comes to fulfil His promises and destiny. Our response, to love Him, and our neighbours, watch for Him, to walk in obedience and humility before God, and to make known the mystery of this King of kings to those hiding in darkness…even the tribes and nations. And we must hurry, for time is running out..for us all.
The Son of Man Will Judge the Nations
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. (Matthew 25:31-33)