Summary: The reason the wisemen knew so much about Christ and Christmas was because Daniel was the Chief of the Magi (Wisemen) hundreds of years earlier.
[This sermon is contributed by Hal Seed of New Song Church in Oceanside, California and of www.PastorMentor.com. Hal is the author of numerous books including The God Questions and The Bible Questions. If you are interested in The Bible Questions Church-wide Campaign, please visit and watch Hal’s video at www.PastorMentor.com.]
“Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men.” – Daniel 2:48
For 3 billion people, the birth of Jesus is one of the most important celebrations of their entire year. In churches in every country on this planet, people gather to worship the child who became the Savior of the world. In many of those 3 billion homes, a family will set up a little manger scene somewhere in their house. There will be a grouping of figurines with Mary and Joseph and Jesus, some angels, a few shepherds, and some wise men. When you think about that scene, it makes sense for Mary and Joseph to be there; they‟re the parents. Having the angels there makes sense, since they‟re the messengers of God. The shepherds are there because they‟re the invited guests of the angels. Everybody there makes sense… except the wise men. Where did the wise men come from?
Their story is told in Matthew 2:1-12:
¯After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, 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 in the east and have come to worship him."
"When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people‘s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. ’In Bethlehem in Judea,‘ they replied, for this is what the prophet has written: ¯‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel."
"Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ’Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.’"
"After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route."
The wise men are the mystery guests of the Christmas story. I want to let you in on the mystery, because if you can understand the wise men, (who they were and why they came), then you will understand what has happened to our world as a result of the coming of the Christ child.
Who were the Wise Men?
1. They were court advisors to the King of Parthia.
2. They were descendents of the Babylonian wise men.
Here’s a map that might help you:
At the time of the birth of Christ, the two most powerful empires in the world were the Roman and the Parthian Empires. The Romans had conquered the Greek Empire and taken over the western territories won by Alexander the Great. The Parthians had conquered the eastern lands, the former Persian Empire, previously ruled by the Babylonians. All three eastern cultures – Parthian, Persian, and Babylonian, had similar court structures and customs, with a king counseled by a group of priestly-cast wise men.
About sixty years before the birth of Christ, the Romans defeated the Parthians for control over what we call the Ancient Near East. This land mass includes Israel, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem. The Christmas story took place only a few hundred miles from the Parthian borders. Parthia’s capital changed locations several times throughout its history. Most likely, the wise men came from the capital city, somewhere towards the northern part of the Empire. How did they know about Jesus? How did these advisors to the king of Parthia know that an important king was going to be born to the Jews? In order to understand this, you have to know something about Jewish, Babylonian, and Persian history.