Summary: The visit of the Magi piques our curiosity but also reveals the importance of honoring Jesus Christ — no matter how much effort it takes.
The Magi Surface
1. Some people think the Bible teaches that the fruit Adam and Eve ate in the Garden was an apple….. probably a fig. Most of us know the Christmas narratives fairly well, but we often assume things that the text does not actually say.
2. Lin Smalec writes, "I read recently about a children’s Sunday School class that heard the Christmas story and sang the beloved Christmas carol, “Silent Night”. They were then asked to draw what they thought the nativity scene might have looked like. One little fellow did a good likeness of Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus, but off to the side was a roly-poly figure. The teacher, thinking that the boy had somehow worked Santa Claus into the scene, asked him who that was. She wasn’t sure whether she was relieved or even more worried when the boy responded, "Oh, that’s Round John Virgin!"
3. Most people on the street have a conception of what the Bible teaches about the Magi, but their imagery does not come from the Bible. It is a result of questionable guesswork, hymnology, and ancient assumptions.
4. Today, we are going to focus on the Magi. The good news, of course, is that even if you believe they were three kings, the main lesson of their trip is not lost. They were wealthy, powerful men who traveled an inconvenient distance to honor Jesus.
Main Idea: The visit of the Magi piques our curiosity but also reveals the importance of honoring Jesus Christ — no matter how much effort it takes.
I. Who Were the MAGI? (1)
A. Their NUMBER
In the second century, a church father named Tertullian suggested that these men were kings because the Old Testament had predicted that kings would come to worship him. He also concluded that there were three kings based on the number of gifts mentioned, gold, frankincense and myrrh.
B. Their CLASS
1. The term could be general: Several godly men belonged to a caste of people known as Magi, or Wise Men. One appears in Genesis, Jacob’s son, Joseph, who served the Pharaoh. Balaam, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would also have been considered Magi.
2. The term could be specific: Lambert Dolphin writes:
“The ancient Magi were a hereditary priesthood of the Medes (known today as the Kurds) credited with profound and extraordinary religious knowledge. After some Magi, who had been attached to the Median court, proved to be expert in the interpretation of dreams, Darius the Great established them over the state religion of Persia…
“It was in this dual capacity, whereby civil and political counsel was invested with religious authority, that the Magi became the supreme priestly caste of the Persian empire…
One of the titles given to Daniel was Rab-mag, the Chief of the Magi…Daniel apparently entrusted a Messianic vision … to a secret sect of the Magi for its eventual fulfillment…
… both the Persian and the Jewish nation had … regained their independence: the Jews under Maccabean leadership, and the Persians as the dominating ruling group within the Parthian Empire.