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Summary: We sing about these wise men, and then rarely act like wise men ourselves? What can we learn from them?

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IN MANY NATIVITY SCENES COMMEMORATING THE BIRTH OF JESUS ONE CAN ALWAYS CATCH A GLIMPSE OF “THE WISE MEN”. WE SEE THEM REPRESENTED ON CHRISTMAS CARDS, WE HEAR AND SING SONGS SUNG ABOUT THEM AND THEIR COURAGEOUS JOURNEY. MOST HOLIDAY SCENARIOS SUGGEST THAT THESE MEN (WHO TRADITION SAYS WERE 3 IN NUMBER) VISITED JESUS WHILE STILL IN THE MANGER. BUT IS THIS WHAT THE BIBLE REALLY TEACHES? MATTHEW IS THE GOSPEL WRITER WHO RECORDS THIS MUCH SPOKEN OF EVENT. BIBICALLY, IT IS FOUND IN OUR TEXT AND SERVES AS A PROCLAMATION SPRINGBOARD FOR THIS MESSAGE TODAY! THIS BIBILICAL REVELATION IS BOTH INTERESTING AND OF PRACTICAL SPIRITUAL VALUE. LETS TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT THESE "WISE" MEN.

I. THERE ARE INTERESTING FEATURES OF THIS STORY.

A. THERE ARE SOME THINGS THAT MATTHEW DOES NOT TELL US.

1. WHO THESE WISE MEN FROM THE EAST WERE?

2. SOME THINK THEY WERE A GROUP OF PRIEST FROM PERSIA. OTHERS BELIEVE THEY WERE ASTROLOGERS FROM BABYLON.

3. YET OTHERS SURMISE THAT THEY WERE JEWS WHO REMAINED IN BABYLON AFTER THE EXILE AND KNEW THE OLD TESTAMENT PREDICTIONS OF THE MESSIAH’S COMING.

4. SOME SAY THEY HAD A SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM GOD DIRECTING THEM TO THE MESSIAH. BUT THE BIBLE RECORDS THEM BEING DIRECTED NOT ONLY TO THE SAVIOR BY A STAR, BUT ALSO BEING DIRECTED OUT OF HARM’S WAY IN RETURNING HOME.

B. HOW MANY WERE THERE? (MYTH VERSUS MYSTERY)

1. PLEASE NOTICE THAT NO ACTUAL NUMBER IS GIVEN.

2. THERE ARE 3 TYPES OF GIFTS MENTIONED IN 2:11, BUT THE QUALITY OF GIFTS DOES NOT NECESSARILY IMPLY THE QUANTITY OF GIVERS. JUST BECAUSE THERE WERE 3 GIFTS, IS NOT A QUALITATIVE FACTOR IN DETERMINING HOW MANY MEN WERE PRESENT. IF THERE WERE 3 WISE MEN OR KINGS AS WE IMPLY IN OUR SONG, WOULDN’T THEY HAVE HAD AN ENTOURAGE OF PEOPLE WITH THEM?

C. WHAT WAS THE NATURE OF THE STAR?

1. WAS IT ACTUALLY A STAR.

2. WAS IT THE PLANET JUPITER, SO OFTEN ASSOCIATED WITH THE BIRTH OF KINGS?

3. WAS IT A CONJUNCTION OF JUPITER AND SATURN IN THE SIGN OF THE FISH?

4. OR WAS IT AN ERATIC COMET.

D. HOW DID THESE WISE MEN CONNECT THE STAR WITH THE BIRTH OF THE KING OF THE JEWS?

1. HAD THEY BEEN TAUGHT BY JEWS OF THE DISPERSION TO EXPECT THE MESSIAH?

2. HAD THEY BEEN GIVEN SPECIAL REVELATION FROM GOD NOT RECORDED IN THE SCRIPTURES? MORE THAN LIKELY, THE FORMER STATEMENT IS SPECULATION SINCE THE BIBLE DOES NOT SAY THAT GOD GAVE THEM SPECIAL REVELATION IN SEEKING JESUS.

II. WHAT LEGENDS HAVE ARISEN OUT OF THIS STORY?

1. WE ARE TOLD THAT THESE WISE MEN WERE THREE KINGS FROM THE ORIENT.

2. WE HAVE BEEN TOLD THAT TRADITION SAYS THEIR NAMES WERE MELCHIOR, BALTHASAR, AND CASPAR

3. THAT THEY VISITED JESUS TOGETHER WITH THE SHEPHERDS ON THE NIGHT OF HIS BIRTH.

A. BUT THEIR VISIT WAS ACTUALLY SOME TIME LATER. APPROXIMATELY 2 YEARS LATER THAT THEY VISITED HIM. MAT. 2:1, 16.

B. THEY VISITED MARY AND THE CHILD IN A HOUSE, NOT A STABLE. MATT. 2:11

C. LEGEND (TRADITION) SAYS THOMAS LATER BAPTIZED THEM.

NOW, HERE ARE THE BIBLICALLY REVEALED FACTS! THE BIBLICAL RECORD SAYS LITTLE ABOUT WHO THESE MEN WERE. PERHAPS BECAUSE THE EMPHASIS IS UPON WHAT THEY DID NOT WHO THEY WERE. THEY DID NOT COME TO SIMPLY BE “REMEMBERED” OR HAVE THEIR NAMES SET IN STONE IN THE HISTORICITY OF JESUS’ BIRTTH. THEY SAID THEMSELVES…. 2:11. “WE HAVE COME TO WORSHIP HIM.”


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