Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: The wise men were wise because they followed the star to Jesus...and so can we.

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, wise men came from the East to Jerusalem seeking him and inquiring, "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?"

Who were these wise men ... where did they come from ... and where did they go?

Other than a brief appearance in Matthew's Gospel, we do not hear anymore about them in Scripture.

Frankly, we don't know exactly who they were, where they came from or what happened to them. Although we can't answer these questions with historical accuracy, much research has been done on them and many legends and traditions

have been developed about them.

According to some, they were kings; some suggested they were priests; some proposed they were scientists or astrologers; while others claimed they were scorcerers or magicians. One commentator suggested that the "Magi," a term which were translate as wise men, were descendants of an ancient tribe of people known as Medes who were part of the old Persian Empire. At one time the Medes had aspirations of overthrowing the Persians and establishing their own empire.

However, they had long given up their ambitions for power and prestige and

had become an order or tribe of priests. They were, in Persia, what the Levites were in Israel. Like Daniel and to a certain extent Joseph, the Magi were regarded as men of holiness and wisdom who advised and instructed kings. As trained and proficient holy men, they interpreted dreams and offered sacrifices to God. As teacher-priests, they were skilled in medicine and the sciences, as well as philosophy.

In their quest for truth, the wise men studied the stars. They knew that the stars never varied in their courses as they made their way across the heavens.

The same pattern that the stars follow now is the pattern that Adam and Eve observed when they looked up at their first starlit sky in Paradise.

For the wise men, the stars represented the unbroken order of the universe. They believed that a person's destiny was governed by the star under which he or she was born. Thus, if the unvarying order of the heavens was disturbed by the sudden appearance of some unusually bright star, they would naturally conclude that God was breaking through creation and order and announcing something special.

We don't know what star the wise men saw. We just know that as they watched the starlit heavens, some peculiar heavenly brilliance spoke to them about the entry of a special person, a king, into the world. This king was so special that he had his own star. None of the kings that they had known had their own star.

Not Darius, or Cyrus, or Nebuchadnezzar, not any of the Egyptian Pharaohs, nor any of the Roman Caesars, not even David or Solomon or any of Israel's other kings had their own stars. In the midst of heaven's unbroken pattern of stars that had been the same since the dawning of time, a new star appeared to announce the arrival of a new king. In their search of the ancient scriptures,

they were led to Palestine. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea

in the days of Herod the king, 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."

Why were these wise men so wise? Based upon the number of gifts presented to the Christ child, tradition has established the number of wise men who came seeking the newborn king to be three. Now there were many more than three wise men in the ancient world. Something as prominent as a new bright star in the heavens could not be hidden. Other wise men of that time who customarily studied the heavens also, undoubtedly, saw this star. The star which the wise men saw in the East may have even been visible to those who lived in Palest(eye)ne.

I don't know how Palestinian wise men missed it, unless they had simply failed to look up. Maybe there were so busy contending with things around them that they forgot to look up.

Maybe they were so busy complaining to Caesar, watching their backs for the next trick from Herod, plotting against Pilate, or working on each other, that they failed to look up and see the same star in the same heavens that the wise men saw in the East.

No matter what happens around us or to us, it pays to look up sometimes. I read about a fellow who saw an old hog standing under an oak tree gobbling up acorns

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