On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream no to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
As I began to write this article, I was interrupted by an announcement on the news that the Atlanta International Airport had endured a fire that rendered the entire airport in a state of darkness for nearly 24 hours. Imagine – a week before Christmas – the heaviest traveling season of the year. Thousands of travelers stranded in our nation’s busiest airport with no electricity. Abandoned totally in darkness, unable to move!
I am reminded of travelers from the east who followed a star in search of a new king. These Magi or Wise-Men were led by that star into the city of Jerusalem – and asked King Herod where they might find the child who was born to be a king. After consulting with his priests and scribes, Herod sent the Magi to Bethlehem, the location said to be the birthplace of such a king. When they came upon the Christ-child, it was as if they were being welcomed into a warm, bright light, after a long trip in the cold darkness. They did not question the simple, austere environment within which this young king was born. They were satisfied that they had contact with someone whose life would forever change the world. And they worshipped and adored him.
When you take into consideration that these noble Magi were known to be learned people, it is amazing to think that with all their combined knowledge they were willing to undertake such a long journey. This indicates that they had not yet found the wisdom for which their hearts so desired. Why else would they have taken such a dangerous and long trip, if not for the need to satisfy a hunger that all the world’s wisdom had not yet come to know?
We typically tell the story that there were three gifts and thus only three Magi. There could have been many who undertook this adventure. Gold is a gift for kings. Frankincense was the only incense allowed on the temple altar. Myrrh was used mostly as a perfume, but it was also used in the embalming process. They were perfect gifts for a king who was also a priest who had come to die.
The fact that they worshipped a toddler king illustrates that in him, they found all for which they had been seeking. This toddler who could not yet speak, was in fact, the Word made flesh, and simultaneously the Wisdom (Sophia) of God. The wisest men in the world recognized it and fell to their knees.
Nearly two millennia later, I wonder what our reactions might be if we were to happen up on the King of all the universe. Perhaps – in a darkened airport, frightened, and not knowing whether you’ll see your loved ones for the holidays. Oh sure, you might rejoice when the lights come on, but how many of us would give thanks that Jesus, the bright Morning Star, not only illuminated an airport for weary travelers to complete their journeys, but constantly invites us into relationship of light and love with God and all of God’s children.
Jesus came to save us from sin and death by giving of his own life for our sake, and for the sake of the Gospel. And that is incredibly brilliant … something that just cannot be hidden in darkness. Jesus is the light of the world. Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
In Christ’s name,