In every nativity scene you’ve ever seen there are most likely figures of Mary and Joseph, baby Jesus, shepherds, maybe some sheep, and—of course—the Three Wise Men. The three wise men are a staple of the Christmas story. Their gold, frankincense, and myrrh prophetically represent the kingship, priesthood, and mission of the Messiah, but these men subtly differ from the other characters that are in our nativity scene.
Firstly we have Mary, who had the news of her impending motherhood of the Christ proclaimed to her by an angel (Luke 1:26-27). Next there’s Joseph, who also had the good news proclaimed to him by an angel (Matthew 1:20). I’m beginning to see a theme here. Then there are the shepherds, who—once again—had the news of Christ’s birth announced to them by… you guessed it! An angel.
Finally we have the Wise Men, who instead of having the news heralded to them by angels and being told to come to Bethlehem, they sought out the Christ.
Lesson #1: Awareness
The Wise Men were not Jews, they were not awaiting a political Savior who would rescue them from oppression (which is what many of the Jews were expecting), they didn’t even live close to Israel, but they were keenly aware of what God was doing on the earth. How easily these men could have missed out on this event and subsequently have been excluded from our Christmas story.
These men are forever included in the greatest story ever told because they were aware enough of God’s plans and purposes to be able to join in what He was doing. How easy might it be for us to miss out on God’s divine plans for our own generation due to a lack of vigilance. Instead of waiting for news of God’s unfolding plans, we should seek out what He is doing, desiring to be a part of the will of God.
Lesson #2: Hunger
Not only were the Wise Men aware of God’s plans, but they desperately hungered to participate in them. As stated earlier, the Wise Men did not live close to Israel. It most likely took them months and months (possibly years) of travel to get to Jesus. It was not enough for them to know what God was doing, but they hungered to do what God was doing!
One of the greatest threats to this generation is not simply the entanglement of sin, but the curse of apathy. It cannot be enough for us to know that God is working; instead, we must hunger to be an instrument that carries out that work.
What are we willing to do to be apart of God’s story? Are we willing to leave our comforts behind, to travel great distances, to pay a steep price? It was the hunger of the Wise Men that placed them in middle of God’s redemptive story.
Lesson #3: Humility
The Wise Men were not men of low status. In order for them to be invited to personally meet with King Herod (Luke 2:7), they must have been men of a high rank. These important men were not seeking a proven ruler or a glorious monarch who could reward them for their gifts and sacrifice, and more than that, they were not seeking a grown man, but a child. They sought a child whose parents were so poor that they couldn’t even afford a lamb for their sacrifice at the temple.
These men left their comforts, they left their home, they laid aside their status, and they came to worship a poor, lowly, Jewish child. Through their gifts they proclaimed that this child was their leader and king, their connection to God as their priest, and their atoning sacrifice as the Lamb of God. They did not question God’s methods or despise how God chose to work; instead, they proved to be more aware of God’s plans, more hungry to be apart of those plans, and more humble than most of nation of Israel—God’s chosen people.
Because of these three attributes, the Wise Men will forever be included in the Christmas story. They will forever be remembered for their gifts and their wisdom. If we will learn to cultivate an awareness of God’s plans, a hunger for God’s purposes, and the humility to do things God’s way, we can be confident that we will be included in God’s story for our own generation.
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