And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11 ESV)
Possibly more so than any other aspect of the story of Christ’s birth, the wise men are incredibly misunderstood.
First, they are often called the three kings or wise men but the actual word is magi (from which the word magic derives). We might even go so far as to call them astrologists, religious observers of the sky.
Second, though they brought three gifts, there is no indication as to their number. There might have been two or a dozen; we simply do not know.
But here is most the crucial question regarding them: why are they significant to the story of Christ’s birth?
I believe the answer is found in God’s promise to Abraham.
The LORD told Abraham that his offspring would be a blessing for all nations of earth. Coming from the east, the story clearly presents the Magi as foreigners, as non-Israelites.
Yet despite not being from the chosen people of God, the Magi sought after Jesus, heard and believed the Word of God, obeyed God instead of man, and ultimately worshiped Jesus.
In fact, by defying Herod’s command to return to him, they revealed that they valued Jesus’ kingship over Herod’s. The Magi were Gentiles who came to worship their King (though it was a great expense to them), which is a sign of how the gospel would soon go forth into all the earth and all people.
How is the miracle of the Magi coming to worship Christ similar to when you first believed the gospel?