“When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.” (Matthew 2:9) Part of our Christmas story recounts Jesus being visited by travelers from the east, who had been led to worship Him by a brilliant star. We are used to seeing them as part of our Nativity sets and singing “We Three Kings” on Epiphany Sunday when we celebrate their visit. To be honest, we don’t know how long after Jesus’ birth their visit occured. We aren’t even sure how many there were. As with many bible lessons, those details aren’t the important part of the story, and we need to avoid being distracted by the questions of “when and how many”.
The essential part of this scripture is that God led these people, whoever they were, to find Jesus and recognize Him as the king that had been promised. These were rich and powerful people by all accounts, quite different than the shepherds who visited Jesus on the night He was born. They also were foreigners, Gentiles – not part of the nation of Israel and not members of the Jewish faith. Why did God invite these people?
God used the witness of these wealthy visitors from far away to teach us that Jesus was born for all – rich and poor, humble and powerful, Jew and Gentile. Yes, much of Jesus ministry focused on the poor and He taught that God was concerned about them; however this passage tells us that God was concerned about the wise and wealthy as well, that they too had a part to play in His eternal plan. The gifts they presented to Jesus also had a special significance: gold as treasure for a king; frankincense as a royal fragrance; and myrrh, a spice used to prepare a body for burial. All of these were appropriate for Jesus, our king, our savior and our sacrifice.
Heavenly Father, we don’t always understand the lessons You have given us. Help us to keep listening, studying and learning Your plan for us through Your word. May we continue to seek Your truth to share with all our brothers and sisters. Guide us to Your perfect light.