What the Kings Knew

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January 6th is celebrated in many parts of the world as Three Kings Day. It commemorates the arrival of the Magi in Bethlehem.  While we generally include the wise men in our Christmas story, the truth is that these men (perhaps not three at all) arrived sometime after the birth of Christ and set in motion one of the most terrible events in Biblical history.

But let’s back up a little. The Magi arrived in Jerusalem looking for the king foretold by the star they had been following (Matthew 2:1, 2). Of course, they thought that everyone would know what they were talking about. After all, shouldn’t the birth of a king be public knowledge?

When the news came to King Herod’s ears “...he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him” (2:3). It’s understandable why Herod was concerned, less so why the people of Jerusalem were bothered by a few strangers looking for a young child. In any case, Herod consulted his experts.

And here’s the rub; “When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. ‘In Bethlehem of Judea,’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written...’” (2:4, 5).

They knew, but because they hadn’t been looking for the Christ, they had missed what the Magi had come so far to find. It was given to foreigners to find what God’s own people had stopped looking for.

This whole episode reminds us that even though God’s primary mission at this point was to rescue His chosen people, He was, at the same time, signalling a time when the Gospel would be for all people—including some Magi from the far east.

It also reminds us that God’s people—us—are sometimes not the ones to whom spiritual truth is revealed. When we stop looking for Him—as we often do—He finds others who are looking and shows Himself to them. When we stop doing His will, He will accomplish His purposes through other means.

Wise men never stop looking, never stop listening, never stop asking, until they find what God has promised.

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