17: Making Sense

We spend our lives trying to understand the world, to discover it’s vastness and it’s limits, to answer every question we can conjure and to search for more questions. We want meaning, we crave it, and we try to satisfy that craving with anything that can distract us for a moment; but when we are left in the quietness of our own thoughts we search, we search desperately for our purpose. This is nothing new, it is in fact my favorite part of the Christmas story: the Wise Men.
Though the story of the wise men only occupies 14 verses and only Matthew mentions them, they reveal such a crucial part of the truth of Christmas, we must have recognized this, considering they appear in every manger scene.
Before I begin, allow me to clear up a few common (but harmless) misconceptions, because well, I think it’s interesting. There were not three, well, to be more precise, there could have been three, but we don’t know. We know there were more than one, because they are mentioned in plural, the most likely reason the number three was chosen was because they brought three gifts: gold; frankincense; and myrrh, but there could have been two, or twenty. There is nothing that implies that they are kings; though there is no doubt they were highly regarded, the gifts they brought imply great wealth, and king Herod spoke with them when they arrived in Jerusalem. What we do know is that they were astrologers: priests of a highly regarded practice, with great wealth, who travelled for two years to meet a child; the star that led them to Jesus appeared at his birth, and they arrived to meet him in Bethlehem two years later, so the manger scene isn’t really accurate at all, Jesus was no longer in swaddling clothes when they arrived, but most likely walking.
Now that we have an accurate picture, we can move on to the important part, why it mattered. These men from the East, who no doubt spent their lives studying the stars to find meaning, to find the truth and to understand their existence, they found their answer, the stars led them right to Jesus. They travelled two years to meet him, and when they saw him, this child of about two, they “fell to the ground and worshiped him” and gave him gifts that would be given to the highest honored king. They didn’t give their gifts to Herod when he met with them, they gave them to a toddler. Why? Why would they do something so absurd, grown men of great honor bowing before a little kid? Because they had been searching for truth, essentially for God because he is truth, and they found him, and they knew they had, and so they gave him the honor he deserved. They recognized he was the one true King, the Maker of the cosmos. Jesus made everything make sense, because all things were made by him. Those wise men really were wise, because they saw Jesus for who he really is, the King of kings.

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