Almost every Christmas pageant includes an appearance by the three wise men who came to see baby Jesus. Of course, by the time they arrived, Jesus was probably a toddler, not a baby. And there might have been two wise men, or five, or more — the account in Matthew 2 just says they brought three kinds of gifts, not how many men actually brought them. But even though some of what we think we know about the wise men is more legend than fact, there is one thing we know for sure: When they saw Jesus “they fell down and worshiped him.” And in doing so, they offer a glimpse of what is to come — a time when all people, not just the Jews, can know and worship God.
John writes in his Gospel that Jesus “came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God …” (John 1:11-12) Among the earliest worshipers of God’s son were lowly shepherds, a poor prophet and prophetess in the temple (Simeon and Anna), and these men from a foreign country. The ruler of the day, King Herod, feared Jesus as a threat to his power. It seems to have beyond his imagination that what Jesus had to offer was worth far more than any earthly throne.
Who are we most like? The wise men who sought Jesus and offered him their worship and their best gifts? Or are we like Herod and the religious authorities of Israel, who, seeing only the threat to their way of life, rejected the son of God?
As we start another new year, let’s think about the wise men. Let’s try to be like those who welcomed Jesus and offered their hearts and lives to him. His gift to us is far greater than all the gold or power in the world.