The Magi Visit the Messiah
by Mike Sparks
One of the most interesting stories of Christmas season is the story of the Wise Men. Nativity scenes around the world display them. Many Songs and poems have been written about these, ‘Wise Men.’ They are even featured in movies, theater plays and Sunday school skits.
The Bible does not tell us the exact number of wise men. Most know the story as, ‘The Three Wise Men.’
In the Bible they were not present for His birth in a manger which is so often depicted in nativity scenes every Christmas.
The gospel of Luke records the conception of Jesus Christ in Luke 1:26-56 and His birth in Luke 2:1-7. According to Mosaic custom, eight days later, Jesus was taken to the temple to be circumcised and given His name, “Jesus.” The name Jesus means “Savior.” In Matthew 1:21, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Then 40 days after His birth, He was taken to the temple and dedicated to God in obedience to Leviticus 12:4-5. Some time after that, the wise men or magi visited Christ (Matthew 2:1-11).
The Wise Men (magi) followed the star in the sky. It led them to the city of Bethlehem and to the place where Jesus was living with His parents.
In the scripture of Matthew 2:1-2, “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.’”
When King Herod heard about the Wise Men seeking Jesus, he became troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he asked them where the Messiah would be born. And they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written through the prophet, ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are in no way least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come forth a ruler who will shepherd my people, Israel.’”
King Herod then secretly called upon the Wise Men, and learned from them exactly what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, “Go and search diligently for the young child, and when you have found him, bring me word, so that I also may come and worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
In the book of Matthew 2:12 tells us, “And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.”
The historical account of visit of the Magi in the book of Matthew 2:1-18 is no doubt intriguing. My curiosity is that why would these noble and wise men who were astronomers be so compelled to undertake such a long and extremely difficult journey?
The Wise Men obviously weren’t not of Jewish descent. The scriptures tells us that they made the long arduous journey to bring gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The scripture in Matthew where they ask, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” The Wise Men seemed to be very confident that the child they were worshipping was truly the “King of the Jews.”
The Mystery of the Magi
They were the Three Wise Men bearing gifts, but who were the real Magi?
Editor’s Note: A few years ago I was speaking to some Kurdish friends about Christmas and Jesus. Although they are of the Muslim faith they have always been very respectful and have treated me with kindness. I’ve also purchased 22 vehicles, plus a Harley Davidson from them (Ironically, none of them knew how to ride a motorcycle). During the conversation they told me that the Wise Men were of Kurdish descent.
I was very surprised and had never heard that.
Needless to say, I became very intrigued of the history of the Wise Men and the Kurdish people. The Kurdish soldiers and Peshmerga fighters have been staunch allies with Americans fighting the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and ISIS. Let’s not forget Saddam killed thousands of innocent Kurds, including many women and children. According to a Reuters new story, an estimated 180,000 Kurds were killed by Saddam Hussein during the “Anfal” campaign that targeted Iraqi Kurds in the late 1980s when chemical gas was used, villages were razed and thousands of Kurds were forced into camps.
Many may not know that Nashville has the largest Kurdish community in the U.S. with about 15,000 residents.
Did God use the descendants of the modern-day Kurdish people to help Mary and Joseph by bringing them expensive gifts?
The Kurdish people view themselves as descendants of the Medes who would eventually become part of the Persian Achaemenid Dynasty. Through this line of descent they practiced Mithraism, one of the earliest known monotheistic religions, of whom the biblical “Three Wise Men” ,or “Magi”, were priests.
We can all learn a great deal from the Wise Men whether they were of Kurdish decent or not…I would argue that today-more so than ever Wise Men need to seek him.