What Do We Learn from the Magi?

The Visit of the Wise Men

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” 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. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.  (Matthew 2:12, NRSV)

  • The magi (or wise men) were on a journey, a long journey that filled them with excitement and took them beyond the ordinary events of their daily lives. They were on a journey to find the Christ-child, the Messiah.  How is your life also a journey to discover God’s greatest gift to humanity?
  • The magi brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh – gifts fit for a king. Their gifts were not so much gifts that a new born and his parents needed in their current circumstances, but expensive gifts to honor the Christ-child as a king.  How might you use your life resources – your time, your talents, your finances – to honor God?
  • The magi were invited to return to King Herod after they had found this “new king” so that Herod could also honor him. Following Herod’s wishes might have brought reward to the magi (a real temptation), but also certainly would have brought tragedy to Jesus and his family.  God encouraged the magi to return home by “another way” after they had encountered the Christ-child.  How has your relationship with Jesus enabled you to deal with temptation in life and travel a different path than a one that is only about rewarding yourself?
  • The magi were confident that the star was leading them to where God wanted them to be. How/where  is God leading you?  Are you willing to follow – just like the Magi?

Just for fun 

– Ask someone “How many magi/wise men does the Bible say there were?” The Bible doesn’t actually say that there were three wise men, but the tradition of three wise men has been long held due to the fact that there were three gifts.