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Lessons from the Wise Men from the East

"We have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him."

Matthew 2:2

December comes quickly, surrounding us with the many noisy and festive manifestations of the so-called Christmas time. Decorations in light and colour all over the place, intense commercial publicity in all means of communication, parties, travel programmes, special food, much drink, and that is how Christmas is celebrated.

The year's routine changes radically in all sectors of human life, with flagrant extravagance in behavioural attitudes in social, business, family and even religious areas, not always within adequate moral and spiritual standards.

What motivates all this in the human context? A fact which happened two millennia ago which surpassed in importance all happenings in history! The birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was the glorious moment of fulfilment of countless prophecies concerning the eternal project of God for the spiritual restoration of man.

What an auspicious moment that was! The Word, who was God, made Himself flesh to live amongst us and to experience all the beneficial events of the manifestation of the Grace of God, by means of His life, ministry, death and resurrection. It is a pity that all the swirl of the celebrations of the event goes on so far from its true and correct sense. The world celebrates a Christmas without Christ!

The Bible text records some differentiated details, sublime and uncommon, pertinent to the birth of the Lord Jesus, which lead us to the appreciation of precious lessons as to how we ought to behave in the presence of the fact. They are lessons of humility by the manger; of the fields of Bethlehem where the shepherds, upon the angelic news and the unportrayable scene of glory which framed the firmament, with the participation of the angelic choir glorifying God, went to see Him and to worship Him.

But we also have the lessons of the wise men from the East in accordance with the writing in Matthew 2:1-12. They were probably astrologers, perhaps from Persia or from South Arabia. The attitude of the wise men is recorded with impressive details which are translated into precious lessons for us. Let us see:

  1. THE LESSON OF SPIRITUAL SENSIBILITY AND CONVICTION: "We have seen His star in the East" (v.2a) - nobody can see a star without looking into the sky. What the wise men did most was to look into the sky. Many people look into the sky but see nothing. The wise men could distinguish, when checking the sky, the "star of the Lord" ("His star"). What spiritual sensibility! This was what touched them and moved them to the long and difficult pilgrimage to meet the Lord. They had conviction that it was a message from God. This led them to search the Lord, certain that the Messiah had arrived. There is much discussion over what the special star's characteristics were. This doesn't matter. It matters that they perceived that the Lord placed on the firmament a special star which spoke to them of something transcendental and of great spiritual value. That star was an allusion to Numbers 24:17 - "a Star shall come out of Jacob", which some ancient Jewish texts interpreted as a symbol of the Messiah. As learned men they would have knowledge of such texts and, because of this, they soon had the sensitivity of the marvellous message of the Lord. Their spiritual sensitivity is demonstrated clearly in their manifest conviction when they spoke to king Herod: "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?". What an extraordinary conviction of divine revelation! We lack much of this spiritual sensibility and conviction of truths revealed by God. We must look higher up! There are stars which the Lord wants to exhibit to us with extraordinary messages! Maybe we look, but see nothing! The conviction of precious truths, which brings unspeakable blessings, depends on a good knowledge of the Word of God!
  2. .THE LESSON OF THE WORSHIP DUE TO THE LORD: "we have come to worship Him." (v.2b); "they fell down and worshipped Him" (v.11a) - The wise men give us one of the most beautiful lessons that the Bible provides us with about the greatest privilege of the human being, which is his own heavenly calling: to correctly worship the Lord. The Lord made it clear that the Father is seeking worshippers who will worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:23). We were created for this purpose. If sin annulled in us the partaking of this privilege, it is restored to us in Christ. Unfortunately we have lost sight of this sublime heavenly calling and we exercise a Christianity wrong way round, far from the spiritual delights which the authentic worship reserves for us, restricting us to a vain religiosity which goes far from spirituality.
  3. THE LESSON OF TOTAL CONSECRATION TO THE LORD: "when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh" (v.11b) - It is thrilling to verify that the wise men came on their long journey supplied with valuable offerings for the Lord! They opened their treasures and offered the best. This reminds us of another sublime and identical lesson left by Mary, when she anointed the feet of Jesus(John 12:3). They honoured the Lord, not only through worship, but also by disposing of exceptional values, as demonstration of the total consecration of that which they held to be most valuable! Gold symbolised "royalty", frankincense "divinity" and myrrh "sacrifice". The wise men manifested their total consecration to the King of kings, God and Redeemer! It would be good if we manifested in the same way our total consecration.

There is no Christmas without Christ! Let us not proceed like the world! Let us celebrate it with spiritual discernment of the truths which the Word of God reveals concerning Him, placing on them our irremovable conviction; devoting to Him solemn and correct worship; offering Him total consecration of the treasures of our lives.

If we adopt the lessons of the wise men, the celebration of Christmas will have meaning and will glorify God!