An explanation of the 3 Wise Men that even kids can understand. Merry Christmas
STORY 5: The Lost Scientist
The Passage: Matthew 2:1-12
Who were the three kings that came to see Jesus in the manger?
We sing the song “We Three Kings” at Christmastime, but the sad truth is, no kings came to see Jesus at his birth. King Herod was only about five miles away, but he stayed home. And the Wise Men, who are sometimes called kings, they didn’t see Jesus in the manger either. They asked King Herod for directions, but that is as close as Jesus came to any earthly kings. So, who were these Wise Men, where did they come from, and why did they come?
LET’S FIND OUT. . .
Matthew chapter two says “Mt 2:1 (NLT) Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some Wise Men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 2 “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”
The word for “wise men” or “magi” can also be translated “scientist, astrologer,” or “magician.” We don’t know much about the wise men, but what we do know is petty cool. We know they were a kind of scientist, that they descended from a priestly tribe from a people called the “Medes,” and that they studied stars. Some were probably into strange religions like the occult, and yet others must have been believers.
If we go back in time to about 500 years before Jesus was born, we can learn more about the wise men. So, lets hop in our time machine and back we go.
Have you ever had a nightmare that was so scary that when you woke up you were afraid to go back to sleep? What was it about?
500 years before Jesus, Nebuchadnezzar (we will call him King Neb) was king of Babylon. King Neb went to war against Israel, and brought Daniel and some other teenagers back as prisoners. Daniel and other young prisoners were sent to wise man school to be trained to serve King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel was just graduating from wise man training when King Neb had a dream. The dream totally freaked King Neb out – he must have woken up all scared and sweaty – so he yelled for his magi to interpret the dream for him.
“OK King, we will do our best.” they said, “just tell us the dream and we will tell you what it means.”
But King Neb had forgotten his dream! No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t remember it – but the harder he tried to remember the dream, the more terrified he became. So he told his magi, “I can’t remember it – so you must tell me both the dream I had and what it means.”
“What? We can’t do that! We’d have to be a god to do that! No king has ever asked such a thing before, and no one can tell you what you dreamed!” they answered.
But King Neb wasn’t backing down. He said, “I am serious about this. If you don’t tell me what my dream was and what it means, you will be torn limb from limb, and your houses will be turned into heaps of rubble! But if you tell me what I dreamed and what the dream means, I will give you many wonderful gifts and honors. Just tell me the dream and what it means!” Daniel 2:5-6 (NLT)
Have you ever felt like everyone was against you? Without hope? When? Why? Were you really without hope?
The Wise Men didn’t want to be torn limb from limb, but they also couldn’t do what the king wanted. So, King Neb rounded all the magi up to kill them – including Daniel who had just graduated from Wise Men school. What could Daniel do? He was a teenager in a foreign jail in line to be torn apart. His parents were dead or back in Israel. All hope was gone.
Except for God. All Daniel could do was pray. So he did.
That night God answered Daniel’s prayer, telling him both what the king had dreamt, and what the dream meant. The next day, Daniel asked to speak to the king. There were probably wiser people than King Neb around. They were glad to stop the killing of the Wise Men – so they brought Daniel to the king. When Daniel explained things to the Neb, Neb was blown away! Daniel must have become a hero not only to the king, but also to all the wise men. He saved them from a gruesome death!
When Daniel was older, God told him when the Messiah King Jesus would be born (Daniel chapter 9). Jerusalem and all Israel had been destroyed by Babylon, but God said Jerusalem would be rebuilt, and that the Messiah would come 434 years (62 weeks of years) later. It’s probable that many Wise Men became followers of Daniel’s God, as they must have loved Daniel since he saved their lives. If that is true, then they were looking forward to the coming Messiah. It wasn’t long after Daniel died that Jerusalem was rebuilt.
And the Wise Men starting counting down the 434 years.
If you had a time machine, where would you go? When would you go?
Now we will skim over the 500 years from Daniel to Jesus.
History seems to indicate that after Daniel died, the Wise Men lived east of Israel and the Roman Empire (in the Parthian empire) During these years, kings would hire the Wise Men as their counselors. When kingdoms were between kings, they would use the Wise Men to help choose their next leaders. They were the kingmakers.
The Wise Men pop up after Daniel in the book of Esther, when that king consulted with his “wise advisers” in Esther 1:13. That king trusted his Wise Men to help him choose the new Queen of Persia. Then the Bible goes silent until. . .
Mt 2:1 (NLT) Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some Wise Men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 2 “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him. . . ”
7 Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. 8 Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”
9 After this interview the Wise Men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! 11 They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 1
When the Wise Men came to see Jesus, they weren’t coming to help interpret a dream like Daniel did for King Neb. They weren’t coming to help choose a queen like they did for Esther. They were the kingmakers, and they were coming to worship the new King.
It’s possible that 500 years before Jesus was born, God chose some wise men, a group of scientists, to get special insight from Daniel about when the Messiah Jesus would be born. These Wise Men passed down this information from one generation to the next. When these scientists saw the strange light in the sky, and counted down 434 years since Jerusalem had been rebuilt, they knew it was time to go worship the coming King.
Not being sure exactly where to go to find Jesus, they stopped at Herod’s house. Surely King Herod would know where the baby had been born. But, of course, Herod had no clue.
No important people from Israel came to worship King Jesus. King Herod and the religious leaders in Jerusalem didn’t bother to go five miles to what might be happening in Bethlehem. . So, God went back 500 years to bring some of the smartest men on the planet, the kingmakers – men who counseled kings and chose queens – to travel across from the east to worship Him.
So what should I do?
Where else is this taught?
Jer 29:13 (NLT) If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.
2Ki 17:36 (NLT) But worship only the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt with great strength and a powerful arm. Bow down to him alone, and offer sacrifices only to him.
Ps 33:18 (NLT) The LORD watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love.