Lessons on Rebirth from the Christmas Story, Part 4: The Wise Men -- By Lyn Chaffart

Last Saturday, in LESSONS ON REBIRTH FROM THE CHRISTMAS STORY, Part 3, we continued our look at what the Christmas story can teach us about the rebirth process by looking at the Christmas star. We learned that God wants to get our attention, and He desires a relationship with us so that He can begin to awaken in us the new life He has for us. But in order to see Him calling out to us, we must first be seeking Him!

That Christmas star was seen in the East by a group of men commonly called "the Wise Men", and these men have important lessons to teach us about the rebirth process.

Though most nativity scenes include the representations of three ornately-dressed men wearing flowing beards, the Bible simply tells us: "behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem" (Matt 2:1)

 

There was no mention of how many, where they were from, or even, for that matter, when they visited Jesus. In fact, the Biblical record puts the Wise Men in Jerusalem, seeking Jesus, NOT the night OF His birth, but "after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea" (Matt 2:1)! We know that Jesus was taken to the temple in Jerusalem at 8 days of age, so had not yet fled to Egypt, so the visit of these famous men had to have happened at least 8 days after his birth. We also know that the wise men found Jesus, not in a stable, but in a house: "And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother..." (Matt 2:11 NKJV). As a result, we know that the wise men were, actually, NOT present at Jesus' birth!

 

Tradition tells us that these men followed the Christmas Star from the East. According to the Bible, however, they set out on their trip without even having the star to guide them. The star did not appear again to them until they left Jerusalem: "When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy." (Matt 2:9-10)

Isn't it sad how far tradition can take us from the actual scriptures? But just what lessons can the Biblical story of the Wise Men teach us?

 

First of all, these men were NOT Jewish, yet they were familiar with Jewish Scripture. They knew the prophecy of Balaam recorded in Numbers 24, and recognized it as messianic: "A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel …" (Num 24:17 NKJV) As a result of their study, when they saw the star, they knew it signified the birth of the Christ child.

In the same way, we are also admonished to study the Scriptures: "Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved … correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth." (2 Tim 2:15 AMP) Everything we need for the rebirth and new life process is in the Bible! All we have to do is follow the example of the Wise Men and STUDY.

The second lesson comes from the fact that the Wise Men left everything they had to start on a long journey across the desert without even having the star to guide them!

In just the same way, we also must make Jesus our first priority! Jesus' instructions on the subject are poignant: "Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead." (Matt 8:22).

 

Finally, they took with them expensive gifts to give to the Christ child! "And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh." (Matt 2:11)

 

So often we look at the Christian life as one of taking. We "take" the gift of Salvation. We "take" the wisdom and strength and the fruit of the Spirit. We "take" the gift of the Holy Spirit. But in the spirit of the Wise Men, we must also be willing to GIVE of the BEST that we are and have: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." (Rom 12:1-2 NKJV)?

This year as we see the Wise Men figures in the Nativity scenes, let's remember the new life lessons that the Biblical account of these men has to teach us about the rebirth process: To be familiar enough with Scripture to recognize when God is calling us, to make Jesus our #1 priority, and to be prepared to give ALL of ourselves to His service!

Please join us next Saturday for the conclusion of LESSONS ON REBIRTH FROM THE CHRISTMAS STORY, Part 5: The Stable Birth.

In His love,

Lyn


Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, www.scripturalnuggets.org, with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org.

(To access the entire "Lessons on Rebirth from the Christmas Story" mini-series, please click here.)