Day Five: Twelve Days of Christmas
Here’s a story about the wicked and the wise.
Paintings of the Nativity have angels, shepherds, and animals with Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus, and almost always, the Magi. I get the shepherds and the angels, but who were the Magi and why were they there?
The Magi were scholars, astrologers, and philosophers. In their culture, they wielded great power and influence. There’s was an ancient caste serving the kings of the Babylonian empire, specifically King Nebuchadnezzar.
Because he interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams, Daniel was made the chief Magi, Daniel 2:48;
“Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men.”
Daniel taught the Messianic prophecies to the wise men and each succeeding generation passed them down. The prophecies of Daniel 9 provided a time frame for when to expect the Messiah’s birth.
The Magi were looking for a sign, and they found one, it was the star.
King Herod, the King of Judea, was an evil man and not the rightful heir to the throne. He descended from Esau, not Jacob, so he was an Edomite, and not Jewish. For political reasons, he had three of his sons and one of his wives executed. But he had deft political skills with Rome and possessed unquenchable ambition.
After hearing about the birth of the King of the Jews, Herod hatched a plot to kill the infant king. But, of course, he failed.
The Wise & the Wicked
The wicked wanted to kill to protect his empire. The wise wanted to worship the newborn king. The wicked exterminated those who threatened his rule. The Magi presented royal gifts to the infant Messiah. The wicked had evil duplicity and the wise had transparent righteousness.
I like the gift givers.
On Christmas Eve, children will leave milk and cookies for Santa. On Christmas morning, there will be buckets of gifts for everyone. That’s the Christmas I know and love.
But what will Jesus get? Are we finished giving him gifts? Will there be a heart-felt moment of praise for him?
Maybe the answer depends on whether we are more like the Magi, or more like Herod.