Wicked and Wise

 Day Five: The Twelve Days of Christmas 

THE INTRODUCTION

Nativity paintings typically feature Mary, Joseph, and the little baby Jesus surrounded by angels, shepherds and the animals. And, almost always, the Magi are painted into the scene. I get the shepherds and angels but why the Magi? Who were they and why did they come? 

5000-year-nativity-scene-egypt_2
Mary, Jesus, the wise men and in the background, is Joseph. Maybe not historically or culturally accurate, but it sure looks good at Christmas!

THE WISE

The Magi were scholars, astronomers, and philosophers. In their culture, they were highly important and wielded great influence. They were King makers, so, those on thrones rose to power because of Magi. They were commissioned to serve the royalty of the Babylonian empire.

Do you remember the Daniel of Daniel and the lions den? He became a person of  significance for interpreting King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams. As a reward, the King made him ruler of the province and made him 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 them the prophecies of the one to be born king of kings. As king makers, they took this seriously and each generation passed the prophecies to the next one. They followed the time line that Daniel provided and when the time arrived, they looked for the sign, an evening star leading them to the infant king. 

THE WICKED

Herod was King of Judea and a wicked man. He wasn’t a rightful heir to the throne since he was neither Jewish or a descendant of King David. Herod wielded great power and placed his sons in positions of regional authority and used his political connections in Rome to expand his domain. He was possessed with unquenchable ambition and even murdered some of his family to eliminate potential rivals. 

When Herod heard about the birth of Jesus, the newly born King of the Jews, he immediately launched a search for the infant to have him killed. 

HerodtheGreat1_original
Herod: The wicked and violent King of Judea

THE WICKED AND THE WISE

  1. The wicked sought to kill Jesus while the Wise sought to honor him.
  2. The wicked put down threats while the Wise pursued divine opportunity. 
  3. The wicked feigned interest in worshiping while the Wise worshiped with awe.
  4. The wicked would give Jesus a sword while the Wise sought to give him royal gifts. 

TO CLOSE

On Christmas Eve, children will leave milk and cookies as gifts for Santa. Come Christmas morning, Santa will have left gifts for children. But I wonder, what will Jesus get? Are we finished giving to the one born the King of Kings?

Will there be praise and glory for our Emmanuel? Perhaps it depends on whether we are more like the wise or more like the wicked.

What does Jesus has on his wish list this year?

What gifts does he look for you to give?

Merry Christmas!

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