Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Wise Men Weren't Christians But They're Still Part Of Christmas

Last year around Christmas, I blogged about Josephus' account of Jesus. That seemed to be pretty interesting for most people that read my blog, since it's the second most popular post I've ever written and it still gets views throughout the year but gets heavily visited around Christmas.


This year I want to talk about the "three wise men" from Matthew's account of Jesus' birth. Here's their part in the birth of Jesus (or you can skip down to where I paraphrase the 12 verses below):

"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
    for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route." (Matthew 2: 1-12, New International Version)

They saw a new star that denoted the birth of a Messiah and they followed it to its source. Upon arriving in King Herod's domain, they asked Herod where the child was to be born. Herod consulted with the chief priests and they were able to correctly tell the Magi that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. The wise men then followed the star until they found the child in a house. They fell down at the feet of the Infant King and worshiped him, presenting him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. God then warned them in a dream not to return to Herod, so they returned to their country using an alternate route and lived out their lives in their own country.

What does all this have to do with anything?
Well, what most people don't know is that the Magi, or wise men, were Zoroastrians.They were followers of the Prophet Zoroaster (and you can read more about their prophet here: Zoroaster. They were not even Christians the way we define Christians today. Guess what? I don't know of a nativity scene that's complete without the wise men. Let's recap:

-They knew of a prophecy about Christ's birth
-They left their homes to find the Messiah
-When they found him, they kneeled and presented him with gifts that were fit for a King
-After worshiping Christ, God spoke to them in a dream and told them to return to their country via a different route

So in reality, they received two honors that few people have received in this life. They were gifted the chance to worship the Immortal Christ in person. They were spoken to by God in a dream. Does that actually make them Christians?

Here's what I believe. We focus too much throughout the year on excluding people. These people don't belong to this group that I'm in because of this. I don't think they would fit in. Those people aren't Christians like I'M a Christian. It's really annoying. Christianity should be a religion of inclusion. Stop looking at your neighbors like they have the plague. Stop with the jealous thoughts and feelings that run your life. Stop looking down on others who may have received honors from God that you can't even comprehend.

Merry Christmas and happy whatever else doesn't offend you. For me, I would love to kneel at the feet of Christ with the Magi, the shepherds, and the little drummer boy. I wouldn't be thinking horrible things about them because they, like me, just want to worship the Son of God.

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