I wish I could ask the Wise Men some questions:
How did they know the star was about a King of the Jews? Had they read the Old Testament? Was there a certain portion of the sky they thought represented the Jewish people? The Wise Men were a combination of scholars, priests, astronomers and astrologers. Did they recognize other stars being about the birth of other kings?
What made them decide to make the trip to see "The one born King of the Jews?" It was a long trip, more than 900 miles. They would travel by camel or donkey over busy trade routes. There were dangers along the way: robbers, sandstorms, hot days and cold nights. What was so compelling about this star, this sign, to make them want to make a journey that at best would take 40 to 50 days? How did they explain this to their wives: "Hey honey, we saw a star and need to check it out. The guys and I will be back in about four months. Don't wait on me for supper."
What did they talk about on the trip? Did they go over the reasons why they were making the trip? Were they excited the first week but then just had to slog it out the next five weeks? How much money did they have to spend to keep the camels and themselves fed? When they passed through a town, how did they answer the question, "Where are you guys headed?"
Why did they go to Herod's palace? They must have known of Herod's reputation: great builder, but paranoid. Were they so excited to be close that they were oblivious to the danger of setting off Herod's fears? Or did they intentionally throw a barb at Herod when they asked "Where is the one born King of the Jews?" Herod wasn't born King of the Jews; he was appointed by the hated Romans. Couldn't they see through Herod's blatant lie: "Tell me when you find him so I can go and worship him, too." Did they wonder if Herod was so intent on worshipping the baby, why he didn't go with them?
How did the Wise Men interact with the chief priests and the scribes? If they had access to the Hebrew Scriptures, wouldn't they have known themselves that the expected Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem? Did they find it odd that the chief priests and scribes had not investigated the star themselves? Surely, they had seen it, too. When they got the information about Bethlehem, did they invite the Jewish religious leaders to go with them? Did they notice sideways glances and stuttered excuses?
When they finished with the palace session, it was night. They could see the star again, and they were overjoyed. Had they lost sight of it for a while? How did it look when it appeared to move? How did the star lead them straight to the house where Mary and Joseph made Jesus' first home? When they got to Bethlehem, did they have to explain who they were and why they had come? Were people surprised?
What was Mary's reaction when they greeted her at the door? Were they surprised at the humble house? How did they explain everything to Mary? They saw Jesus with Mary; he was probably less than a year old. How did they process this ordinary house with such a young mother and this baby they believed was King of the Jews? What was it like to bow down to a baby who couldn't even talk? Did they worship every new king this way, or was this the only time this happened for them?
How did they pick out the gifts? Certainly, they were gifts fit for a king: gold, frankincense and myrrh. All were valuable, all were precious. How did Mary react when they shared the gifts? Did they stay for awhile and talk? They must have told Mary the whole story about seeing the star, making the journey, going to Herod's palace and seeing the Jewish scholars. Did they explain to Mary the significance of the star that she surely must have seen? And, where was Joseph during all of this? Was he off on some building project, trying to make some money for his little family?
How long was their stay? How did they tear themselves away from the baby? Did they get to hold him? What were their goodbyes like? Did they stay overnight? Did they all have the same dream? What was that like, when the first one said, "I had the strangest dream last night?" Did the others pipe up and say, "Me too!"? How did they avoid Herod's men and skirt around Jerusalem?
What did they talk about on the way home? How did they explain everything when they got back to wherever home was? Did meeting baby Jesus change their lives? Did they stop worshipping other gods? Did they hear about Herod killing the boys in Bethlehem?
Did they live long enough to hear about Jesus the teacher? The miracle worker? Did they hear about the crucifixion? The resurrection? Did it all make sense to them?
When they died, did they go to heaven? Did they meet Jesus again, seated at the right hand of the Father? Did Jesus get up from his seat and say, "I remember you!" Did Jesus say, "I never got a chance on earth to say, 'Thank you.' Of all the people on earth who saw my star, you were the only ones who cared enough to come. Thank you for having faith to make the journey, faith enough to listen, faith enough to obey a dream. And guys, for the rest of human history, people will remember you, sing songs about you, have little figures of you, all because you came to worship me."
The Rev. Dr. Clay Smith is the lead pastor of Alice Drive Bapist Church in Sumter. Email him at email@example.com.
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