Matthew 2:9 After the wise men heard the king, they left. The star that they had seen in the east went before them until it stopped above the place where the child was. 10 When the wise men saw the star, they were filled with joy. 11 They came to the house where the child was and saw him with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. They opened their gifts and gave him treasures of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 But God warned the wise men in a dream not to go back to Herod, so they returned to their own country by a different way. (NCV)
These wise men (literally "Magi") followed a special star to Bethlehem and found Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus in a house. There is a familiar Christmas song that contains the phrase "We three Kings of Orient are, Bearing gifts we travel afar."
Tradition says there were three, although the Scripture simply uses the plural noun and pronoun. So we know there were at least two and perhaps there were more than three. Because the tradition of three is so old it is not unreasonable that we assume there were three.
As to the title of Kings, that is technically incorrect, but in a more pragmatic way they could be describes as kings. They were not kings in the sense that they ruled over a territory. But they were counselors to rulers, they were very wise, very wealthy, and commanded a great following in their own country. They were also scholars and had a great knowledge of the heavens. They apparently had access to Hebrew Scriptures which had presumably been left by some of the Jewish priests during the time when Israel was held captive by the Babylonians.
Having lain a bit of historical background, it is interesting to note the presence, at this special time, of three kinds of kings.
There were the Kings who came to magnify and worship the Christ of God. They were filled with joy.
There was the King, Herod by name, who massacred the town of Bethlehem in order to be rid of the one who might be a threat to his rule. He was filled with jealousy.
Then there was the Christ, who was King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He came with a mission and a message of Good News. He was filled with a desire to Justify sinners.
Now the question this Christmas is, "are we more closely identified with the Jealous king or the joyful kings?" I know, you might be offended that I would even suggest that some would identify with a wicked king, rather than the worshiping kings.
The truth is, we may not be openly antagonistic toward Christ, but we are often jealous of His desire to be the King in our lives. After all, what about the "things" "I" want to have, and the "projects" "I" want to do, and the "places" "I" want to go. To have the King of Kings rule my life might crimp my lifestyle. Be honest, it was jealously that lead to the first sin when Adam and Eve wanted to be like God. And it is spiritual jealously that leads us to being independent of any one else ruling our lives.
May we be as the three kings ... the wise men ... the Magi. May we fall at His blessed feet and worship Him. We worship Him as those ancient kings did by giving. He really does not want impersonal gifts, He wants us. We must give him ourselves. After experiencing Christ, the gift of God, the most appropriate response we can have is to make a gift of ourselves to Him.
I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand
Than to be the king of a vast domain
And be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today. ...copied
THERE IS NOTHING GREATER THAN BEING A SUBJECT OF THE KING OF KINGS, AND THE LORD OF LORDS