When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. – Matthew 2:9-11
They fell down and worshiped Him… stunning.
These travelers arrived as much as two years after the birth of Jesus. The young family was living in a house in Bethlehem, not overnighting in a stable. The shepherds had long since come and gone. Jesus was walking by now.
The text does not tell us the wise men were kings, nor that there were three of them. They are the Magi… scientists and religious scholars who combined astronomical observation with astrological speculation. It is likely that they knew some Jews where they came from… and they would have been equally aware of the Jewish hopes for a Messiah. They traveled a great distance, led by a star that had the capacity to be movable, and then motionless. These men who had spent most of their lives peering at the night sky recognized something special about the star and attached great significance to it.
I have so many questions for these guys.
- what are your names?
- how many of you were there?
- where did you go after you saw the baby?
- what did you do for the remainder of your lives?
- why did you fall down and worship…a toddler?
The word worship used here finds it’s root in the Greek word proskuneo. Pros means “towards” and kuneo means “to kiss.” It means to lie prostrate, literally leading with the lips towards the object of honor. These men fell down and did that… before a toddler. Somehow these men put it together: this was no ordinary baby.
Yes, they gave the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But long before they gave their gifts, these dear men gave themselves.
Models for you and me, the wise men show us the way to the Christmas Revolution!