Epiphany is on January 6th each year, 12 days after Christmas. The reasoning behind this date it is said that it took 12 days for the Three Wise Men to get to Bethlehem to see the baby Jesus. The scripture says that the wise men or magi as they were called followed the star in the sky that leads them to Bethlehem.
How many of you have taken a long trip? There is a lot of planning involved in a long trip, isn’t there? You need to figure out your route, where you will stop each night, how long it will take, where you will eat, where you will stop to see any significant sites that are the way, and the list goes on. Now days we use our GPS to follow the route we have chosen, before that we used maps or trip tickets, made for you by AAA. It doesn’t matter what the weather is if you have your GPS or maps but what if you were using a star at night as your map. What happens if it is cloudy or foggy, and what do you do if it is raining? How do you stay on course during the day as you wait for night to come so that you can see the star again? So many what ifs.
Now the wise men had gone to Jerusalem first to ask if anyone knew where the baby Jesus was because they had seen the star. King Herod heard about their arrival and the news of the baby Jesus, the new king being born. He asked the priests and teachers of religious law where the Messiah was to be born and they told him Bethlehem. So the wise men had the place where the baby Jesus was to be born and they had the star. They went to find the baby Jesus for they wanted to pay Him homage. We know that this news made King Herod disturbed. He wanted to know where this new king was and asked the wise men to send him a message about the whereabouts of this new king.
The Three Kings or Wise Men or Magi followed this star across the desert until they came to the town of Bethlehem. It is there that the star was above them. They found the baby Jesus in the arms of Mary. Their names were Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar and they represented Europe, Arabia, and Africa respectively. Their means of transportation were horse, camel, and elephant. They also had gifts for the baby Jesus. They were gold, which represented a symbolic acknowledgment of Jesus’ royal standing as “King of the Jews”, frankincense which represents the divine nature of the baby’s existence because Jesus was not an earthly king but the Son of God, and myrrh, which was often used to embalm corpses, was gifted to the newborn as a symbol of his mortality. This foreshadowed his death as a means to cleanse humanity of its sins.
These were strange gifts to give a newborn child, one thinks more like it should have been onesies, diapers, blankets, toys but we have to remember that this newborn child was not an ordinary newborn child. After giving Jesus the gifts and paying their respects, the wise men left and they left by a different route because they had learned in a dream to not return to King Herod. King Herod wasn’t interested in paying homage to the baby Jesus. But that is another story.
My question now is how they knew the way to get back to their own country. Was there a star to follow or did their animals know by instinct the way?
Nothing is said about the faith these 3 men must have had for them to make the long trip to see the baby Jesus who they knew was to be the King of the Jews. Would we do the same thing? It would be so easy to say we could just send Mary a card and a gift to congratulate her on the birth of her son or we could send her a text and tell her that she should be receiving a box from Amazon Prime tomorrow. That would be so much easier than planning for a long trek to a place we don’t know well to visit for a short while and then head home again. That is a lot of work and time after all. But, can you imagine how it must have been like for those 3 men to actually be able to see in person that baby who would become our savior? They were fortunate to be able to see Jesus in person, we just have to use our imagination and picture that precious baby in our minds. Once again we have to remember that though we know the story of the life of Jesus, we don’t have the advantage of living the story of the life of Jesus. We rely on our faith and the belief that Jesus was really born, grew to be a man, taught his disciples and the people of his time about how to have a life eternal, and then died on the cross to guarantee that we will have eternal life. There are times when it is difficult to have that faith to know that it is all true. When that is the case, when we wish we had something tangible to help us have that faith, we just need to read the Bible and say a prayer to God to help us to have that faith. So as you go about your week, think of the story of the 3 Wise Men and the trek they made to pay homage to the newborn child, our Savior. We are blessed because they did make the trek and we are especially blessed that Jesus was born and that He was/is our Savior.