- Religion and Philosophy»
- Exploring Religious Options
The Three Wise Men
Long before GPS, maps and travel brochures existed, people relied on nature, the position of the sun, the way moss grew on rocks and trees and the location of the North Star to provide directions.
According to the Gospel of Matthew, some Magi, Gentiles from the East, followed a star to locate the newborn king of the Jews. The ancient believed that when a ruler was born a new star appeared and at Jesus' birth a star appeared that led the Magi to Him.
We called the event "Epiphany" which means "Manifestations".
There are different story in the Bible, in the Gospel of Luke Jesus was presented to the Jewish nation first with the story of the shepherds, the Gospel of Matthew presents Jesus to the Gentiles first with the story of the Magi.
It is believed that Magi were Persian priests said to possess supernatural powers and knowledge. In the Gospel of Matthew, the Magi or wise men are astrologers, that is why they follow the star.
The Magi were from the East, perhaps from Mesopotamia, the home of many astrologers or from Arabia. Some people think each wise man came from a different country. Although the Gospel does not say how many Magi came to visit Jesus, the Gospel of Matthew states that the wise men from the East and they brought gifts for the baby Jesus, because there were three gifts it is usually assumed that there were three of them. Tradition has each given them names: Gaspar, Melchor and Balthasar.
When the Magi arrived in Jerusalem, Herod the Great was in power. He was a strong but cruel ruler who reigned from 37 to 4 B.C. The Magi asked about the newborn king of the Jews and announced that they have come to pay homage. When Harod heard this, he was very upset, he was troubled. He called together the chief priests and scribes and asked them where the Messiah was to be born. They quoted a prophecy that named Bethlehem as the birthplace of a ruler who was to shepherd Israel.
Herod called the Magi to a secret meeting and found from them the exact time the star appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem to search for the child. Herod told the Magi that when they found the child they should bring him word so that he too could worship him. What Herod really intended was to destroy this threat to his throne.
The Magi continued their journey, They were overjoyed to see that the star went before them and stopped over the place where the child was. They entered the house and saw Jesus and Mary. They knelt down and worship him.
When visiting a ruler of a country, it is customary to bring a gift. The Magi offered Jesus gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold was a symbolic gift for a king; frankincense for a priest and myrrh for someone who would suffer, all symbolic about the different facets of Jesus's Life on earth.
Then they returned to their country in a different route since God warned them in a dream not to returned to Herod.
The Epiphany is celebrated with great solemnity, on the 6th of January but more recently, the Epiphany is now on the Sunday between January 2 and January 8.