One song classifies them as three kings while the Bible says nothing about the number that came, only that there were three gifts. As for being kings? Traditionally, the word “magi” means, “ a wise man or priest, who was expert in astrology, interpretation of dreams and various other occult arts.” Again, the Bible gives no indication if this is how it was being interpreted here or not. But most scholars have settled on the term “wise man.”
They did come from the East, but from where exactly is not said. Since there are other reports regarding wise men in the book of Daniel, and Daniel had lived in Babylon, (which is to the east) many believe they came from there.
But, regardless of the misconceptions or uncertainties of these men, three things do remain true.
First, they were curious. They had heard of the prophecy regarding the King of the Jews, most likely from the faithful held captive in Babylon, and very likely beginning with Daniel, who would have rubbed elbows with “wise men” because of his position. This curiosity is even more incredible as it would have been 500 years since the time of David until these wise men’s time.
Second, they were searching. As men interested and educated in astronomy and astrology, they would have assumed, as soon as the star appeared in the sky, that something of great import was taking place. This, coupled with their curiosity about the prophecy regarding the King of the Jews, started them on a journey that would have taken anywhere from 40 days to two years based on what the Bible does say about the age of Christ when they arrived and Herod’s reaction.
Their searching started with the prophecy but continued through what may not have been an easy or short journey.
Finally, when they did see Jesus, they were not dissuaded by his humble position. Despite their education, they readily accepted the truth before them.
Today, many are curious about who Jesus is. Many are searching for meaning, significance, and truth. But many stumble over the simplicity and humbleness of Christ’s birth.
This Christmas season, I pray that the curious are satisfied, that the seekers find the truth, and that the intellectually skeptical will believe the simplicity of salvation.