Christmas Devotional (1)
“There,” Melchior pointed to a small cluster of mud-brick houses. “We have found him!”
Could it be? Was the greatest of all Kings to be found here, in this dusty, ramshackle village?
I thought back over the long journey that had brought us here. I remembered the first time I looked up at the night sky and saw the star, unlike any I had ever seen before. From that first moment, gazing on its brightness in the western sky, I knew that it was an omen of great significance. Our nights were spent studying the star; our days, discussing and debating its meaning. We poured over our own ancient writings, but all to no avail.
It was a few months before Balthasar rushed in with a scroll, delight written on his face. “Listen to this. It’s a prophecy from the writings of the Israelites.” He read slowly, the words weighted with authority. “A star shall come out of Jacob; a sceptre shall rise out of Israel.”
“Israel,” Melchior whispered. “That’s it! The star points to the birth of a Jewish King.”
“And what a King he must be,” Balthasar said with quiet awe.
It had been an easy decision to make. We had all agreed to seek out the King and pay him homage. There were preparations to make of course. One did not arrive at a King’s court empty handed. Our camels were prepared, our supplies stocked, and the purest, finest gifts acquired. It had been many weeks before we could set off, and in that time my impatience grew. The more I gazed at the star, the deeper my longing to lay eyes on this Great One.
The long days and weeks crossing the plains and deserts, rivers and wadi’s, blur in my mind. We kept a sharp eye out for bandits, often joining with other caravans of travellers moving in the same direction. But always the star drew us, its brightness now lighting up my heart as warmly as it did the night sky. It was with relief that we reached Damascus, and after two days’ rest, carried on through Tyre to Jerusalem.
We had expected there to be a sense of celebration in Israel’s capital city. After all, their greatest King of all time had just been born. Yet everyone we asked about him looked at us blankly and shrugged, or pointed to the Upper City where the palace of Herod stood.
When we rode through the palace gates my heart soared. Surely this large, majestic building of pillars and marble was a worthy home for a King so great. However, as I walked into the crown room and bowed to the old king, a strange foreboding gripped me. As we spoke of our mission, his eyes narrowed and a hard look came upon his face. He called for his priests and scribes and asked them after the birthplace of the Messiah, the Anointed One of God. It was at that moment that my head understood what I suspect my heart already knew—this Great One we sought was more than an earthly King, we was a heavenly one too.
Bethlehem of Judea. I gazed upon it now. This humble town—Herod’s scribes said—had been prophesied as the birthplace of the Messiah.
“Come on Gaspar.” My companions had already dismounted from their camels and were staring at me impatiently. My servant aided me as I slid off my beast’s back, and hurried to catch up with them.
The smell of sawdust filled the courtyard of the house they led me to. A young man, busy planing a piece of wood, stopped as soon as he saw us, a startled look on his face.
“We seek the King of the Jews,” Melchior said simply. “We come to honour him with our gifts.”
“Mary?” the man called, not taking his wary eyes from our faces.
A young woman appeared, holding a child on her hip. I could not draw my gaze away from his smiling face. He looked like every other Israelite child I had seen on this journey—with olive skin, dark hair and nut brown eyes. Yet, a warmth stirred inside me. It was him! I knew it without a shadow of a doubt. Finally, we had found the One the star pointed to.
In that moment my companions and I sank to our knees and worshiped the Great One…King of the Jews…Messiah…Heavenly Ruler.
“A star shall come out of Jacob; a sceptre shall rise out of Israel.” (Numbers 24: 17)
The account of the Wise Men from the East seeking Jesus is found in Matthew 2.
If you enjoyed this story and would like to read more, take a look at my book Encounters: Life Changing Moments with Jesus, where I step right into the heart of 20 bible stories.