Many believers in Jesus are well acquainted with the traditional Christmas carol “We Three Kings of Orient Are” by John Henry Hopkins, Jr. What many might not realize is that the book of Matthew never specifies how many “wise men” there were—only that there were “some” (Matthew 2:1). The idea that there were three wise men developed over the course of church history, but that number isn’t universally accepted. In fact, Syriac Christian churches celebrate no less than twelve visitors from the east!
This isn’t the only interesting insight into the mysterious men that visited Jesus. Some admire them for their incredible knowledge. By observing the stars, they were able to determine that a great king of the Jews had been born (v.2). But what’s truly amazing about the wise men is not only this knowledge, but also what it led them to do. They weren’t content to acknowledge that a king had been born. They set out on a journey of hundreds if not thousands of miles to Jerusalem—bearing kingly gifts over dangerous roads. Their knowledge drove them to action and to worship (v.11).
It’s easy for me to think that knowing about God is enough. Far too often I find myself becoming content with spiritual insight, feeling happy that I’ve learned something new from Scripture. But the wise men remind us that true spiritual knowledge isn’t an end in itself. It’s supposed to draw us closer to Jesus our King. Just as the men “opened their treasure chests” and worshiped Jesus (v.11), may we open our hearts, draw ever closer to Him, and worship at His feet today.
365-day plan: Acts 21:1-17