Welcome to A Scarlet Cord of Hope, the 2021 advent series of University Fellowship Church Women written and read by Jaime Sherman, who penned our Christmastime narratives from biblical, Jewish, and historical sources to tell how God wove hope from creation to the creche and who continues to point us to the final fulfillment of hope in the one-day-soon second coming of Jesus Christ. Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
today’s suggested reading
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
While We Three Kings is a popular Christmas song, it’s unlikely that the wise men, known as magi, who visited Jesus were actual kings from the East. Rather, the Greek word μάγοι, or magoi, indicates that they were learned Gentile men considered magicians in their time. But they weren’t magicians or wizards as we define them today. Rather, magi were men skilled in astronomy, religion, and medicine and were known for interpreting dreams and most likely worshiping heavenly bodies.
When a group of these men — we are never told in Scripture how many — arrived in Jerusalem, their limited education in Jewish prophecy about a coming king grew as they met Jewish religious leaders summoned to Herod’s court. They were told their aim should be Bethlehem, and their hearts must have skipped a beat. They were so close. These astronomers explained that “his star when it rose” led them to the land of Israel and they had a deep desire to worship the One associated with this star. Even before they had a face-to-face encounter with this long-awaited King Jesus and bestowed upon Him symbolic gifts, they clearly believed that He was worthy of their worship.
As they left the earthly king’s court to trek the six miles to Bethlehem to find the King of kings, His star went before them, urging these joy-filled men onward until it came to rest over the house where the boy Jesus was with His mother. In great rejoicing, these respected men of great position in their own countries fell down and worshipped their King, the One who had brought light into a dark, lost world.
Matthew records that these men opened their treasures and offered Jesus three gifts of significant financial value in the first century that also foreshadowed the boy’s earthly life — gold to honor the King, frankincense to burn as incense in worship in the temple, and myrrh to use both as a pain killer and as an embalming oil. Oh how Jesus’ parents must have marveled that God directed both lowly shepherds and men of great social standing to worship at the feet of their baby.
The wise men searched diligently for the king of the Jews to worship Him. Herod searched diligently for the king of the Jews to kill Him. Have you searched diligently for the Light of the world? How have you and how will you respond to Him? Consider setting aside a chunk of time today to worship your King. Worship can happen in so many ways — in still quiet moments where we surrender our treasures to Him, in song, in dance, in reading from God’s Word, in prayer, in naming the ways He is the King, in service, and in other creative ways when we focus on the One who is worthy of our praise.
Jaime Sherman is a writer and editor for ufcwomen.blog but most importantly a child of the King of kings, the wife of one amazing man for nearly 20 years, and mama of five girls and one boy. Learn more about her adventure in writing and enjoy some free resources on our main page for this series.