7: Wise Men From the East
The caravan moved slowly through the wilderness. It was a caravan of rich, important men accompanied by their armed servants. They came from the east, perhaps from the land of the Chaldeans where Nebuchadnezzar had ruled, or perhaps from the land of the Medes and Persians, still farther away.
The wise men were on their way to Israel. They were looking for the king of the Jews, who had been born recently.
Somehow these wise men from a heathen land knew that a special child had been born in the land of the Jews. They knew that child would become a mighty king someday. The heavens had told them about the child.
The travelers were learned men. They had read many ancient books on wisdom. They followed the course of the stars through the heavens carefully. They believed that the stars unlocked the future and enabled them to foretell important events.
They had recently seen a bright new star in the heavens. There it was, suddenly, unexpectedly—a bright, shining light. That new star must mean a new human life on earth, they reasoned. Because it was such a beautiful star, the person just born must be someone very special, someone full of power and glory.
The wise men looked through their books, performed some tricky calculations, and concluded that a king must have been born in the land of the Jews. Perhaps Balaam's prophecy that a star would come forth from Jacob helped them reach that conclusion.
When they realized what the star meant, they had no peace while they remained in the east. Some force drove them to set out on a journey. They obeyed the silent compulsion in their hearts. They prepared their camels, assembled gifts to take along, and set out on a long journey westward.
They traveled through territory where they could be attacked by robbers and wild animals. They made the same long journey that Abraham had once made when he trusted in God's love to lead him to a new land.
At last, in the distance, the wise men saw Jerusalem with its hills, its high walls, its palaces, and its shining temple. That was their destination. Surely the king of the Jews was born in one of those palaces.
They entered the city's gates and began to ask, "Where is the king of the Jews who was born recently?" People stared at them in surprise and shrugged their shoulders. They didn't know anything about a new king.
"We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him," said the travelers.
Suddenly a gleam came into the eyes of the people. They began to look at each other in hope. The Messiah? Could it be?
No one could help the travelers. Disappointed, they moved down other streets, asking people the same questions.
The people of Jerusalem began to gather in groups. Could it be that the Messiah had come to deliver them from cruel Herod and to drive out the hated Romans? Could heathen travelers from a faraway land find out about the Messiah even before the Jews?
The news about the wise men and their strange question raced through the city. Soon all of Jerusalem was in an uproar.