The Magi’s Story
By Dr. Jack R. Hodges, Jr.
God’s Messiah has arrived on planet earth! The birth of Jesus has already taken place. Meanwhile, another story is brewing in a distant land. It is the story of Persian magi. Here is his story:
There it was right before my weary eyes. I had been studying sacred writings for months on end. I and my esteemed colleagues in the institute had collected scrolls filled with religious writings from far and wide. Most of the priests and teachers belonged to a priestly cast of seekers, both clerics, and scholars. Our search was for truth. Our quest was unquenchable. We scoured religion, science, astronomy, and the sciences for the priceless truths that would benefit humanity. We taught astrology, medicine, and the natural sciences in the institute—but our real passion (my real passion) was learning and seeking after the truth. To be perfectly honest, I was seeking my own personal deliverer. Stories and narratives came from everywhere; from all peoples, tongues, tribes, and nationalities. There were similar stories; for instance, there were several creation stories. Deliverance stories were always a big hit—and indeed, they did especially perk my interest. But I was looking for something that would change the world. I was looking for evidence of a God who cared enough about me to offer me a deep personal relationship.
Our country, Persia, once a huge empire, had at one time conquered and enslaved the people of Israel. Great men from among their number had risen to prominence and influence among our kings and princes. One of them was Daniel. The Hebrews had brought with them their sacred scrolls. It was the stories contained in these scrolls that drew me in. I was intrigued and mesmerized. And at the same time, hopeful.
I found what I was looking for in one of those obscure scrolls written by this “Ibri” (a Hebrew) whose name was Musa (Moses). In my extensive historical studies, I had found that the great God, Jehovah, had chosen this man to lead the “Ivreet” (Hebrew) peoples out of bondage from Egypt, just as He had delivered His people from bondage to my own country. Musa was responsible for chronicling much of the early Jewish histories and I was fascinated by these stories of a God who loved and cared about His people. This God, Jehovah, desired to walk with His people, lead them, and guide them—and ultimately, save them from their calamities and sins.
There it was—In the scroll of “Berisheet” (Genesis). “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 22:18) and “Judah will hold the royal scepter, And his descendants will always rule. Nations will bring him tribute and bow in obedience before him” (Genesis 49:10) That’s when I got the idea. If I should find this new ruler, then I would bring Him precious gifts and bow in reverence and obedience to him.
Before I knew it, these prophesies were jumping off the pages of the scrolls. The evidence was overwhelming. The Jewish prophet Yeshaya (Isaiah) wrote, “But the LORD will still give you proof. A virgin is pregnant; she will have a son and will name him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). He foretold, “A child is born to us! A son is given to us! And he will be our ruler. He will be called, “Wonderful Counselor,” “Mighty God,” “Eternal Father,” “Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) He went on to write, “What I saw in my vision hasn’t happened yet. But someday, a king of Israel will appear like a star” In the scroll of “Bema-daber” (Numbers), the same words appeared again. “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; A star shall come forth from Jacob, A scepter shall rise from Israel, And shall crush through the forehead of Moab, And tear down all the sons of Sheth.” (Numbers 24:17).
That was it! It all started making sense to me—this great God, Jehovah, was about to send a new king into this world; one who would rule over all. He would come as a child and He would come for all of us. His power and dominion would be the likes of nothing ever seen nor witnessed in the annals of history. Not even great Persia could stand in comparison.
So, I began to share these obscure prophesies with my colleagues. I continued to search through Hebrew Scriptures, even as I made the rounds with my learned colleagues—trying to ascertain in much greater detail the particulars of time and place. I searched for signs, and indicators of the impending entrance of this Jewish Messiah, who offered to be a Savior for all peoples of the earth.
We were searching the stars each evening, looking in the heavens for the star that would signal that this great Messiah and king was born. Then one evening, high in the western night sky, we found the star. That settled it. We had to go! We must immediately set out and search for this newborn baby—who was destined to become the ruler of the world.
The prophetic scriptures only told us that this Jewish Messiah would be born somewhere in the land of the Jews. So, it was absolutely necessary for us to first go to the center of Judaism, Jerusalem. There, we would inquire from those learned Jewish scholars to see if there were any further prophetic scriptures, perhaps missing from our volumes, that would shed light on exactly where the child would be born.
I had convinced many of my friends and colleagues to go along. It really didn’t take much convincing—for they were as excited as I was. So, we began making preparations for the long journey westward. It took us a couple of weeks: to gather our provisions; purchase the camels and other animals needed to make a long desert journey, procure the proper papers of passage that would be needed along the way; and secure our finest gifts that would be offered to the Messiah-King.
Our caravan set out just a couple of weeks after we had sighted the star. Our excitement and anticipation had rallied many to our noble cause. The desert trek was often treacherous and brutal. We couldn’t afford to be vandalized or set upon by thieves. Our mission was too important. The priceless gifts must be guarded by experienced men who would safeguard both us and our cargo. These costly, precious riches only fit for a king could only be laid down at the feet of the Messiah-King.
Along with our wives, children, servants, and armed guards, we started the journey with goats, donkeys, and camels. We traveled for months and finally arrived in Jerusalem. This great traveling caravan of regally robed astrologers and noblemen made quite a stir when we entered the city. That’s what we wanted. We wanted to draw the attention of the rulers—hoping that we might even gain an entrance to the local Jewish king’s estate. Only he would have the pull to gather his most knowledgeable priests and scribes. Surely, they would have knowledge of further prophecies which would help pinpoint the exact location of the birth of the Messiah-King.
It worked! We were ushered into the presence of King Herod. He seemed taken back by the whole ordeal when we inquired, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews for we have seen His star in the east, and have come to worship Him.” No doubt, a strange question to ask of a sitting king—but Herod quickly rebounded to place his best scholars on a hasty search of the scriptures. They found what they were looking for in the scroll of “Micha” (Micah), “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.” (Micah 5:2)
Although there were many towns named Bethlehem, the prophecy was unmistakable. This was the small town “Bethlehem-Judah” of which the inhabitants were called Ephrathites. It was actually the birthplace of the famous Jewish King David. It all made sense. The same star that had shown so brilliantly when we departed our homeland, now led us to a little town a short distance from Jerusalem. There, we found the young child and his mother. His father, Joseph, had rented a flat.
I tell you—the moment we laid our eyes on this child, joy, and awe exploded from our hearts. We fell down on our knees in worship and admiration. Tears fell down our cheeks as we beheld our King. You see, He wasn’t just Israel’s king—He was my king too. And at that very moment, I found the answer to all of the questions of my searching heart. Yeshua (Jesus) was truly the One for whom I had been seeking all of my life.
We had brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh, the most precious and priceless commodities available to us. And we laid these gifts before God’s Messiah. But, the most valuable gift that I gave Jesus that night—was myself. I am His and He is mine forever more.
A wise man once shared with me that the best gift is one that is: unexpected; given with genuine joy; personal; lasting; and on time. What gifts will you continue to give as you come to worship our Savior, Redeemer, and King?
Dr. Jack Hodges is the Senior Pastor at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Morganton, NC. He has served as a pastor, a biblical counselor, and an International Mission Board missionary.
Read more from Dr. Hodges here.