It is very interesting to know that God revealed the news of the birth of his son in different ways. To Mary through the Angel Gabriel, to Joseph through dreams, to the shepherds by means of a choir of angels, and to wise men through a star, and what is the means that God has used to make his love known to you?
Jesus’ birth is also recounted by Matthew. Instead of shepherds, we find Magi from the East. Instead of a stable, we know about Herod’s palace, Instead of a manger, we find gifts fit for a king, Instead of angels, Matthew tells us of star and dreams.
We know little about these magoi from the East: Matthew calls them magoi, which we transliterate “Magi.” We call them “kings” because Psalm 72:10 speaks of the kings of Tarshish rendering tribute and the kings of Sheba and Seba bringing gifts. We think they were astrologers because they are observing stars, and astrology was considered a learned occupation. We are struck by the contrast between these Gentiles, who follow the star to Jesus, and the chief priests and scribes, who know the scriptures but who do nothing to seek out the Messiah. God’s people ignore the Messiah, while pagans eagerly seek him out.
The wise men got their first clue from nature. They come to Jerusalem, the center of Jewish worship, to be led by the scriptures to Bethlehem. There is a contrast between the joy of these Gentiles and the fear of Herod and Jerusalem. The people who should be ready to receive Christ with great joy are instead afraid. The gifts seem odd for a baby. We expect baby clothes and toys. Gold, frankincense, and myrrh, however, speak to Jesus’ future. Gold is a gift fit for a king. Frankincense is used in temple worship a gift fit for a priest. The high priest uses myrrh as an anointing oil. It is also used to prepare bodies for burial.