Sunday, January 25, 2015
Davis Motor Sales banner ad
Posted on 2/2/14

ronniemcbrayer300 green2KENTUCKY (12/8/13) - “We three kings of Orient are.” So begins a favorite carol of the Advent season about the “Wise Men” who visit the newborn Jesus. And so begins a tale that takes inaccuracy and historical revisionism to a whole new level. Reverend John Henry Hopkins, Jr., who wrote the carol a century and a half ago, should have known better.

First, we don’t know exactly how many kings there were. There could have been as few as two and up to almost any number. Tradition says that there were three (though some traditions mention twelve), and over time they were even given names: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. But these are apocryphal stories.

Second, they were not “kings” from the Orient. They were Wise Men, or put more accurately, Magi. The Magi were astronomers – primitive by today’s standards – who were on the cutting edge of scientific and philosophical knowledge in their day. So it may be best to view these Magi as the uncanny combination of scientists, philosophers, and theologians – but not kings. And such men called Persia home (modern day Iran), not the Far East.

Third, these men did not find the Christ child while “following yonder star.” They saw the star “in the East” or “at the rising of the sun,” but then proceeded west to Palestine. The star did not reappear until they were already in Bethlehem.

And finally, the Magi, technically, do not belong in the Nativity scene at all. They were latecomers to the Christmas party, maybe as late as Jesus’ second birthday. The quaking shepherds, singing angels, and lowing cattle had returned to life as normal long ago. On and on I could go ripping the veracity of this Christmas Carol apart, but that is not my intent.

“We Three Kings” remains one of my favorite Holiday hymns to bellow out this time of year. My critique of it is to simply point out that apart from the accumulations of questionable tradition, we know little about these mysterious men from the East. And these traditions prevent us from embracing what we can learn from them – for the journey of the Magi is a fascinating exercise in unexpected faith.

They came seeking the child who had been born king of the Jews, based almost entirely on the appearance of an enigmatic star. While history is rampant with explanations for this phenomena, one conclusion is certain: The Magi interpreted this unusual sign in the heavens as a clear communication that something extraordinary had taken place in the world. And even more extraordinary, these Persian sages applied their interpretation to the emergence of Jesus, the Jewish Messiah.

Why so astonishing? Not many people would launch out on a dangerous journey through the Middle East based solely on a spiritual hunch. Not many people would put their life on hold to prove their mystical intuitions to be true. And the most shocking of all, not many Persians (today’s Iranians) would worship at the feet (or manger) of a Jew. And not many Jews could abide by such a thing, either!

Yet, in God’s way, these all belonged together. Divisions of race, religion, nationality or ethnicity did not factor into the equation. This is a foreshadowing of what the Apostle Paul would say later. “In Christ,” he said, “there is no difference between Jew and Greek, slave and free person, male and female. You are all the same in Christ Jesus” (See Galatians 3). And “all” does mean “all.” All are welcome into the presence of the One who will “reconcile everything – all things in heaven and on earth to himself.”

So here is where the Magi teach us the wisest of their lessons: There are many barriers to overcome and great distances to cover in our journey of faith – “field and fountain, moor and mountain” to quote Reverend Hopkins – but when we get to where we are going, we will we welcomed in with open arms. There we will find the “King forever, ceasing never, over us all to reign.” And “all” surely means “all.”

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.

 

Disclaimer: The content supplied by columnists and letters to the Editor on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such content, statement, or opinions therein. SurfKY News does not necessarily adhere to or endorse content provided by outside non-staff sources.

© Copyright 2015 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story by using one of the social media links below.

2/6/2014 - posted
3/13 - 16
Started 11/8/2013
Started 11/8/2013
1 DOW 17,672.60
-141.38 (-0.79%)    
2 S&P 2,051.82
-11.33 (-0.55%)    
3 NASDAQ 4,757.88
+7.48 (0.16%)    
2/6/2014 - posted
3/13 - 16
Started 11/8/2013
Started 11/8/2013

Most Read This Week

January 19, 2015 8625

Two-Year-Old Child Dies after Being Struck by…

in Top News For All Sites by Paul Ray
January 19, 2015 8515

UPDATE - Lady Mustangs Fall to South Warren

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Steve LeMaster
January 22, 2015 6691

Nortonville Man Accused of Selling Drugs near…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Jail
January 19, 2015 6642

Muhlenberg Board of Education Special Called…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Sherri Miller
January 23, 2015 6640

Local Church's Faith Restored; 71 Souls Saved…

in Top News For All Sites by Gary Gates, SurfKY News
January 20, 2015 6358

Bridal, Prom, Pageant Expo Planned for February…

in Hopkins News by Dana Brown
January 23, 2015 5184

Parents Face Charges after Marijuana Joint Falls…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Jail
January 21, 2015 4991

KYDOT Pre-Treating Roads Thursday in Antipation…

in Top News For All Sites by Keith Todd

Most Read This Month

January 08, 2015 20215

Woman Claiming to be 'Lady Gaga' Tours Town in…

in Top News For All Sites by Madisonville Police Department
January 15, 2015 19794

UPDATE: Fatality Victim's Name Officially Released

in Top News For All Sites by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News

Stories Trending Today

January 23, 2015 1375

School Board Hears Public Comments Regarding…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
January 24, 2015 963

Five Injured in Two-Vehicle Collision

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Chris E. King
January 24, 2015 937

Spelling Bee Contest Winners Announced

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Joyce Riggs
January 24, 2015 912

Happenings, Meetings Listed for Hopkins County

in Hopkins News by Amber Averitt, SurfKY News
January 24, 2015 703

Burrough: Tech Center Construction on Schedule

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
January 24, 2015 697

Kentucky 2014 Highway Fatality Figures Released

in General News For All Sites by Keith Todd
January 24, 2015 663

Keeping the Faith - 'What It's Good For'

in General News For All Sites by Ronnie McBrayer
January 24, 2015 662

PSC Bars $54 Million in Kentucky Power Fuel Cost…

in General News For All Sites by Andrew Melnykovych
January 24, 2015 589

Busting the Myths of Leadership

in General News For All Sites by David Taylor
January 24, 2015 587

Hooked on Science - Feather Balance

in General News For All Sites by Jason Lindsey
January 24, 2015 365

Community-Wide Art Contest Based on Orphan Train…

in Local (Paducah) Top News by Tammy Thompson
January 24, 2015 360

Wade Retires from Murray-Calloway County Hospital…

in Local (Lakes) Top News by SurfKY News