Good News of a Great Light


When the light of God came into the world it began to shine in a small fishing village and from there would spread to the whole world. Some were willing to join it by immediately changing their entire lives. What about us?


I pray that the beginnings of Christian discipleship encourage us to also be bold disciples.


We will look at the place where discipleship began, and how readily those first disciples were to drop everything to follow the Light of the world.


Jesus spent most of his ministry in and around Capernaum (Matthew 4:13). Pronounced in Greek kap-er-na-’OOM, it was a Hebrew hamlet, Kafer Nahum (ka-’FER na-’HOOM), meaning Nahumville and it sat on the north shore of Lake Galilee. Later in Jesus’ ministry the only public building was the synagogue, reputedly built by the Roman centurion whose servant Jesus healed. There were no paved streets, public restrooms and the synagogue was the community center. It was a small fishing village on a main road. Capernaum was also the place where Peter and his wife owned a house. The architecture was stone homes with thatched roofs, lending itself to the later healing of a paralyzed man who was lowered through a roof. Perhaps Jesus chose this town on a major trade route as a center of his early ministry because his first disciples came from there.

The fanatical preacher

There he was standing in the street again obsessively broadcasting the same propaganda. A lot of people listened to the fanatical preacher. He was a newcomer to town, a hillbilly from the back woods and he had some radical ideas. Other people were angered by his message which they thought to be foolishness. Some just paid him no heed. Yet, he had a few devotees. Word is that they just walked off their jobs to follow him and his wild-eyed doctrines. Had he lost touch with reality? Could it just be that this man was who he claimed to be? Could it be that it is we who have lost touch with reality? Could reality be that we are lost and without hope and desperately in need of the repentance that preacher from Nazareth taught in Capernaum so long ago?

The yoke of sin

We all carry burdens and don’t even know it. There are burdens of guilt, consequences of life’s bad decisions that we or others have made, and the oppressive nature of a world of greed. Some face burdens of child-support or alimony from a failed marriage, children they cannot see because of court orders, infertility, disease, loneliness, household responsibilities, taxes, mountains of red tape, inequity in the workplace and crime and so on. A prophecy in Isaiah 9:1-4 spoke of one who would shatter the yoke that burdens. If our western democracies are really free then we don’t need Jesus. But the truth is, only Jesus can remove the burden of sin. That Old Testament prophecy began to be fulfilled exactly where it was predicted to be, in Capernum along the border of Zebulun and Naphtali (Matthew 4:13).

Light in our darkness

Isaiah prophesied of a light that would begin to dawn in the land of Zebulun and Naphtali. In a world of fear and darkness where is there light? Statesmen travel back and forwards to make peace but there is none. Legislators wrestle with laws to save their people but they are not saved. Lawyers fight to relieve their clients’ burdens, but burdens remain. Armies fight against oppression, but oppression has not ceased. We spend a lifetime building strongholds to protect ourselves but there is no bulletproof protection. Composer of many songs, the ancient Jewish King David sang “the Lord is my light and my salvation.” Matthew 4:15-16 quoted Isaiah with the words, where death casts its shadow, a light shines. Death is the theme of the nightly news. Jesus is the answer that some few speak about but even fewer seek.

Christianity’s "foolish" message

Beginning at Capernaum on Lake Galilee a light began to shine into this dark world (Matthew 4:15-16). Jesus began to publicly announce the kingdom of heaven. The village of Capernaum did not at first receive that message, and so Jesus denounced it. Modern Capernaum stands as a monument to church division with half owned by Franciscans and the other half owned by Greek Orthodox Christians. In our silly squabbles down through Christian history we have often forgotten the power of that light. That unifying message of the cross is considered to be foolishness outside of Christianity (1 Corinthians 1:10-18). Human politics has no power to unite Christians, yet that message does. It is the power of the cross, the power of God. It is a power that we ignore when we squabble over the things that divide us.

The path to change

Repentance is the primary message of Jesus’ preaching (Matthew 4:17; Luke 24:47) but how does this occur? It begins like the Greek word suggests, as a change of heart. That change is a gift from heaven. In the beginning God said, let there be light, and in the beginning of a new creation in us he must shed divine light on our hearts. At first we find the light fascinating and eventually are ashamed of the darkness in us and the world. In humiliation, we will experience a change of heart, a change from arrogance and self-reliance to humility and reliance on God. Shame grows into a hatred of sin and begins to transform our actions. We fall short of perfection but love the light so much more than the darkness, and we love more deeply God’s forgiveness.

What Jesus wants preached

There are a lot of topics that preachers speak about many of which are helpful, but there is always a central theme which Jesus demands. Repentance and the kingdom of heaven are themes with which Jesus began his ministry (Matthew 4:17) and repentance and forgiveness are themes with which he concluded it (Luke 24:47), saying that this would continue to be preached into all the world. Repentance refers to a continual life-changing experience which begins with an initial change of heart and progresses towards an ever growing life of becoming more like God in every way. When we submit to God, we are forgiven all our past wrongdoings and come under the protection of his spiritual kingdom. We grow less interested in the useless pursuits of this world and more interested in living the way of real joy.

Intuitive decisions

Are snap judgments always wrong? Is second guessing a decision made on a whim always good? How many of us have made intuitive decisions on the spur of the moment that have turned out to be the right thing to do? On the other side of the coin, we often see people who make impulsive decisions which they don’t stick with. Is a snap decision like the parable of the seed sown on stony ground that quickly springs up but has not root and no staying power? The disciples’ sudden decision to follow Jesus (Matthew 4:20, 22) seems to contradict that idea. It is appropriate to make some choices speedily, even decisions with lifelong consequences. Going with our instincts can be the right choice. If we trust that Jesus will lead us to green pastures, why delay following him?


What hinders us from following Christ more fully? What nets are holding us back, an overcrowded life or an addiction to something harmful? What do we need to leave behind, a bad habit or a bad attitude? Do we see really Jesus as the Light in a dark world? How willing are we willing to drop everything else from our complicated lives and follow Jesus?

Good News of Real Purpose


What are we here for? What is the purpose of the church? 


To show how important Jesus is to the church.


We will look at why we are here, John the Baptist’s example and the lamb of God.

Why are we here

Have we ever asked ourselves, why are we here? So, here we sit in a church pew, or stand in a church choir, or listen to the Bible preached. But, why are we here? Are we here for the friendship? What about the music? Are we here because of guilt? Are we here because it is the “right thing” to do in our family upbringing? Do we sit in church impatiently waiting for the moment of escape? Do we wish the preacher would sit down and shut up? Do we wish the song leader would suggest that we only sing one verse instead of five? Do we believe that God is here? Do we believe that Jesus, the head of the Church, is here? Do we believe that there is more? Shall we follow Jesus and see (John 1:29-42)?

Titles pretentious and true

We are used to people being given or giving themselves exaggerated titles. Those who insist on being addressed by some accolade, that makes them appear to be more important, are often oblivious to the negative atmosphere that their arrogance causes. Outside of specific cultural circles such as the military, business, church or academia, titles are often irrelevant and can appear to be pretentious. It is with that in mind that we can hear John calling Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, God’s chosen one, and Andrew announcing him as the Messiah (John 1:29-42). Living in a world of phony self-importance can blind us to the reality that sometimes a title is not only deserving, but also an accurate description of someone. Jesus is who they say his is, Savior of the world.

The inviting church

Evangelicalism has a bad rep these days. It seems to have become unfriendly, judgmental and uninviting. Whatever happened to the welcoming Jesus? Whatever happened to the words from John 3:16-18, that God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him? How can we return to being the inviting church? Perhaps we ought to leave the judging to judgment day. Perhaps we ought to focus more on healing and salvation than on the sins which necessitated both. Rather than criticize those who are hurting, perhaps we ought to invite them to be healed. Rather than condemn those in a prison created by the sins of the world, perhaps we ought to invite them to freedom. Perhaps we need to invite them to come and see Jesus (John 1:29-42).

We are not the Messiah

Every preacher worth his salt knows that a pastor is not the Messiah. Every politician worthy of office knows that human leaders are not the Messiah. Every teacher worthy of the title knows that teachers are not the Messiah. Every member of every Christian church needs to know to the depths of their being that we are not the Messiah. Why then do so many have a Messiah complex, delusions of grandeur, an inflated sense of self-importance? Why do so many preachers, politicians and teachers burden themselves with the delusion that they must “save the world”? Like John the Baptist we point to another who is the Messiah. Like a light on a hill we don’t illuminate ourselves but God. We are all appointed missionaries, sent by God to tell the story of Jesus and his love (John 1:29-42).

John the pointer

In Orthodox iconography John the Baptist is often pictured as pointing to a lamb, echoing his words from John 1:29-42 where he declared, “Look! The Lamb of God!” Iconography is an ancient form of visual art designed to portray the most important aspects of a subject’s life. In John’s case, one of the most important features of his life was to point to Jesus. John’s example is important for us today. We can be easily distracted by human politics, traditions and material desires. It can benefit us to look at the example of a man who lived an uncluttered life, with one simple goal, to point to Jesus. What if our lives were more oriented towards Christ? What if our churches focused more on what he taught? Is it not the mission of every Christian to point to Jesus?

Come and you will see

The world is full of gurus promising salvation from various complaints ― like poverty, headaches, big government and old vacuum cleaners. Much of the time, those promises are empty. There is one expert who doesn't make false claims. He actually can provide salvation from something that science cannot, death. His reputation has been sullied in the press and his followers are sometimes obnoxious and self-righteous. However, he does make some interesting and challenging claims. He claims to be the Son of God, God with us. He claims to have taken away the sins of the world. He claims to have the answers. In John 1:29-42 he made a challenge to a couple of men, who were curious. “Come, and you will see.” There is a deeper hint that if we begin to follow Jesus, we will eventually truly see.

First examples of church unity

What would be the first example of the unity of those called out to assemble with Jesus? What can we learn from it in regard to Church unity today? The very first instances of this unity are described in places like John 1:29-42. There was only one teacher, Jesus. There was only one set of doctrines, the teachings of Jesus. As early as the first apostles, differences appeared. 500 years later east and west were culturally and linguistically divided. 1000 years later that division became the Great Schism. 1500 years later, the western church splintered. Our only hope for recapturing unity is in returning to sit at the feet of the master. Perhaps we already do recapture it momentarily. Mainstream pastors often preach the Gospel text from the lectionary. There we again experience unity at the feet of Jesus.

Pioneers and settlers

Whenever there is new territory to be conquered, there are two groups of people awaiting it. The pioneers are early adopters who willingly explore new territory and don’t mind the discomfort of things not completely established. Late adopters are more like settlers, who are willing to take their place after a certain measure of infrastructure has been established. Of course there are people at various stages in between as well. In John 1:29-42 we are introduced to some pioneers of the Christian faith. These were people who willingly changed from the way things were to the new way being heralded by Jesus before there was an established ministry serving growing numbers of congregations. These first few men were the early disciples of Christ. Without visible support, only faith and Jesus as their teacher, they pioneered what we enjoy today.

Lamb of God

In John 1:29-42 Jesus is called the Lamb of God (Latin: Agnus Dei). This associates Jesus with the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:1-28; 1 Corinthians 5:6-8). A common phrase used during communion when the bread is broken remembers John the Baptist’s words, “Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.” Revelation refers to the lamb at the throne (5:6-13), opening the seven seals (6:1-16; 8:1), as the shepherd of the nations (7:9-17), triumph in his blood (12:11), the book of life that belongs to him (13:8), celibates who kept themselves pure (14:1-10), a song to be sung (15:3), his victory (17:14), his wedding (19:7-9; 21:9), his city (21:22-27), the river of the water of life (22:1-3).

Where do we look

In Exodus 29:38-41 we read of the morning and evening burnt lamb offerings. These were among a long list of offerings to continually forgive the people of Israel their sins. Unlike those sacrifices, Jesus offered himself once for the sins of the entire world (Hebrews 7:11-27). That’s why John pointed to Jesus, because he is that Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29-42). That’s why John twice said, look the Lamb of God. That’s why Jesus said, come and you will see. He was talking about seeing more than just the place where he was staying. The one thing that all the forces of evil would love to have us do is take our eyes off Jesus. Yet, it is him we must look to, because salvation is available nowhere else.


Our purpose is to point to Jesus, because there we and others will find the answers.

Good News about Baptism


In Matthew 3 we are introduced to the Baptism of Christ. This ceremony which has become the norm for almost all Christian churches is also the subject of some division and much misunderstanding.


To help us appreciate baptism and its significance.


We will look at what is not mandated for baptism and what it and the meaning of baptism.

The principal sacrament

Baptism can be viewed as a sacrament, a physical act with divine grace, physical ceremonies for the church. The principal sacrament is baptism. Jesus was baptized (Matthew 3:13-17) though the mode is unclear, perhaps purposefully. Baptism pictured a new beginning in Moses for Israel (1 Corinthians 10:2), a new beginning through Noah’s flood (1 Peter 3:20-21), Jesus’ suffering (Luke 12:50) or washing away our sins (Mark 7:4; Titus 3:5). Invoking the name of the Trinity is mandated (Matthew 28:19) but the mode or age are not. Baptism of the Holy Spirit was pictured by fire landing on people’s heads (Acts 1:5; 2:3) and so either placing water on the head or immersion are appropriate. The regeneration of baptism or rebirth differs it from all other ceremonies that could be called sacraments.

If it was good enough for Jesus...

Have you ever heard someone say that if an immersion baptism was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me? We read that Jesus came "up out of the water" after his baptism. The Greek in Matthew 3:16 means Jesus literally came "up away from" the water. It is perhaps purposefully not clear whether he was immersed or merely stood ankle deep. Some early church mosaics and paintings show Jesus standing ankle deep in the Jordan River and John the Baptist using a shell to pour water over him. In this case Jesus would have also come up out of the water when he left. Historical evidence outside the Bible suggest that Jesus probably was immersed, but the Bible record is perhaps purposefully vague. Is the method of baptism not as important as the fact of baptism?

Dippers & washers

Who is right about baptism, the dippers or the washers? Baptize literally means to dip, but in the Bible it is not always used literally. It is also used to mean wash (Mark 7:4; Luke 11:38; Acts 22:16). So both are correct. But doesn’t history tell us that dipping was the original mode? History is not infallible. So, Protestant faith is based on sola scriptura, the Bible alone, and the Bible is deliberately vague as to which mode is preferable. When Jesus came up out of the water after his baptism, it could have been ankle deep (Matthew 3:16). Israel was baptized into Moses by walking dry shod through the Red Sea (1 Corinthians 10:1-4). So, less literal modes of baptism like washing are also legitimate. Dippers and washers are equally baptized into Jesus Christ.

Right or righteous

A choice between two good things is often the most difficult of all. It’s a dilemma to make a decision between doing the right thing versus fulfilling all righteousness. Both choices may be good and right, but which one is God’s will? As Jesus approached John to be baptized (Matthew 3:13-17), the right thing in John’s mind was that he should be baptized by Jesus. Logically, the lesser ought to be baptized by the superior. However, that was not Jesus’ purpose. His purpose at that time was humility not high position. He was born in a stable, served in an itinerant ministry without a building and died on the cross. What was God’s reaction to Jesus’ choice of taking the lesser position? He was well-pleased. How about us? Do we always demand our rights or willingly fulfill all righteousness?

What is baptism

Repentance and baptism for the forgiveness of sins and receiving of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39) included children. Baptism is to wash away sins (Acts 22:16). God can choose to give the Holy Spirit before physical baptism (Acts 10:45-48). It is the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5), a spiritual rebirth. Jesus declared baptism necessary (John 3:5). It is a baptism into Jesus and his death and a new life (Romans 6:3-5). It is also like circumcision (Colossians 2:11-13), performed on children. Three whole households were baptized (Acts 16:15; 16:33; 1 Corinthians 1:16). At least one must have contained children. A baptism is a physical washing (the mode is unimportant), a spiritual washing (cleansing from sin) and must include Jesus' prescribed invocation of Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).

Baptism requirements

A baptism of repentance alone is not the baptism of Christ or his church (Acts 19:1-6). What about a so-called believers’ baptism where belief is a prerequisite? The Ethiopian eunuch was told he could be baptized if he believed (Acts 8:36-38). Being baptized and receiving the Holy Spirit are not always the same event (Acts 8:14-17). God gives the Holy Spirit at a time of his choosing. An infant baptism and later confirmation of faith with laying on of hands to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit are appropriate. What about catechism? Pre-baptism classes are very helpful, but not biblically mandated. Acts 2:41 shows 3,000 baptized after hearing and accepting only one sermon. In churches where Christ’s commands in the Gospels are taught weekly (Matthew 28:20) then every sermon is a catechism anyway.


Baptism is the most important of all the sacraments. It is more important than marriage or whether we take communion weekly, monthly or annually. It is the initiatory rite into this wonderful journey we call Christianity. It begins our journey from the kingdoms of this world into the kingdom of God.

Good News for Foreign Astrologers


Do members of foreign religions sometimes offer God greater honor than we who follow the Bible? Does God work through non-Christian religions to bring people to himself? What do the babylonian captivity of ancient Israel, a pagan religion and worldly politics have to do with the birth of Christ?


To show that we cannot limit God to our narrow vision of the world.


We will look at brutal human leadership, an ancient foreign religion, the Magi and the gifts they brought to Christ.

The Herods

In Matthew 2:1 we are introduced to Herod. The name applied to a dynasty of foreign Edomite (i. e. Idumean) kings. As clients of Rome their rule included Galilee and Judea during the time of Christ. They were known for military expertise, cruelty and being lovers of luxury. As subcontractors to the Roman Emperor, they enforced Roman rule, took taxes in the form of money, food and merchandise, and kept order. While taking taxes for Rome, they were also free to take for themselves. The excessive tax burdens led to unbearable poverty which, along with the imposition of emperor worship, led to frequent revolts by zealots. It was a precarious position with threats all around. So, the kingdom of God, while not of this world, was understood as a political force by the disciples, Jewish leaders and the Romans.

Former captors celebrate Jesus?

Jews were deported from their own land into Babylonian captivity during the 500’s BC. At that time the chief of the magi was Nergal-Sharezer. They were the wise men of Babylon, priests, physicians, alchemists and astrologers. Their influence was widespread throughout much of the middle east. They most likely came into contact with teachings of the Hebrew Scriptures during the Jewish Babylonian captivity and mixed them into their own religion. Many Jews did not return from exile in Babylon and may have had further influence on the religion of the magi. The particular magi who came to visit the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:1) could have come from virtually anywhere east of Jerusalem such as Persia, Babylon, Arabia, or India. It was 500 years later, a long time. National tragedy can be used by God to bring people to Jesus.

The Magi

Ever since we were children we have heard of the visit of the Magi after Jesus was born (Matthew 2:1). Who were they? The Greek term is magoi. Friberg defines this as wise men of the Magian religion, magicians or sorcerers. Louw and Nida prefer “men of wisdom who studied the stars.” An ancient historian, Herodotus of Halicarnassus called them interpreters of omens and dreams who perhaps still sacrificed to Persian gods. They were possibly baptized into the church many years later by the apostle Thomas while on his way to plant churches in India. Why did pagans show more belief than followers of God? Herod had access through the Jews who had even easier access, but most of them chose not to be interested. What is our reaction to the birth of Jesus?

Babylonian captivity & Christmas

How does Israel’s Babylonian Captivity tie in with Christmas? What if our country was conquered by a foreign nation and large numbers of our population were exiled, taken captive for about 60 years? We have never experienced that, but historically native Americans and African Americans have. English history in Australia and the U.S. State of Georgia was begun by exiling prisoners to form a population base. During Israel’s captivity the current Babylonian Hebrew alphabet began. Jeremiah, 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Daniel and several deuterocanonical books recorded it. Many Jews never returned home. It was probably also their first major contact with the Magi, who were the sacred class in ancient Babylon. Their knowledge was a mixture of astrological superstition, semi-scientific alchemy, magic and early Zoroastrianism. It was descendants of this group who honored Jesus’ birth (Matthew 2:1).

The worship

When the Magi inquired about Jesus in Matthew 2:2 they said that they had come to worship him. This upset Herod who plotted to kill Jesus. These wise men of the east did not come merely to honor Jesus, but to worship him. When Jesus was tempted by Satan he was told to bow down and worship the devil. But Jesus replied that worship is something reserved only for God (Matthew 4:10), and he told the devil to leave. In Greek, the same wording is used for when a leper, a synagogue leader, the disciples, a gentile woman and Zebedee’s wife also worshiped Jesus (Matthew 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 20:20; 28:9, 17). Although it is popular for people to think of Jesus as merely a good man, he was God with us.

Bringing pagans to Christ

How can we bring people of different religions to Christ? Over the years I’ve seen many different approaches all the way from outright insults to arguments showing them the “error of their ways” and numerous more tactful approaches. How about letting God bring them to Christ? That’s what happened to the Magi. How God did it is also interesting. Magi were astrologers among other things. How would God bring an astrologer to Christ? God has used many ways to reveal himself to people. In this case he used their own religion and revealed his purpose in a manner that they would understand, a star. There is nothing to be found of Old Testament language of condemnation for these pagans, but rather a gentle leading to the place of Christ’s birth even using elements of their own faith (Matthew 2:2).

The politics

When the wise men from Babylon or Persia inquired about Jesus (Matthew 2:3) they had no idea of the politics involved. They only wanted to worship the Messiah and seem to have naively believed that others would too. However, there were a lot of power plays threatened by this news. Israel was ruled by a brutal foreign king, Herod, who was a client of the Roman Emperor. Herod was vulnerable. He had encountered trouble with Rome and Jewish zealots before and had brutally murdered many other potential rivals. Jewish leaders had made an uneasy peace with the devil by cooperating with Rome and its puppet king Herod. They had profited by this compromise and zealots rising up to free Judea were a threat to their arrangement. The kingdom of heaven and its Messiah were a political threat all around.

Jewish influence on the Magi

Of about a million Jews living in Babylonian captivity only about 42,000 returned to Jerusalem. The rest remained in the Persian Empire. Unlike their relatives who had returned they had peace and protection for a thousand years. Over the next 1500 year history of the diaspora in Babylon, the head of the Jewish community was always a descendant of king David and had noble status in community life. It was here that the current Hebrew script was invented and the Babylonian Talmud was written. As Jews intermingled with Babylonian society and some possibly even intermarried, the Hebrew Scriptures would have eventually influenced local religions. Median Priests, the Magi, had great prestige in Babylon. Their political power included approving who would be king and they appointed judges. They believed in one god and were influenced by ideas of a Messiah.

The gifts

The gifts given to Jesus in Matthew 2:11 were gold, frankincense and myrrh. The number of the wise men is taken from the three gifts, but they could have been as many as twelve people according to eastern tradition. Gold was a gift for royalty. Frankincense and myrrh are aromatic herbs with healing properties. Frankincense comes from the sap of Boswellia trees and used for incense, perfume and anointing oil (Exodus 30:32-34). As a gift it possibly symbolized Jesus' high priestly office. Myrrh comes from the sap of Commiphora trees, is bitter and another ingredient of anointing oil. As a preservative is was used to anoint the dead and thus foretold Jesus’ death on the cross. The gifts may have been seen as prophetic and symbolic of Christ as king, high priest and suffering savior.

A gift to bring

Some foreign dignitaries with a completely different religion recognized Christ and brought a gift. Herod did not. Instead he plotted to kill the Christ child. The powerful often do not seek to give others recognition but to remain in power. It’s something that we see in our western democracies and is the same story no matter the form of government down through history. The story of the wandering astrologers, the Magi tells us that things are about to change. Non-Jews would soon be embraced by God. Herod did not offer a gift. He feared change, feared that his position may be about to be taken away. When we hear of a change in God’s way of doing things, we can choose to fear and threaten or bring a gift to the Messiah. What gift do we bring (Matthew 2:11)?

What gifts we bring

As we think of the story of the Magi, it is natural to ask about what gifts we bring to the Christ. The Magi did not bring money, though that would have been a very useful gift for Jesus’ parents, but we do have other things that we can offer. One of the greatest gifts that we can bring to Jesus is our attendance in his presence every chance we get. We call this discipleship. As we listen to what he has to teach, we offer a gift by putting it into practice. He calls that being doers and not just hearers of the word. That means that we show love to God and neighbor, that we show compassion to others, that we forgive as he forgave, that we practice the way of self-sacrifice offering our whole selves to him.

Magi facts and fiction

The western tradition of three magi comes from the number of gifts that they gave. Eastern traditions suggests that there may have been twelve. While they were certainly high officials, it is a myth that they were kings. That idea possibly arose around the 8th century in trying to retrofit Psalm 72:11 which was not meant to be quite that time-specific in nature. The names Melchior (a Persian scholar or king), Caspar (an Indian) and Balthazar (an Arabian) are also probably also fictitious embellishments because they came from one country (Matthew 2:12). The Christmas Nativity Scene is often but not always a montage of two events, Jesus born in a stable and the magi visiting him later in a house. What is significant is that among the first to recognize Jesus as ruler of Israel were foreigners.


Members of pagan religions sometimes offer God greater honor than believers in the Bible. God often works through non-Christian religions to bring people to himself. We cannot limit God to our narrow vision of the world. If leaders of a pagan religion offered expensive gifts to Christ, what do we offer?
Friberg, Timothy, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller. Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament. Baker's Greek New Testament Library. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000. BibleWorks, v.3
Louw-Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 1989, United Bible Societies