The wise men, who came from the east to worship Jesus, are the most mysterious characters of Christmas. No one knows exactly when these wise ones began their journey. Some conclude it may have been as long as two years before their arrival in Jerusalem.
Those who hold to the two year view do so because King Herod had been especially interested in finding out when the wise men first saw the star that guided them on their way and later, in his effort to prevent anyone else from eventually becoming king, executed all the children in that area under two years of age, which Matthew says, was because of the time frame given to him by the wise men (Matthew 2).
Where did these mysterious men come from?
Nobody knows for sure, but the most interesting theory locates their home in the area once occupied by the Babylonian Empire. Daniel, the prophet, had been held captive in Babylon (now Iraq), and some believe the wise men had started their journey as the result of studying his writings about prophecy and his homeland.
We do know the wise men arrived late for Christmas. While often portrayed in manger scenes, the Biblical account says they were not at the manger but, arriving later, found Joseph, Mary and the baby in a house in Bethlehem. There they fell down and
worshipped the one they had been seeking and presented him their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2:10-11)
Why did the wise men arrive late for Christmas?
They made the same mistake millions still make during this sacred season.
When these travelers reached Jerusalem, they stopped following the star and headed for the palace of the king.
After being delayed and interrogated by King Herod, they were told by his advisors that, according to the Scripture bearing on this long anticipated event (Micah 5:2), the prophesied king was to be born in Bethlehem. Heeding then this Biblical advice, the wise men backtracked from Jerusalem, saw the star again and followed it to Bethlehem where they found the one they’d been seeking so long.
The wise men arrived late for Christmas because they stopped following the star that had guided them so far and chose a direction that appealed to their concept of kingly protocol. They were searching for a king so went to a palace. It was only when they
were advised about the prophetic specifics of this amazing plan that they rediscovered the star which then guided them to the one they had traveled so far to find.
These meandering Magi not only presented the newborn king with valuable gifts but have given some to all the generations that followed. One of the most important of these is learning to follow the light given to us. Had the wise men stayed with this principle they would have avoided the detour that caused them to miss the manger, the shepherds and the angelic chorus.
God gives His best to those wise ones who follow Him…all the way.