What the Wise Men Knew
Rt. Rev. Peter M. Buss
Children, you have heard once again the lovely story of the wise men, who were some of the luckiest people alive when the Lord was born, because they were allowed to see Him. Very few people did see Him, but the wise men really deserved to do so, because they had to do a lot of work to see Him.
You see, they lived in a country far, far away, in Syria, and they were wise in the best things. Some people have thought that they were kings, and they have thought this because of the wonderful presents they brought, which cost a lot of money, but the Word doesn't say they were kings. It says they were wise men. They learned things, and they learned the best things. In their country there were teachings left over from the Ancient Word, which is now lost, and they learned from that. And in that Word it told about the Lord, the King who would be born, and how a special star would be seen when He was born.
Now the wise men cared a great deal for the Lord and His teachings, and therefore they were the only ones, the only ones in all the world, who saw the star and knew what it meant. Others may have seen it, but the wise men knew that the most wonderful happening of all time had now taken place. So they left all their work, and set out, to go to find the Lord, and to worship Him.
It took them a long time. The wise men didn't get to Bethlehem until at least forty days after the Lord had been born, for we know that at forty days the Lord was taken to Jerusalem, and we know that when the wise men did come, the Lord was called a "young child, " and was then in a house somewhere in Bethlehem. So they had to work hard, not only to know about the star, but also to watch faithfully for it; and then to follow it.
That star must have been a special light from heaven itself, a light telling about the Lord of heaven. For when they got to Jerusalem, the light couldn't shine. It couldn't shine because the most wicked king on earth was in Jerusalem, and other terribly bad people, who were ruining the church, were there too. The star disappeared, and they had to ask where the Lord would be born; and imagine how surprised they must have been to find that no one else even knew that He had been born.
But after they left Jerusalem, then the star showed them the way again, and they came to where the Lord was.
They came in and worshiped Him, and gave Him their presents. You know, children, there is something very wonderful indeed about those presents. Of course they were expensive presents, but that was not what made them wonderful. What was so special was that the wise men were probably the last people to know why it was that those presents, and only those, should be given to the baby Lord. They were the last persons to know what those presents stand for, until we were told again, in the Writings. For each of those presents stands for something that we must also give to the Lord our King, and the wise men knew that. That was why they brought them all the way from their land, and that was why they gave them in the order they did.
Gold, the most precious metal, stands for the love of our hearts. We should give love to the Lord who brings us happiness forever, shouldn't we? Our first present to the Lord should be the love of our hearts. Frankincense stands for the thoughts of our minds. That means that we should make our minds think the kind of thing that the Lord has taught us to think. If we think and speak the truth, then the thoughts of our minds are given as a present to the Lord. And myrrh, which was a special ointment for rubbing on the body, stands for the good things which we do with our bodies. It means that we use our bodies to serve the Lord, to do the kind of thing He wants to be done. This too can be a present to the Lord.
Therefore, when the wise men gave their presents they were saying in their hearts that they offered to their Lord the love of their hearts, and the thoughts of their minds, and the work of their hands and bodies. They gave everything they had to serve the Lord, and do what He says. Those are the gifts the Lord really wants, aren't they? And the wonderful thing is that the wise men knew what their presents meant. And today, we also can know what they mean. When we think of what we should do at Christmas for the Lord, Who has given us so much, we can know that we too can give just what the wise men gave - not gold, and frankincense, and myrrh, but our love, our thoughts, and our work, to the service of our King.
-New Church Home 1976;41:74-76