A Sunday School Lesson: How many wise men? Part 2

By Sidney Terhune - Religion Writer

Jesus’s part in God’s plan for the redemption of man was so vital that he was ever foreknown and foretold, but he was not God the Father nor God the Son. He was the redeemer of the world.

The redeemer’s actual existence began with his conception and birth to a woman named Mary about 2,000 years ago. Born of divine conception into a world that was bent on killing him from his birth, the Christ would ultimately fulfill his God-given mission as savior of the world.

Take your Bible NIV and read Matt 2:11, where we learn that the Magi gave Joseph and Mary three types of gifts but make no mention of how many gifts. The gifts of gold could have included many items, i.e. chains, bracelets, necklaces, jewelry, coins, etc. The point here is that God in all His goodness wanted to make sure the Holy Family was super-sized financially before sending them to Egypt. The tradition that the family of Jesus was always dirt-poor is anti-Bible. Does anybody really believe God would allow Joseph and Mary, the guardians of His only begotten son, to have a lack of ANYTHING? Read 2 Cori 3:5 and 9:8 KJV and NIV, about believers (including you and me), having God’s sufficiency in ALL things.

The Magi’s stay in Bethlehem was brief. Matt 2:12, 13 NIV states, “And (the Magi, religious Gentiles of Persia) having been warned in a dream….” The word “dream” here and in Matt 2:19, 22; 27:19, is the Greek word onar meaning “vision.” The Magi were not sleeping when they received visions warning them not to return to King Herod. This is the reason they returned to their own country (Persia) by another route.

After the Magi departed from Bethlehem, Gabriel (God’s angel of messages), told Joseph to pack up his family and possessions and flee to Egypt. (Matt 2:13, 14 KJV). Some Hollywood movies depict this scene as having Joseph walking into the sunset pulling a donkey with Mary uncomfortably atop holding baby Jesus. I wasn’t there, but here is how I would set the scene: A short time after Gabriel’s visit, Joseph barters and trades several of his new gifts for a donkey with a first-class cart. The three of them then ride, not walk, comfortably with their stuff into the night. Four months later in April 1 B.C., Gabriel appears to Joseph in Egypt and informs him that it is safe to return to Israel for Herod is dead. (Matt 2:19-23 KJV).

We learned in PART ONE that Jesus Christ was born on a Wednesday, Sept. 11, 3 B.C., between 6:18 p.m. and 7:39 p.m., Palestine time. In December, 2 B.C., after their meeting with Herod in Jerusalem, the Magi arrived in Bethlehem at Joseph’s rented house (not the traditional stable; Matt 2:11), with a goal to worship the Christ child who was around age 15 months. After that meeting, the Magi departed for Persia and sometime later Joseph, Mary and Jesus fled to Egypt.

Herod’s execution of children occurred after the Magi departed Bethlehem. In reading Matt 2:16 NIV, Herod calculated from what he had learned from the Magi that the child he was seeking was probably age 15 months. To give himself a margin for error, however, he ordered that boys only, between the ages of 0 to 2 years, be put to death.

Four months later in April 1 B.C., Herod died and his son Archelaus, the new king of Judea, disrupts Passover; Joseph, Mary, and Jesus return to Israel from Egypt and “turn aside” into Galilee and settle in their hometown of Nazareth. (Matt 2:21-23). So, to answer the burning question “How many wise men?” Since the number is not revealed anywhere in God’s Word, we do not know. This concludes the story of the Magi. Amen.

Sidney Terhune

P. O. Box 6 Wash. Ct. Hs., OH

By Sidney Terhune

Religion Writer