Last week, we visited the babe Jesus along with the shepherds. But they weren’t the only ones to search for the King of the Jews.
Wise men came from the east. We aren’t sure how many came, but we know why they came: they saw a special star.
It was fun to imagine what it might have been like for Mary to receive these important men into her home. Yes, my setting might be different than anything you’ve imagined. Please don’t let that keep you from enjoying the “what if” of this incredible event.
From Chapter Nine of A Pondering Heart:
And still, I had no idea how the star would have announced who Jesus was to these men. I clutched the corners of my headdress. Should I admit them? A compulsion to honor their request pushed at my chest.
“Welcome,” I said, motioning for the men to enter through the wooden door, still ajar from my hasty exit.
Sarai’s mouth gaped. I shooed her away, promising, with my eyes, to fill her in later. I followed the strangers, who clustered together, filling the small room and pointing to Jesus. I circled around them, afraid of the wide-eyed look on my son’s face. My bare feet whispered across the dirt floor.
My bare feet! I wasn’t even fully clothed. How could I be receiving these important men in such a state? I folded myself onto the floor behind Jesus, rubbing his downy brown hair.
My son dropped the block he held beside the small tower he’d constructed. Using my outstretched hand, he pulled himself to his feet. Though he’d been walking for a few months, he still preferred to climb up something in order to stand. Without hesitation, he stepped toward the cluster of strangers, who immediately ceased speaking.
I slid along the floor behind him, always within arm’s reach, one hand propelling me forward and the other hiding my dirt-caked feet beneath my skirt.
As if in the throne room of Herod, the men knelt in front of my son, removing their turbans and bowing their heads. Jesus touched each of them in turn. His pudgy baby hand looked so small and pale against their black hair. The men murmured in their fast, clipped language when he stood beside them. Not once did they lift their faces from the floor. I had never seen such complete obeisance outside the temple walls.
These wealthy travelers worshiped Jesus. Somehow, they understood his prophesied destiny. The angel’s words echoed in my mind, drowning the foreign voices, “The Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever.”
A shadow passed in front of the door. One of the Easterners rose to his feet and spoke with the enormous black servant. Jesus lingered over the fourth man, his fingers fondling the dark brown hair.
“You honor me, Lord of Creation,” the man said in Aramaic.
Jesus turned away, waddling past me and plopping down next to his stack of blocks. The audience with these men had ended for my sweet boy of fifteen months. He picked up the stray block and set it atop the tower, smiling when the tower didn’t collapse.
“We brought gifts,” the man said, standing now. He’d replaced the turban atop his head and it sat slightly askew.
I battled my desire to straighten it or smile at the lopsided display. I did neither. Instead, I nodded. It was customary for visitors to present gifts to royalty. My humble home, as clean, cozy, and peaceful as it might be, didn’t seem appropriate for such an exchange.
One of the red-robed men stepped forward, bowing over his outstretched hands. In palms similar in color to mine, he held an ornate box engraved with foreign symbols. When I extended my hands, he placed the box in them. I stumbled forward at the weight. It was hardly an empty box.
I sidled over to the table, trying not to turn my back on our guests. I opened the lovely lid and gasped.
Inside, gold coins stamped with the Roman governor’s likeness glinted in the sunlight slanting through the window. It was more gold than I had ever seen in one place. It must be enough for several years’ wages for the wealthiest man in Nazareth.
I returned to the man and inclined my head as I had seen Joseph do when showing deference to someone. “What an amazing gift! You honor my son. Thank you.”
The words felt inadequate in the face of such wealth. Even now, thinking back on it, I struggle to find any suitable expression for the gratitude I felt.
He bowed, backing away from me. The man who spoke Aramaic whispered something to him.
The other red-robed man bowed before me. In his extended hands he held a fired vessel. With intricate designs painted on the nearly white sides and a sealed lid stoppering the top of the bottle, I guessed it must contain some sort of perfume or oil. I nodded toward him as my fingers closed around the exotic container.
“A wonderful gift. Many thanks,” I said. The man backed away, bowing repeatedly.
The dark-skinned man stepped forward, his stride billowing his deep purple cloak like the mane on a galloping horse. He knelt on one knee and balanced a small pot on his other. Again, the vessel looked like a perfume or oil container. The small opening at the top was corked with wax. A sparkling stone pressed into the wax would act as a handle. When he handed me the etched urn, I thanked him.
While placing the gorgeous pottery on the table, I stared at the stone. It was a deep purplish red. Had I ever seen anything like it in my life?
The first three men turned away and left me alone with the fourth man, who held a bag sewn from brightly colored cloth. An intricate pattern repeated over the shiny fabric. I took it, surprised by its weight.
“To you our gifts seem weighty,” he said. I knew he referred to the costliness, but his choice of words when I struggled to heft the bag onto the table almost made me smile.
I nodded and opened my mouth to reply. He held up his hand in the universal signal for stop. I pinched my lips together.
“For generations, we have studied the sky, waiting for a sign that the deliverer had been born. It gives us joy to kneel in his presence and offer these tokens of our wonder, amazement, and adoration.”
I hope you’ve enjoyed experiencing this season of joy through the heart and eyes of Mary. You can read the rest of the story on Kindle for less than a dollar.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!