MissionsPersonal Development

Who were the 3 Wise Men? The Purpose of their Journey


If I tell you the names and the story the 3 Wise Men — Balthasar of Arabia, Melchior of Persia, and Gaspar, do you know where they are from? From Armenian tradition. They were not from the Bible. The Bible did not specify the number of Wise Men either.

However, there were 3 gifts, gold, myrrh and frankincense which could be the reason many people believe there were 3 Wise men. But let me first call your attention to a specific verse below:

“4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:”  Matt 2:4,5

From the passage above you can tell exactly how these religious leaders and experts of the law showed their faith in their Messiah.  They knew the Savior they represent would be born in Bethlehem according to their Holy Scriptures.  But these religious people had chosen to stay in the comfort of their homes. Compared to the Wise Men who traveled a thousand-mile bringing their gifts… for what purpose?

The Wise Men’s Purpose

Here’s the story.   A delegation of Wise men from the East arrived at King Herod’s castle in Jerusalem.   Elegant looking, these Magi possesses extraordinary skills and knowledge in astrology, dream interpretation, sacred writings, magic, and religion.  

King’s special advisers could be their official title like those wise men during Daniel’s time in the Old Testament.   Along with soldiers to protect them from bandits, they had just trekked a thousand-mile riding in camels coming from the East (Persia or Babylon).

Using the Star as a GPS, or the present-day Waze app, the Magi traveled from the East to the capital city of Israel, Jerusalem.

Looking for the baby Jesus, the Wise men logically went directly to King Herod’s castle. Newborn king lives in King’s castle. Tired from the long journey, the Magi expressed their explicit purpose of visit, to WORSHIP the newborn king!

Upon arrival at Herod’s palace, they asked: “where is the newborn king of the Jews?” The reigning King Herod got distressed he didn’t see this coming threat. I think he pretended to be cool.  The Bible says “…he was disturbed and all Jerusalem with him.”  Maybe King Herod’s poker face hid his temper in the presence of his royal guests.

King Herod, The Great Insecurity

Let me explain. There are Six Herods in the New Testament.  Wait.  Thinking of a biblical name for your unborn child? Not Herod, please.   Don’t pick Judas either.  King Herod the Great was not a Jew but from the lineage of Esau (Arabs) not Jacob (Israel). 

He was a famous master builder.  He restored the Temple of Solomon and built many theaters, cities, palaces, and fortresses.   Herod ruthlessly killed those suspected threats to his throne. He murdered his own wife and he killed also several sons. 

So yes, Herod played along with the Wise Men when he called the chief priests or the modern-day pastors asking them where the Messiah was to be born.   In unison, the religious experts shouted “ In Bethlehem” plus they quoted the Bible reference text.  

That’s a place about 5 miles south of Jerusalem.  Not too far,  compared to the thousand miles trip by the Magi coming from either Persia or Babylon, the modern-day Iran or Iraq.

Worshiping with Gifts

Again what’s the sole purpose of their trip ?— v2 “to worship Him”.!!  Did those religious experts intend to visit their real King? Nope.  Maybe they’re afraid of losing their high paying job.   Herod treacherously met with the Magi secretly to decipher how old Jesus would be by then. 

Then he asked them to search the child, —“as soon you find him, report to me so so I can worship him too”.      The Wise men found the child Jesus on a house. No longer in a manger as depicted by many artworks nowadays.  

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 

11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 

12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.” Matt 2:9-12

Herod was furious, he massacred the innocent children 2 years and under.

Who are the Religious Professionals?

Let’s go back to those religious professionals who stayed at the comfort of their job or home.    They chose to worship King Herod, instead of worshipping the real King.  To us, Herod can represent the comfort and convenience of materialism.  When a Christian chooses the god of mammon isn’t we become a disgrace to the God we represent?

Many religious leaders and pastors know the Bible well, but not teach well.   But sadly they did not walk that humbling 5 miles trek to worship a suffering Messiah.  Not walking the talk.      Knowledge of prophecy, revelation or tribulation, pre or post-tribulation could be impressive as pastors, preachers, Bible Study leaders, but character and the fruit of the Spirit are the higher standards.

 Being vulnerable is like unmasking our imposter self. In our relationships, the testing comes when people come into our sacred homes.  Maybe a good Herod could have prepared a banquet before he let go of the Wise Men. 

The gift of hospitality sometimes no longer happen in the ministry, especially when our leaders neglect to show hospitality to strangers.  (Heb 13:2). Inviting church people into our home starts with leadership.

On their visit to Jerusalem, the Wise Men sacrificed their time, talent and resources.   They made a huge effort traveling thousands of miles, several weeks on that dangerous, sandy stormy roads. Just for the purpose of worshipping the King and Savior. 

The Wise Men did not seem to be judgmental on how Mary, Joseph and the child Jesus look like as poor peasants.  They believed in that Star in the sky, their research, and their skill set. 

Nowadays we have the convenience of cars, air-conditioned church,  but how many miles or km will it take you to go to worship? What kind of effort, sacrifices or gifts you can offer to signify your love and worship?

The Challenge

Finally, consider Mary and Joseph- when God called them as instruments to give birth to the Messiah.   “Let it be to me according to your word “ Lk 1:30 They gave their all and trusted God for provision, the gifts of the Magi to name a few.  

During the end term of Mary’s pregnancy,  they traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem  90 miles.   Later on, when Jesus turned 2 years old, they traveled from Bethlehem to Egypt (350 miles).

That is, to escape Herod’s massacre of the innocents.   Then when Herod died they went back to Nazareth coming from Egypt, which is about 400 miles.  (see Arthur Blessitt’s Miles Jesus and Mary walked, www.blessit.com).

Still, our modern means of transportation today — the high tech cars, the superhighways are incomparable to their traveling experience..

This Christmas time we may spend more time in the mall or shopping online as the reason for this season.  Celebration but missing the celebrant. We will never run out of excuses for going to church, Bible Study or in worshipping Him. Ministry is the overflow of our relationships with Him.

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