After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”
Since my fiancee, Claire, lives in Northern Ireland, I often find myself flying between Gatwick and Belfast. (Indeed, I am writing this very article sat on an easyJet plane!) Belfast is about 500 miles from where I live, and air travel is remarkably tedious. I have to get to the airport in plenty of time, head through security where my bag is regularly checked and I am often searched, then hang around in the departures lounge, before more waiting at the gate, boarding the plane, and eventually taking off. Then I have to sit on a plane for over an hour, pass through arrivals, and then eventually I’ve arrived! It’s always worth making the trip, though. It’s worth all the effort because I get to see Claire!
My trip to Belfast is nothing compared with that of the wise men, however. Their journey would have been approximately 800 miles, and since easyJet did not operate at this time, it would probably have taken them about forty days to reach the location of Jesus’ birth. They clearly thought that Jesus was someone rather special to travel for that long, and endure the obvious discomfort that such a journey would entail, otherwise they would never have set out. These people were not even Jewish, waiting for their messiah! Somehow, they knew about the prophecy of the Old Testament (Numbers 24:17 says that, “A star shall come out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel”), and recognised the importance of this event.
Sometimes, particularly if we have been Christians for a long time, we become almost immune to the miracle of the Christmas story. We hear it year after year, and probably know it off by heart. This Christmas, though, reflect on the journey the wisemen made. They recognised the significance of the birth of Christ, and travelled a great distance to pay homage to him. They really put themselves out for Jesus. Do we ever do the same? Or do we push him aside when we get busy, and have other things to do.