by Sam J Christopher
The characters in the traditional Christmas play that always has me puzzled are the 3 bearded chaps wrapped in bedspreads, singing “We 3 kings of Orient-R”. Never heard of a country called Orient-R. Doesn’t show up in Google Maps either.
Checking the Gospels,
Mark - completely ignored all accounts of Jesus’ birth.
John - is more enthralled by Words and Lights to even think about the baby days of the Son of God.
Luke - (doctor by training, I’m told), ever the meticulous writer, had the brilliant presence of mind (must be the college training) to put in writing, things he had seen and heard concerning the man Jesus. You can actually feel his adrenalin-pumping exuberance as he narrates the astoundingly glorious public announcement of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds, by God’s angels, bathed in His Divine glory. Strangely though, Luke seemingly never heard of these eastern strangers and their trip to the Royal Jewish palace. What? Stories of foreign gold-bearing “intellectuals” declaring a new baby Jewish king (while the old one still sat on the throne) never reached Luke’s ears? Strange, that even the barbaric city-wide massacre of toddlers did not move the doctor to associate those “wise” men with the one special baby heralded by angels themselves? Hmm. Definitely strange enough to warrant a re-look at Matthew’s narrative.
Matthew painstakingly lays out details of celestial visitations of the personal kind (of Zaccharias, Joseph and Mary), complete with embarrassing PG-rated details. He even took the trouble to quote Scripture whenever he felt that Scripture was fulfilled in some of the incidences. But curiously, he does not think it pertinent to include anything whatsoever about the other glorious celestial visitation (in the fields where the shepherds lay) proclaiming the Divine birth of the Saviour.
He then goes on to recount how “wise” men came to town with claims of having seen a star in their kingdom (that's Orient R). According to them, it was a sign that a new king was born to the Jews – sort of like a weather report – “…and this blip here means that there will be torrential rains later this evening followed by the birth a new king of the Jews….”
So straight to the
palace they trooped and asked the chap sitting in the oversized chair, “Where is the new king?” Jerusalem
Now, I am guilty of watching too many 3 Stooges clips, but this just about takes the cake. That feller with the glitzy thing on his head, surrounded by guards with sharp weapons, couldn’t have been mistaken for the butler, could he? Come on lah! Asking His Royal Highness Herod, “Where is the new King?” Sheesh! Did these “wise” men leave their grey matter behind in Orient-R? Why do we keep calling these guys “wise” men?
Okey dokey, no new baby king here in the palace, and so off they go searching again. Lo and behold! Just as they stepped out of the palace, that same “star” suddenly re-appears and leads them on, finally coming to a stop above a house.
Excuse me while I clear the cobwebs out from between my ears. Hello? A STAR leading the way? How low will a STAR have to be in order to lead the way in between streets and finally stop over a particular house? I’ll bet, you and I wouldn’t even know which building our friendly neighborhood PDRM chopper was hovering over. Were those guys really “wise” men with the scholarly gift of “reading” the weekly horoscope column, or were they mere star-struck travelers who stumbled across the border, blindly following what “appeared” to be a “star” (probably from having a few too many for the road)?
So, what do we have?
1 Luke and the other 2 gospel writers never mention the “wise” men episode (that’s 3 against 1).
2 Until Matthew writes about the “wise” men, no one since Genesis, has ever heard of a “star” heralding the birth of any “King of the Jews”.
3 Clownish behavior in the royal palace (expecting Herod to be thrilled to hear about a “new” king of the Jews) cannot be the hallmark of “wise” men.
4 Impossible for a real “star” to be leading the way through town (even if traffic was low) and stopping over a particular house! (and laser pointers weren’t in the shops yet then).
5 Falling down in worship doesn’t automatically denote that this is the kind of true worship that is to be accorded to Jesus, especially when it is immediately followed by offering materialistic gifts of gold (think Sibu 2010 and the 3
). Methodist Churches
6 Eventually, the “wise” men gave no praise or glory whatsoever to God for this historic event, but rather actually triggered a terrible, merciless massacre of countless infants and toddlers in the streets of
7 Retrospectively, the whole episode of the “wise” men was nothing but a tragic publicity disaster, designed behind the scenes by an evil schemer and played out by gullible fools on the stage of the world, complete with a sound-and-light show (Hmm. Sounds quite like some of our “revival” rallies, no?).
Contrast this with the Doc’s narrative, (based on what was widely spoken about by the folks living at that time):
1 God’s GLORY shone all around when His angel (not a strange light but a recognizable angel and his celestial army) appeared to shepherds with a very specific message.
2 Only the birth of a SAVIOUR (which conforms to Mary’s angelic testimony) and a MESSIAH (which pointed to the Scripture as the basis of reference) was announced by God’s angel. No mention of “king-of-the-Jews”.
3 SPECIFIC signs of the baby-in-a-manger were told in unconfusing detail by God’s angel (in those days it was simply not “hip” to have new-born babies, of the human kind, laid out in the cow’s feeding trough, especially at night).
4 Praises to God in the Highest rang out in the sky immediately following the announcement, which left no doubts in the mind of the shepherds (and Luke) that this revelation was truly from God.
5 EXACTLY as God’s angel had told them, the shepherds found Jesus (without getting lost anywhere) and they glorified God (and Him alone) and broadcast it to everyone and everywhere (thus eventually reaching Luke’s ears)
6 Luke claims perfect understanding of all these things, puts it all in writing and thus begins his story of this Jesus, that we might “know the certainty of those things” which we have been instructed in (Luke 1:4).
See how the above summary of Luke’s account of the shepherds clearly points to God and spells G-O-S-P-E-L?