This story of the Magi I am about to tell focuses on the journey – and like many stories – it has an allegorical aspect to it – that is to say people or events in the story can be taken to represent people or events in our own life stories.
Christian life, the life of God’s people, is most often represented in the bible and in literature, as a journey. – a journey that begins with our confession of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour, and ends when we at last meet him and the Father, face to face, in God’s heavenly kingdom.
The story of the Magi is our story for that very reason. It is also our story because the Magi were, according to tradition, the very first Gentiles to whom God revealed his purpose in Christ Jesus and who, in the end, not only worshipped Jesus, but met him face to face.
Now the story:
He was tired, the journey had been long and very hard at times, and despite the companionship that he enjoyed on the way, he had often found himself feeling discouraged. But for all that -tonight was special- his journey was over and he felt a peace in his heart he had never felt before.
It had all begun months earlier – it seemed like years now – when he had noticed a new star in the heavens, a star that did not belong there one that had never been there before.
At first he thought that he had made a mistake, that the charts that he had relied upon for years were in error, but as night followed upon night he saw that the star moved, that it was changing position against the familiar constellations. Finally, – certain of his discovery, and not sure what to make of it, he told another astrologer at the Shah’s court about what he had found.
Events followed fairly quickly then… at first anyway.
After his discovery was confirmed by his friend, all the Shah’s astrologers and soothsayers gathered to observe the star and to discuss what it meant. After a few days of intense debate, days in which astrological charts were cast in the dozens, and clerks scurried back and forth with complicated calculations; after an incredible amount of work and confusion, it was decided that the star signaled the birth of a new king, in fact of a great king – and that this king had been born, or was about to be born, in a land somewhere to the west of them.
For another few weeks various attempts were made to discover what king had been born in the western lands or what Queen was expecting a child, but, because there was no news to be had from those far lands and because the Shah still expected advice every day and couples still wanted charts drawn up when their children were born, and because business too was very good among the merchants who wished to know the best time to buy and sell their goods, because of all these things, very soon most of the wise men in the land forgot about the new star and the excitement caused by its appearance.
But there were some who could not forget, and he and two others continued to discuss the star long after the news of its appearance had faded from the minds of the rest. It seemed to him and two of his companions that the star was a sign of tremendous significance. Never had they heard of a new star appearing and never had they seen a star move in the heavens. Together they discussed how the star must be a sign from the gods that something very important was happening and that the king whom everyone had agreed the star heralded was no ordinary king.
The star was such a powerful sign, that he finally resolved to set forth and to find the king who lay beneath it. He knew that his life would be incomplete if he did not meet the king the star pointed to. His two friends, who were equally excited by the star and in awe of the power it pointed to, agreed to go with him on his trip. So it was that one night, leaving behind all that they held dear and knew so well, they set forth. They had traveled a long way since then, a long way, and often the way had been difficult, often there had been delays and uncertainties, often there had been danger and confusion.
There were times when he and his friends could not move onward, the sky would be obscured by clouds and they could not be sure if they were heading in the right direction and so they would set up camp wherever they found themselves and wait. Always when he had to wait, he lost some of his confidence. He was never sure if, when the clouds parted once again, that the star would still be in the sky. Perhaps it would disappear from view as suddenly as it had appeared, perhaps he was chasing a ghost star, a star with no real significance, a star with no real existence.
Perhaps he was a fool on a fool’s errand.
At other times – when the star shone brightly and the three of them could move onward – their progress was impeded by terrain that even people travelling by day would have had trouble with. A leg of their journey that local residents told them would only take a day would take three, and the easy paths that other travelers told them about never seemed to be as easy as they expected. It seemed at times that there had never been an easy night for them: always there was some anxiety or other to disturb them – even on the most level paths; sometimes, in fact, those paths worried him the most, for there others might be roaming, others with evil on their minds, others ready to kill or steal from passing strangers.
To be Continued….