The Magi were philosophers from the East and wise as man reckons. They studied for long years the heavens and the stars, and as they observed these marvelous things they beheld the glory of the Creator.
Even though they were considered heathens, in their wonderment they turned to the Hebrew Scriptures and learned that there were prophesies that had been handed down century after century regarding a Messiah. Even in their own land there were treasured prophesies regarding a divine Teacher. And as they studied, they learned that His coming was near.
One night they noticed an extremely bright star in the heavens, one they had not observed before. They consulted with priests and philosophers and searched the ancient records. Balaam of the Old Testament had been one of their number and they found that he had declared “There shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel.” Numbers 24:17. Some were given dreams and in this way instructed to go in search of the newborn Prince.
They did not know that the star they beheld was actually a company of angels declaring the birth of the Messiah in a manger, in a stable, to the shepherds upon the hills outside Bethlehem. An angel had appeared to the shepherds and said, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manager.” And then this angel was joined by a multitude of angels and they all sang together, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:10–14
When that company of angels had faded away, a luminous star appeared and lingered in the sky. This was the star observed by the Magi and we are told that once they set off, it led them each night closer to the Christ child. They brought with them rich gifts from their land, as was their custom, to bestow upon the Child. It is a beautiful thought that while the Magi had not only the physical star in the sky to guide their way to the manger, they were also given inward evidence by the Holy Spirit. And though the journey was long, this impressed their hearts and filled them with hope.
The star ultimately led them to the manger in Bethlehem and they were able to bow before the Prince of heaven and to give Him their gifts and worship and praise.
The Spirit of Prophecy says that sin had become very bad and had even found its way into the religious practices of the day. It caused rebellion in the hearts of men and made them hate God, all the while claiming to be His children. “It was demonstrated … that, apart from God, humanity could not be uplifted. A new element of life and power must be imparted by Him who made the world.” The Desire of Ages, 37
Even the inhabitants of the unfallen worlds thought that God would rise up and sweep the earth clean of sin and sinners. But this would have given Satan the opportunity to declare again that God’s government could not be both just and merciful.
But instead of destroying the world, God sent His Son to save it and though sin was everywhere, God made a way for its recovery. “At the very crisis, when Satan seemed about to triumph, the Son of God came [as an emissary] of divine grace.” Ibid.
The angel who came to tell Mary that she would give birth to the Messiah said, “[Y]ou shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21. And verse 23 declares further, “ ‘and they shall call His name Immanuel … God with us.’ ”
So herein lies the greatest love story ever told. The story of a God who wanted children so much that He created worlds until one chose not to be His. Yet, His love for them was so great that instead of abandoning them, leaving them to die alone, He made a plan to send His Son to pay the price they could not pay. He came to die for their sins and to show them how to live their lives so that they could one day be restored again to their heavenly home, to live for all of eternity with their Father.
“Through every age, through every hour, the love of God had been exercised toward the fallen race. Notwithstanding the [wickedness] of men, the signals of mercy had been continually exhibited. And when the fullness of the time had come, the Deity was glorified by pouring upon the world a flood of healing grace that was never to be obstructed or withdrawn till the plan of salvation should be fulfilled.” The Desire of Ages, 37
When the need was the most dire, Jesus came. He lived. He died. He rose again. He lives. He forgives. He saves. This is love.
Adapted from The Desire of Ages