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Jesus Creed

“We three kings of orient are” is another Christmas song that combines a rich legend (like names: Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar) about the magi and some nice theology. Here it is. Go ahead, Steph, tell us something about it…
We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star
O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy Perfect Light
Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again
King forever, ceasing never
Over us all to rein
O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light
Frankincense to offer have I
Incense owns a Deity nigh
Pray’r and praising, all men raising
Worship Him, God most high
O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light
Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes of life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb
O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light
Glorious now behold Him arise
King and God and Sacrifice
Alleluia, Alleluia
Earth to heav’n replies
O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to Thy perfect light.
So, what’s the point? Clearly — they are witnesses to Jesus as the Messiah.
Their witness, as “magi” (probably astrologers) who are notoriously pejorative in Jewish literature, contrasts with the witness of those who should have known better: Herod’s court. What to learn? God raises up witnesses from all over the place, and not always from folks we’d prefer.
Their witness reveals that the Messiah is not just Savior of his people (Israel; 1:21) but also king of the Jews who will rule also Gentiles. This is a rich theme in Matthew, once again climaxing with the commission to mission at the end (28:16-20).
Their witness emerges from a heart and mind that is sensitive to God’s leading — the star and the providential words of God to return home without going back to Herod.
Their witness is attended by worship and even extravagance — they offer to the king gifts fitting for a king.
We don’t know how many there were — three is just a guess and a tradition. What we know is that witness to Jesus.

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