Advent Calendar Day 5: We Three Kings

‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.

The Three Kings are the embroidery of legend, worked from the Gospel tale of the foreign astrologers who came a long way to present the newborn Hebrew Mashiach with three princely gifts.  In a tale featuring miraculous conceptions and angelic anunciations, these oriental wizards and the heavenly sign that motivated them to cross countless miles may be the most extraordinary and picturesque elements.

Why are they here, these gentile mystics, who presumably follow other gods and other monarchs, these men who owe no allegiance to the line of David and do not partake in the covenant of Abraham?

I believe their presence is a bit of foreshadowing.  The newborn king they came to honor is introduced as the fulfillment of Hebrew prophecy, the Anointed One long anticipated by the sons and daughters of Abraham, but he was to be much more than that.  That we call him Christ now says he’s saviour to the gentiles as well.  The outsiders.  The uncircumcised.  Those outside the tribe.

The Son of David will shed his blood for all the peoples of the earth.  The second Adam unites all the fractured descendents of the first Adam.

At the beginning of his life, Jesus is bigger than tribes or nations.  This is one gift of the magi.


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