Having escaped from Herod’s palace, the three wise men made plans to resume their journey. But then, they discovered that the scroll with the directions was lost.
A cold wind was blowing across the hills of Judea, threatening to rip the tent off its pegs. Huddled inside the thick fabric, taking refuge from the bitter wind were the three wise men from the East — Gaspar, Melchior and Balthazar who had just sneaked out of King Herod’s palace. They had gone to seek Herod’s help in finding the newborn Messiah, but had to beat a hasty retreat when they came to know that he was plotting to kill the baby.
Now safe inside the tent in the wilderness, they lighted their oil lamps to once again take a look at the scrolls that had foretold the coming of the Messiah. Melchior — the Persian Scholar — had a precious papyrus scroll that detailed the route to the place where the Messiah would be born. Though based on astronomical calculations and speculations to a large extent, the three learned men had great faith in their knowledge and believed it would lead them to the right place.
Gaspar, the wise man from India was the keeper of the scrolls and it was his responsibility to load and unload the precious documents on the camels.
Their camels were the finest animals in the desert, raised in Balthazar’s farm in Arabia. Together, they had travelled a long distance in search of the Messiah whose birth had been foretold with the sighting of a very unusual star.
But tonight, there seemed to be a problem, as Gaspar could not locate that important scroll which had the route marked out for them. Without this map, they would be totally lost in this cold and bitter land! And while they were wondering what to do, an idea struck Balthazar. He rushed out to take a look at their three camels that were tied outside. Jamal, the youngest of the camels was chewing on something and a shiver ran down his spine!
“Could it be that precious scroll?” his mind was racing with thoughts of a futile journey. “Oh no! What have you done Jamal, you silly animal!” he cried at Jamal. Hearing him, Gaspar and Melchior came out to see what the commotion was, and soon realised what had happened.
“It’s not just Jamal’s fault”, said Gaspar. “I must have dropped it while unloading, so don’t scold him”, said Gaspar.
Now with the scroll gone, the wise men had no other option but to follow the star. So when they packed up the next morning and started their journey, they hoped it would lead them to the right place. And their camel Jamal seemed to have read their mind. He took the lead this time and he seemed to know where he was headed. And just as the sun was setting, they reached a little village called Bethlehem — an unlikely place for a king to be born — and Jamal led them to a stable behind an inn.
There in a manger was a newborn baby with his tired parents. The star they had followed stood still above the stable. The wise men were filled with joy at the sight of the baby. For, all they had read about in the scriptures had come to be fulfilled, as the Lord of all creation was born as a humble baby, to bring love, joy and peace to humankind. They brought out their expensive yet carefully chosen gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold was to signify that this baby was born to be the King of Kings. Frankincense stood for the fact that he was the Lord of Lords and worthy of praise and worship. Myrrh was to denote His death on the cross for the sins of the world and His resurrection.
On their way back home, the three wise men couldn’t help but wonder how they had to let go of their wisdom and trust the star and the camel to bring them to the light. And looking back at the amazing way in which they had been led to the baby in the manger, they couldn’t help but agree that it had truly been a night of miracles.
Travellers from the East
The three wise men are also referred to as the Magi, or the three kings or even the Kings from the East. It is believed that a group of distinguished, educated foreigners came to know of the birth of Christ and went to visit him bringing with them gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh. Every nativity play, skit or tableau features the three kings. Though it has been mentioned in the Bible that the wise men travelled from the East to visit the holy child, there is no mention of the number of wise men. But because there are three gifts it has been widely assumed that there were but three of them.
The wise men or kings recognised that Jesus Christ was the Messiah and travelled miles to worship him. They had only a star to guide them on their way. It is believed that they arrived a year after they had set off and by then the child was born.
Their long and difficult journey has given rise to many stories and legends, as people imagined all the joys and travails such an arduous journey can have. King Herod too had heard of the birth of a new king and he was nervous. So when he got to know that the wise men were on their way to worship Chirst, he called for them and asked them to get back to him with the news of where the child was. But, the wise men were warned in a dream not to go back to King Herod.