The Greatest Story of All Time

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.  (Matthew 2:1-2)

God sent a group of Gentile astronomers on a seven-month journey to testify of the birth of the Jewish Messiah. An unknown child, divinely conceived in an unwed girl, whose fiancé almost divorced her.

Amazing. Yet the story is greater than that.

These men were philosophers, historians say possible Medes (from Persia), living in a kingdom that had many false gods. Practicing magicians. Followers of astrology. But evidently well-read. They knew the prophecies, the Messiah is coming … to a people that aren’t yours, in a country you don’t live in.

You’ll know it when you see the star.

Not just any star. Not an aligning of the planets or some every-now-and-then comet that coincidentally showed up on that date. Uh uh. The Scripture says the star led them. A supernatural evidence of the greatest event in the history of mankind presented in a manner only men who studied the sky would understand.

Phenomenal. Incredible. Yet the story is still greater.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.  (Matthew 2:10)

They came to worship. Not admire. Not coo-over. Not capture, kidnap, or destroy like Herod. They came to worship. Men from a place Mary and Joseph had never been, read words written hundreds of years before they lived, and trusted an unusual light to show them how to get there so they could worship.

With rejoicing. Do you get that? These men rejoiced to see a Savior, a deliverer, who wasn’t theirs. With exceedingly great joy. They weren’t just happy. They were “vehemently” happy. (G4970 Strong’s).

Over a boy without a crown, without an army. Who had no followers. He’d done no miracles, at that point. Oh, a handful of shepherds had listened to a choir of angels sing over him, or so the story circulated. Clearly not loud-enough that Herod had paid it any mind. Until these “wise men” showed up, he had no idea anything miraculous had happened at all.

And that’s a great part of the story.

God brought salvation to the earth right underneath the enemy’s noses. They couldn’t stop it, weren’t aware of it. They didn’t know what he looked like, who his parents were, just that he was Jewish and in Bethlehem. And they had to be told that by men from somewhere else. Men who listened to their hearts and went home another way, enabling Joseph and Mary to escape. (Mt 2:12)

This is no small story - Oh, yeah, these wise men showed up.

No way. This wasn’t a Sunday afternoon drive a few towns over to see the latest thing. This wasn’t gazing, ho-hum, at some nice Jewish family because it seemed like the stars were brighter over them tonight.

Do you think the God who parted the Red Sea, enabling men to walk through on dry land, a God who later destroyed an entire nation to give God’s chosen people a country would treat the birth of Christ as a secondhand event?

This was the greatest night in history, celebrated by those who listened and obeyed, so that the greatest act of all time could happen thirty-three years later, and give to “whosever believes” the greatest love possible.


--Note: For another Christmas devotional I wrote this season, visit "What Christmas Is About" on the Crossreads blog.

Suzanne D. Williams, Author