The Magi have really good “cred” in the Christmas story. Nobody traveled further to see the Messiah. Nobody suffered more in that traveling. Nobody left more behind (Persian palace riches anyone?) to make the journey. Nobody had a more complicated navigation challenge (following a star in the sky as the only directional sign for hundreds or maybe thousands of miles). Nobody arrived as late (months or even years after the birth took place!). Nobody had as much riding on the secrecy of their return home.
The Biblical account in the book of Matthew tells a bare-bones story of their journey, arrival and departure. They found the place; they were thrilled to see the child; they gave him some pretty awesome gifts; they went home via a secret way to scuttle Herod’s evil plan.
And while I like that account, I love even more an embellished, historically-fictional account by the poet T.S. Eliot called “Journey of the Magi.” In this poem, one of the Magi is back in Persia (or another middle eastern kingdom) years after the trip, recalling and recounting the journey and reflecting on its significance for himself and for the world. He ends with these incredible lines of longing for revelation of the Son of God:
“We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.”
On the surface, Christmas is about the birth of the Messiah. Below the surface, it is very much about the death of the Messiah. Yes, He came to live and teach and heal and preach. But, He ultimately came to give up his life — to die on a cross — so that you and I might have life.
And so this Christmas, may you also “be glad of another death.” By receiving that gift, you will be celebrating the coming of the Chosen One in the absolute best way possible.
From all of us here in Food for the Hungry, have a merry, happy and blessed Christmas!