This Christmas, I've also thought more about the other group of travelers who are noted for visiting Jesus. They were the Wise Men from the East, sometimes called the Three Kings. Although they sound very important, the Bible actually tells us very little about them, in terms of who they were, where they were from, and even when exactly they visited Bethlehem. In fact, it doesn't even mention specifically that there were three of them. It does say, however, that these men came from the East and that they followed a star to the place where Jesus was born. And when they found him, they gave him gifts and bowed down to worship him.
There’s been a lot of speculation, over the years, about who these wise men were. Some people even think that they were from India. We know that they studied the stars. We know that they were interested in what was going on in Israel. But this part of the story has always intrigued people. To me, it says something simple about Jesus and his appeal beyond Israel. Even though Jesus came from Israel, the Bible makes it clear that it was never God’s intention that he just be Israel’s Savior. In the visit of the Wise Men from the East, the nations came to celebrate the birth of Jesus. He was honored as the King of the Jews but worshiped as the King of Kings.
From our vantage point in India, it's good to be reminded that Jesus came for the salvation of all humanity, not just for Israel and not just for today's Christian West. There's something international and even universal about Christmas. The major message of Jesus’ life and his death on the cross is that we can be forgiven. Forgiveness before God is something all of us are in need of. It's why Jesus came. It's what Christmas is all about.