The account of the birth of Jesus Christ holds great and important lessons for us. His birth dramatically changed the course of human history. The Heavens heralded His birth, the celestial choirs sang beautiful melodies of praise to proclaim His birth to the world(Luke 2:9-14). No other birth has been so significant before His and neither has there been any other afterwards. It is worthy of note the fashion in which Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God was born. He was conceived of the Holy Spirit, carried by a virgin, a spectacular miracle(Luke 1:26-37). He left His glory above to be born in a humble place of a Stable. The King of kings was lain in a manger for his cradle…Oh what an example of humility, for though He had all the powers of Heaven he stooped low to identify with the poor and lowly. Little wonder then, that the first persons to hear of the joyful news of His birth were poor shepherds. We must then be grateful, for none of us is exquisite enough, rich enough or intelligent enough to deserve His visitation!
Our King was not born just for the nation of Israel, no He came for the whole world. Little wonder then, that the first persons to see His star were the Magi (Wise men) of the East. They knew that this child was more than ordinary, they did not understand what this child would become but they knew they had to pay Him their respects and though far a journey it would take them, yet it was worth the pains. They presented to our Lord gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. Though the Bible account of this visit in Matthew chapter 2 did not mention the number of wise men that came on this visit, yet they have come to be known as the Three Wise men, probably inferred from the gift items they presented.
Friend, let us now read the story of the fourth wise man. The Fourth Wise Man is the name of a film I watched, written by Tom Fontana and produced by Ellwood Keiser and Michael Ray Rhodes. This film made a lasting impression on my heart and though it was but a film, yet I could feel the very emotion of the scenes. It starts with the preparation of the wise men to embark on the journey to worship the king whose star they had sighted. Artaban, one of the Magi and the major character of the film is selling off his estates and priced possessions in readiness for the journey. Artaban bids his household and community farewell and sets off with his faithful servant, Orantes, to meet his three friends at the place they had agreed to meet from where they will embark on the journey together. Artaban arrives the place late to discover his three friends had left thinking he wasn’t coming anymore. Now, Artaban has to try to catch up on his friends or risk continuing the journey alone with his servant. There is no going back so Artaban travels alone.
Artaban takes with him three precious gifts (Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh) to present to the Messiah. His journey was quite unlike his three friends for he comes across frequent delays and the time quickly passes, in the space which his three friends had ended their visit and returned through a different route. For 33 years, Artaban and Orantes pursue Jesus, only to miss Him at every turn. Along the way, Artaban uses his gifts to help people in dire need. He had to spend many years with a Leper colony where he used his skills of medicine to treat the people. He had to stay to teach the people a way to irrigate their arid land in the outskirts of the city so they could have food and not have to face the ridicule of the healthy in the city who despised them and would not sell them grains. He used his gold, frankincense and myrrh to help this people. He now has nothing to present to the Messiah when he finds Him. The story culminates on Easter Sunday as Artaban, old and dying, finally encounters the new King, Jesus Christ, who appears to him and recognizes his deepest heart desire of meeting Him, bringing peace to his final moments of life.
Friends, though no accounts of Artaban may be found in the Bible and the story of the film speculative and largely fictional, there is a vital lesson to learn from the story of the Fourth Wise Man; It is the object of our pursuit. What have we devoted our lives to pursue? Is it wealth? Artaban had a lot of that but gave it up to pursue after Jesus Christ. Are we pursuing fame? Artaban had a lot of that too but to know the Messiah was more important to him. His was the pursuit of a lifetime, no obstacle was strong enough to deter him. He was willing to sacrifice his best to save the lost and bring succor to the rejected and destitute. What is the object of your pursuit, my dear friend? Is it Jesus Christ? Are you prepared to seek Him not just for a season but for your lifetime? God has promised that those who seek Him shall find Him (Jeremiah 29 vs 13,Isaiah 55 vs 6, Matthew 7 vs 7). If we are hungry to know the Lord, there is a wonderful assurance that as Artaban met Jesus even on his dying bed, we also shall yet see Him face to face, for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness shall be filled(Matthew 5 vs 6).
As we celebrate the wonderful birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us like the Fourth Wise man, seek to see and to know this Jesus whose birth we have heard of and what a blessing, that we do not have to travel as far as Artaban had to travel, a yearning heart, a bowed knee and a praying tongue can be the shortest distance to meet Him. You need not have gifts of Gold, Frankinscence and Myrrh to present Him but give Him your heart, give yourself to Him and you will be the most blessed man or woman living.