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80 pages
Sep 2005
Crossway Books

The Three Wise Women

by Christine Ditchfield

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Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea 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. . . . And, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy . . . they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

MATTHEW 2:1-2, 9-11, kjv

Over the years these men have come to be known as Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar—the three Wise Men—beloved characters in the traditional Christmas story. Though they are mentioned only briefly in the Gospel of Matthew, the Wise Men appear in nearly every Nativity scene, every crèche. Their images adorn greeting cards and ornaments. Countless songs, stories, and poems have been written about them. Somehow, through the centuries these mysterious figures have captured our imagination and inspired us to “follow the star” on our own spiritual journey to Bethlehem.

Of course we don’t really know what their names were, or even that there were in fact three of them. We assume that there must have been at least three, because there were three gifts. However, if we read the Gospel accounts of the Christmas story carefully, we soon discover that there certainly were three wise people—three Wise Women.

Mary, Elizabeth, and Anna were three very different women, in different ages and stages of life.

One single, one married, one widowed. One just beginning to experience life, one coping with the challenges and changes of midlife, and one coming close to the end of life.

How do we know they were wise? The Scripture tells us, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and knowledge of the Holy is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10, KJV). All three of these women feared the Lord. They were women who walked with Him. Women of faith and courage and character.

Each one played a crucial role in the events of the true Christmas story. Mary became the mother of the Messiah. She gave birth to the Son of God Himself. Elizabeth became the mother of His prophet, John. She also served as Mary’s mentor and confidante. Anna announced the newborn King’s arrival. She sang His praises and proclaimed His salvation to all who had ears to hear.

Too often we casually read over the familiar words of Scripture, barely noticing these women. Yet each one, in her own way, set a powerful example for us to follow today. If we want to learn what these Wise Women have to teach us, we must take a closer look and see what their stories reveal about their hearts.