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Many of us have heard the Christmas story so often it has lost its wonder. Sometimes the sense of wonder can be found again when we allow ourselves to "wonder." Have you ever wondered how the wisemen may have had access to Israel's prophecies? Have you ever wondered about the gifts they chose to bring?
God invites us to seek. The story of the wisemen can teach us how to seek and worship!
This Bible study lesson based on a portion of the Christmas story may be used with any age. We have included a basic Bible lesson script with a variety of interactive options for different ages including children, youth and adults.
This is also a great tool for family worship and can easily be divided into two lessons.
To introduce the lesson, either have a star, a photo of a star or have everyone draw a star. Take a few minutes to talk about stars. They were created as lights. Stars have been used as guides for thousands of years; we can determine directions from them. As we dig deeper into the Wisemen or Three Kings of the Christmas story, let's keep these two facts at the forefront of our thinking -
Have you ever thought about how the Wise Men knew about the star? Most Bible scholars believe these men (traditionally three in number because of the three gifts mentioned in Scripture) to have been of a certain group of priestly scholars or "Magi". They most likely studied among other things both astrology and ancient writings. Most scholars believe they were from the royal courts of Babylonia and Persia.
In Matthew 2:5-6 the Magi quote Micah 5:2 - "They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:
‘AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH,
ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH;
FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER
WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.’”
Think about it...how would these men have heard this prophecy from Isaiah 60:6 or Balaam's prophecy of a star that would announce the birth of a special King meant to be worshiped? (Numbers 24:17,19)
God in His infinite plan arranged it!
Remember Daniel and his friends, Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego, along with many other Jews who were taken to Babylon during Judah's captivity? God's Word went with them in their hearts and also likely in writings among the artifacts taken from the temple. Daniel, himself, prophesied about the coming Messiah when he lived there.
Remember the young Jewish girl, Hadassah, who became Queen Esther of Persia? God used her influence "for such a time as this" (Esther 4:4) to the point that "many of the people of the land became Jews" (Esther 8:17) opening the door for God's Scripture there!
In the same way, God continues to use His Word to point people to Jesus the Christ, Savior of the world. The Wise Men sought Him, and the star led them to The Way, The Truth, and The Life. (John 14:6) God's Word by His Holy Spirit continues to do the same today! If we seek God too, He promises to be found. (Jeremiah 29:13)
I think this question from the Wise Men in our Bible verse above for this Christmas story Bible study can remind us of three questions we can ask ourselves:
This Christmas and on into the New Year, every time we see a star, whether it's in God's night sky, or on a tree...let's be reminded to see, follow & point to Jesus!
Photo credit - Pexels
Who are some of the people in your life you see as wise and what makes them seem wise to you?
Think about it...what makes a person wise?
Proverbs 10:9 says - "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."
This verse speaks of fear of the LORD (Jehovah) as that of awe and honor for Who He is. Knowing the One True God in a personal relationship through His Son, Jesus Christ, and seeking Him makes us wise.
The Magi were wise men not because of all their learning and knowledge, but because they sought the One Who is wisdom. After speaking to Herod and getting nowhere, they continued the course and followed the star, God's guidance.
They followed the Scriptures of prophecy, God's Word; they walked by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7) They didn't know their destination or detailed directions. They just knew about Who they were seeking, and when they arrived they were overjoyed and they worshiped!
Maybe right now in your life you are seeking direction and wisdom for a decision you have to make. Life can change courses quite suddenly sometimes and leave us feeling lost.
James 1:5 tells us -
"But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him."
James goes further and speaks about what God's wisdom brings to our lives in James 3:17 -
"But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy."
Although the wise men didn't make it for Jesus' birth, they kept seeking until they found the Christ Child. And when they found Him, they bowed & worshiped!
Let's take a closer look at the three gifts these wisemen brought to the newborn king.
Pass around an item made from gold and an item made from another metal like a copper penny, silver coin, or tin can. Ask which they would consider to be the most precious and why.
Gold has always been considered the most beautiful and precious of metals; therefore it was a fit gift for a king. Gold is purified before use and it is able to reflect light; it shines!
These Wisemen of the Christmas story acknowledged that Jesus was a king. Although He was not found in a palace and had parents who were just commoners, they believed the Scriptures of Who He truly was.
Worship involves seeing and acknowledging that Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We do this as we accept Him as our Lord and Savior, but we also have the choice each day to acknowledge His position in our life.
Are we bowing our lives and our wills in obedience and honor to Christ in the way we live? These men traveled a long way to bow before Jesus. They set aside their everyday business to follow Him. This was the same call the twelve disciples obeyed, the same each of us as "followers of Christ" are to obey as an act of true worship.
Where are we looking for direction in life; are we looking up to Christ? Are we acknowledging His presence and seeing Him at work in and around us? Are we seeing others as God sees them?
So much of worship has to do with seeing Jesus for Who He is and allowing that to be reflected and shine into the world around us so others may see too.
If possible, have some frankincense or even the essential oil for your class or family to smell.
Frankincense has been used as an aroma of worship for thousands of years. Many believe that this gift pointed to Jesus being our High Priest. This was one of the duties of the priest to burn incense in the temple; again, this pointed to Jesus.
Ephesians 5:2 points to this - "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma."
2 Corinthians 2:14 says - "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place."
Ask if anyone has ever hugged someone like a family member or someone at church and walked away smelling like them. Worship happens when we take time to come close to God so much so that when we go throughout the rest of our day, others can smell His fragrant aroma on our lives.
James, the half-brother of Jesus, said, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded." James 4:8
Are we taking time to be still and up close with God?
The gift of myrrh pointed to Jesus' sacrificial death as our Savior. Myrrh was an ointment used to anoint a dead body.
It also has properties of healing though. Jesus' righteousness covers the stench of our sin, and He also brings healing into our lives. This gift is meant to be passed on to others.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5 points us to comfort others just as Christ has comforted us.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ."
Worship is about giving. Just as these Wisemen of the Christmas story brought gifts to worship the baby, our gift of worship acknowledges and glorifies God, but also reaches out and touches others.
A few additional fun activities for children include:
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