The Other Wise Man

30 Dec

The Other Wise Man…

As we put traditional Christmas away for another year, I’d like to add an interesting little story by Henry van Dyke titled “The Story of the Other Wise Man.” Born in 1852, van Dyke was educated at Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary. A noted educator, author, and minister, he wrote the lyrics to “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” that we sing to the tune of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”

In “The Story of the Other Wise Man,” van Dyke tells about Artaban, his fictional magus who saw the star, sold his house and possessions, and bought three precious jewels — a sapphire, a ruby, and a pearl — to present to the newborn king. Friends discouraged his quest, but Artaban listened to his oldest and best friend and set out to join the other wise men who followed the star. Along the way, he came upon a dying stranger and spent several hours ministering to him and reviving him. But the delay made him miss his rendezvous with the other wise men who went on without him. Needing a train of camels to cross the treacherous desert, Artaban bought them with his precious sapphire.

Arriving in Bethlehem with his ruby and pearl to give to the king, he discovered that the other wise men had been and gone and that Joseph had taken Mary and Jesus to Egypt. When soldiers stormed through the town killing the babies, Artaban used his ruby to bribe the captain to spare the baby of the woman who befriended him.

After 33 years of searching for the king and ministering to prisoners, the hungry, the sick, and the poor along the way, Artaban made his way back to Jerusalem at the time of Passover. Joining the crowd making its way to Golgotha, he used his pearl, his only remaining treasure, to purchase freedom for a young girl sold into slavery.

Following the star leads us, as it led Artaban, to the cross. Thinking he had failed, “A calm radiance of wonder and joy lighted the pale face of Artaban like the first ray of dawn on a snowy mountain-peak. One long, last breath of relief exhaled gently from his lips.” But not before he heard the soft voice of Jesus saying:

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me ( Matthew 25:40).

When we have nothing left to give, God gives us everything that matters! Christmas ends where it begins, with God giving us his most precious jewel.

Love always,


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