5 The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up a righteous descendant from David’s line, and he will rule as a wise king. He will do what is just and right in the land. 6 During his lifetime, Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And his name will be The Lord Is Our Righteousness.
What follows is a story you probably never heard. That’s because it never happened—but it could have.
I’m Bruce, and pardon me for blowing my horn—the fourth wise man. The Bible never said there were three wise men, just three gifts—gold, frankincense and myrrh. But there were several wise men and supposed to be four gifts. Just look in your Bible.
By the time it was my turn to draw straws for a gift to give the newborn King of the Universe, all the good gifts had been taken. I really wanted to give the frankincense but my neighbor Abkur claimed it. I just couldn’t find the right gift to give to a king. It had to be perfect. The guys waited as long as they could for me but then eventually left.
They waited too long. Jesus…I learned his name later, wasn’t a newborn by the time the Magi found him. He was closer to 2. I decided to go with a gift certificate. The Star of the East was long gone. I was slightly relieved that I missed them. I mean a gift certificate—how tacky. But I couldn’t wait another second and decided to make the journey alone. The story of my life!
It became my lifelong quest. I continued my search to find the King of the Universe, now a grown man. I also decided to find the perfect gift for him – by now the gift certificate had long since expired.
Over the years I’d come close to finding him. And once I thought I’d found the perfect gift. It was a Vegi-matic, a miracle machine that sliced and diced and countless other tedious chores. I almost got it but decided I might do better.
So, just like the night I hoped to leave with the Magi, I was a few minutes late and a piece of silver short – the story of my life!
I had traced Him to Bethlehem. That’s what the Scriptures said. But Jesus and his parents were long gone by the time I got there. It felt like I was chasing a ghost for the next few decades. And that’s when I started hearing rumors of a man performing miracles, a man that had been born in Bethlehem.
I must have just missed him after he turned five loaves of bread and pair of fish into a smorgasbord for 5,000. There were still some crumbs on the ground when I arrived.
I heard of the healings. Jesus healed lepers, the lame, the deaf, dumb and blind. He even raised folks from the dead. I found myself headed to Nain, which was still buzzing when I got there few days after the man/king stopped a funeral procession and brought a widow’s only son back to life. Once again, I was too late.
And so I headed to Jerusalem. It was a few days after he made his grand entrance. I finally tracked him down to an upper room, where he and his followers ate the Passover Meal. By the time I got there he had already left for the garden to pray. I ran all the way. When I arrived I saw a mob. They were taking him away, and that’s as close as I got to him. I watched from a distance as they took him to the civil and religious leaders, and a mockery of a trial.
Soon they led him away. I’m not sure why I followed but I was on that hill when he was executed on a rough wooden cross. Despite all the horrible treatment, he looked to the heavens and in a barely audible whisper said, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.”
I’d heard that he was the Son of God. I heard that he was the Messiah. And I heard that he forgave people for their sins. Even on the cross he forgave one of the thieves that was being crucified, even that criminal who had been mocking him earlier.
There was something majestic in the way he died, if any death can be called that. But what did it matter? Even if he were the King of the Universe, I would never meet him.
I’m not sure why I stayed in Jerusalem. But something kept me there. Within several days rumors began swirling that Jesus had risen from the grave—as the Scriptures predicted. And during the next few weeks, he was seen by hundreds of eyewitnesses.
Then one day he and his disciples were going to a hillside. Once again I was too late. But when I looked up, I thought I saw something in the sky.
I fell down but then I felt strong arms embrace me. It was the one they called Peter, the one who denied Jesus three times publicly. Peter knew what I was feeling and thinking. He told me he felt the same way. And in the same way that Jesus forgave him, Jesus would forgive me. He told me there was only one gift I had to give.
That’s when I realized my lifelong quest was really just beginning. That’s when I realized that I had the perfect gift to give to him all along—myself.
by Rick Reed
For Pondering & Prayer
Have you ever felt like you were chasing after Jesus?
Prayer: Jesus, remind us that wherever we are, you are here with us. Remind us that we don’t need to chase you, but simply look into our hearts to find you there. Amen.