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A Wise Mans Story

A Christmas Monologue

Wri$en by Simon Marshall and rst used at Bothwell Evangelical Church on

December 17th 2017.
If you like it and want to use it, please do. It would be nice to know if it is used, so
could you email me ( to let me know? Thanks.
My name, did you say? (He laughs) You would be amazed at how many people ask
me that! I always give them the same answer, My name isnt important. This story
isnt about me, or my companions, its about someone else.
You know what its like when youve been waiRng for something for a long Rme and
then it suddenly happens? And when I say a long Rme I mean not just weeks or
months - or even years. But decades, centuries.
As I look back now, over the years since those events, some aspects are sRll crystal
clear in my mind.
We had studied the wriRngs. We knew that centuries ago, Balaam had said that, A
star will come out of Jacob; a sceptre will rise from Israel. A star and a king.
So we had studied the wriRngs. And we had studied the stars. And we had waited.
Our knowledge extended so far as to knowing that something would happen in the
land o to the west; a king would be born who would in some way or other change
the course of history.
And then it happened. One clear night a new star rose. And it was there the next
night too. In the west, towards the land of Israel. We discussed backwards and
forwards as to what it was. A conjuncRon of Jupiter and Saturn? That made some
sense, the planet of kingship with the planet of Saturday - and the Jews were known
for their observance of the Sabbath. Or was it a new, wandering star, a comet we
would say now? It didnt really ma$er. It was there. It was bright. And it meant
something. It meant that a new king had been born in Israel - a king to the Jews.
There was some debate about what to do. We didnt just leap on our camels and
head out. But we all basically recognised that we had to do something. In the end,
we decided that there was really only one thing we could do, some of us would have
to go to Israel, to the city of David, Jerusalem, to see this new king and to worship
We started to prepare. I hate packing, especially going to a country youve never
visited before. SRll, we got everything together. Most important of all, we spent
some Rme discussing the gi]s that we were to take.
We talked a bit about whether we should take gi]s that had some kind of
symbolism. But then we realised that what we thought something symbolised might
not be what a Jew would think. It was safer to simply take some costly, luxury gi]s.
Gi]s that would be worthy of a king. Well, any gi] for a king needs to be costly - it
needs to be a luxury. You dont take a bag of our, or a pot of oil, do you?
In the end we decided on gold, because, well, its gold. Everyone knows gold is a
luxury. Surprisingly heavy to carry, though! SRll, the perfect choice.
We then chose frankincense. Frankincense is only found in our country, and in India
and Somalia. It comes from parRcularly scraggy trees. They are not much to look at,
but once you tap the tree and collect the hardened resin and put it on a hot rock
near a re, the smell is amazing. That was a rare, luxury item which was t for a king.
And easy to pack and carry as well.
Finally, the third gi], myrrh. Like frankincense, this is a resin, tapped from thorny
trees. And only found in Ethiopia apart from our country. It could be burnt like
frankincense, added to wine to make a painkiller, or even used in burial ceremonies.
Yes, that would do - precious and rare.
So there we had them. Gold, frankincense, myrrh. Together they made a gi] t for
any king. Gi]s that bet the dignity of the role that this new child had been born to.
So nally we were ready. It had taken quite a while. These things cant be rushed,
you know. But having decided the star was important, and having chosen our gi]s,
we then had to decided which of us would make the journey. I mean, not everyone
fancied the trip. Some were too old for the diculRes we would face. Some just
much too young and immature to be trusted on such a mission.
In the end we decided. I dont remember exactly how many we were - my memory is
hazy on that. But there were a number of us. Enough to cause a bit of a sRr when we
arrived in Jerusalem. But thats gedng a li$le ahead of ourselves.
We were ready. Gi]s all loaded. And so we set o. The star was sRll there. And it
remained there, always ahead of us - and visible even in daylight - all the way to
The journey must have taken us 5 or 6 weeks. But nally we arrived at the gates of
the city. Well, none of us had been there before, so we had no idea where we should
go. It wasnt exactly a huge city, but it was crowded.
Once we had watered the animals at one of the wells outside the walls, we asked
some of the people around for direcRons.
It was a simple quesRon - at least we thought it was, Where is the one who has
been born king of the Jews? You would have thought that this was easy to answer.
If a new prince had been born, it would probably have been known by the people in
the city. And we had expected an atmosphere of joy as well. Okay, it had been quite
a while since the birth, but our quesRon did not bring smiles and nods and
happiness - and I dont think that was because of our accents. It brought
consternaRon and concern. Everyone we spoke to seemed disturbed rather than
Eventually, an envoy from King Herod came to see us. Now we knew something of
Herod. His reputaRon had got even as far as where we lived. He wasnt known as a
benevolent ruler. He was ruthless, tyrannical and cruel. The only good thing we had
ever heard about him was that he had started the rebuilding of the Temple.
He summoned us to his palace, but not during the day, and not through the main
gate. One or two of our number were a bit oended by this. Doesnt he know we
are Magi?
Going in through the tradesmens entrance - unbelievable. SRll, we went. A]er all,
we had come a long way to worship this new, future king.
Herod was all politeness and courtesy once we met him. Looking back, perhaps a bit
too courteous, a bit too polite - a bit too keen to know the details.
He seemed to know why we were there - but then we had asked a lot of people. And
he told us a piece of news. He said he had spoken to the priests and scribes in
Jerusalem and that they had pinpointed Bethlehem as the birthplace for this king.
Idiot! I heard one of my colleagues whisper behind me. Of course, Bethlehem.
Not the city of rule, but the city of birth. The birthplace of David would be the
birthplace of this king. Why didnt I think of that. Its all there. In Micah. Micah
Micah. How did I forget Micah?! I turned to look at him, he smiled a li$le sheepishly
and stopped mu$ering.
And then Herod asked us more quesRons about the star. I mean, you could see it
from the window of his palace. Shining out to the south west. He wanted to know
when it had rst appeared. Well, we told him. We couldnt see any reason not too. If
only we had known then what we heard later. You have no idea how that feels
But at the Rme, he was all polite, all posiRve. He asked us to conRnue our journey
and nd this new king. And even said that once we had found the child, we should
report back to him so he could also worship him.
He then had us escorted back out. Yes, the tradesmens entrance again!
The next morning we set out for Bethlehem. The nal leg of our long journey. When
we had started, we thought we knew what was at the end. There would be a palace
and a child who would be King. There would be joy and fanfare, and celebraRon.
Now Well, now we had no idea what to expect. Jerusalem was at least a capital city
of sorts. Bethlehem? What was Bethlehem?
One of our group asked some of the locals about the village while we were eaRng
breakfast. It was only 6 miles away - a short journey of a couple of hours. A village of
some 200 people, thats all. Well, at least it shouldnt be dicult to nd the child
The star led us on. It was strangely comforRng to see it. No, more than that, it
brought real joy. Joy, not because it had been our companion for the whole journey,
but because we realised it was the signpost to someone very special.
So, mid-morning we arrived in Bethlehem. The star seemed to stop above one
specic house. It wasnt much to look at. A normal, single-storey, mud house.
We suddenly all felt a li$le nervous. Ridiculous, I know. But what would we nd?
The door was opened by a young woman. Behind her, we saw a carpenters
workshop. You know, even today, all these years later, I cant smell sawdust, or see a
newly nished piece of furniture without my mind going back to that moment.
It was as the door opened that we realised we really didnt know how to start this
conversaRon. What do you say? So the simple quesRon seemed the best, Is this
where we will nd the one who is born King of the Jews?
The woman smiled, opened the door, and invited us in. Her husband came over from
his work and welcomed us. Every Rny li$le detail of that house, of the interior, of the
people, is etched on my mind, even now, with a clarity so sharp it almost hurts.
And then, we saw the boy.
Over the years, I have tried to put into words what I felt at that moment. And, you
know, I cant really do jusRce to it. There, in front of us, we knew - we just knew -
was the culminaRon of history. He was at the centre not just of the story of one
naRon, but of the story of creaRon.
We had travelled a great distance, but we could sense that in a very real way, he had
travelled further - not geographically, perhaps, but further nonetheless.
We prided ourselves on our knowledge, on our learning, on our history and our
centuries long tradiRons. But in those very young eyes, you could sense a wisdom, a
history, a knowledge which made ours fade into insignicance.
And all of us, without any word or sign, simply dropped to our knees in worship.
And we brought out our gi]s, laying them on the oor of the house.
There was something incongruous about the gold and the frankincense and the
myrrh amidst the sawdust of this humble, ordinary carpenters house. And yet and
yet something dng as well. As though the ordinary surroundings veiled something
greater - something glorious. Just as the young child standing in front of us seemed
so ordinary and yet so extra-ordinary. As though, in him, something of the heavens
had touched the earth.
We spent the day in Bethlehem, with the child and his family. And camped that night
on the outskirts of this small, seemingly inconsequenRal village in the hills. Knowing
that the world was never going to be the same again.
But it wasnt an easy sleep. It was lul, restless. One of our number woke with a
start just as dawn was breaking. He had had a dream. And a dream like no other. It
was clear, more like a real encounter than a dream. He told us that he had been told
that we should not return to Jerusalem and to Herod; that danger lay in that route.
Well, stranger things had happened on this journey. So we packed up and started
our long return journey making sure we avoided Jerusalem.
It was only a]er we had travelled for a few miles that we noRced the star was no
longer there. It had done its job. It had led us to the new King. And as we travelled,
we shared our thoughts and our emoRons. We talked about the future, a future
which would be forever changed because, in a small house, in a small village we had
met the King, the King whose name is important, the king called Jesus.