Wise Men

Not all of the wise men in the world at the time of Jesus’s birth made the trek to Jerusalem.

As Matthew records, sometime after the birth of the Savior, a group of wise men came “from the east” to Jerusalem, seeking a baby whom they identified as the “King of the Jews.” They said they knew He was born because they had seen His star. With help from King Herod and the chief priests and scribes, they identified Bethlehem, a small town about six miles south of the city, as the prophesied birthplace of the Messiah. (See Matthew 2:4-6, Micah 5:2.) Arriving in Bethlehem, they found the home of Joseph and Mary, and they presented Jesus with extraordinary gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:11). Warned in a dream, they did not return to Herod as he had requested, but “departed into their own country another way” (Matthew 2:12).

A little more than five years earlier, on another continent, a prophet named Samuel foretold a number of signs which would correspond with the birth of the Savior, including the appearance of a new star (Helaman 14:2-8). After also sharing some signs of the Savior’s death, Samuel prophesied, “Many shall see greater things than these, to the intent that they might believe that these signs and these wonders should come to pass upon all the face of this land, to the intent that there should be no cause for unbelief among the children of men” (Helaman 14:28).

Most of Samuel’s listeners rejected his message. But five years later, his prophecies began to be fulfilled:

There were great signs given unto the people, and wonders;

and the words of the prophets began to be fulfilled.

And angels did appear unto men, wise men, and did declare unto them glad tidings of great joy;

thus in this year the scriptures began to be fulfilled.

Helaman 16:13-14

In contrast with these wise men, most of the people “began to harden their hearts.” Ignoring the obvious explanation for the signs that were happening around them, they rationalized their continued rejection of the words of the prophets: “Some things they may have guessed right, among so many; but behold, we know that all these great and marvelous works cannot come to pass, of which has been spoken” (Helaman 16:16).

Wise people are observant. They are aware of what is going on around them. They notice things like stars that other people miss because they are preoccupied.

Wise people have good judgment. They know how to identify good sources of truth and to distinguish between truth and error. (See General Handbook 38.8.45: “Seeking Information from Reliable Sources”.)

Wise people are receptive to spiritual realities. They understand that there is more to life than what we perceive with our physical senses. They are aware of spiritual truths and willing to act upon them.

Gaining wisdom is an iterative process, as described by the Lord in the following passage:

I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.

2 Nephi 28:30

Today, I will strive to be wise. I will pay attention and be aware of my surroundings, I will seek information from good sources of truth, and I will be receptive to spiritual guidance from God.

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