Christmas Poem: The Old Wise Man

On a still and warm Arabian night,

An old man gazed at the sky,

And recalled the events of his many long years,

Replaying them there in his mind.

 

He’d travelled, and learned, and served under kings,

No stranger to royalty’s halls,

But of all the memories lighting his thoughts,

There was one that shone brighter than all.

 

As a young man—well, younger at least,

He and some other wise men,

Once followed a star through the desert west,

To Judea, and Bethlehem.

 

A train of camels, a company of men,

They carried what treasures seemed fit,

For they went to honour a new-born king,

To worship and bring him their gifts.

 

And worship they did, and wonder, amazed,

Rejoicing with rapturous joy,

For they saw there not just another king,

But a Saviour in that boy.

 

For there in the flesh was the Son of God,

As King of the Jews he came,

To save his people from their sins,

Therefore Jesus was his name.

 

“Now many a season has come and gone,”

The wise man began to muse,

“It must be now over thirty good years,

Since arrived the King of the Jews.

 

“Yet in all that time no news have I heard,

And surely the boy now is grown,

When, and how, will that king save his people,

If he doesn’t yet sit on the throne?”

 

So the wise man determined to retrace his steps,

Though this time not led by a star,

A pilgrim, he travelled the long dusty roads,

For months, for the journey was far.

 

But in the nights he had trouble of mind,

While his body laid down in rest,

Nagging thoughts brewed deep in his heart,

An uneasiness stirred in his chest.

 

For wise men, too, are subject to doubts,

As oaks may be swayed by the wind,

And the old man shook at a looming terror—

He felt the weight of his sins.

 

He said, “I can see my heart laid bare,

I have heard the intents of my mind,

Every secret deed will be weighed in the scales,

And how little of good I can find.

 

“My youthful years lost to reckless plans,

My only regard was myself,

Consumed with ambition, and pleasures, and gold,

Not a thought for anyone else.

 

“And now that I’ve turned from those foolish ways,

I’m smarter, though I fear just as cold,

I’m embarrassed to look at my heart and see,

How poorly I have honoured God.

 

“For all my desire to do what is right,

It still hasn’t changed me within,

It would take a power much greater than me,

To overcome my sin.”

 

Well, at last he arrived in the Hebrew’s land,

That old wise man from the east,

And found Jerusalem bustling with people,

For he’d come at the time of the feast.

 

He searched around and asked all men,

Where to find the King of the Jews,

Some were offended, some afraid to answer,

And some of them just confused.

 

He went through the streets of feverish crowds,

But couldn’t make sense of the scene,

He passed by the Roman Praetorium,

Where a riotous mob had been.

 

Then having not found what he’d come to seek,

He left the city by a path,

But just outside on a stony hill,

A crowd had gathered above.

 

So the wise man slowly began the climb,

 To the top of the rugged slope,

And for some answer he prayed to God,

Albeit with dwindling hope,

 

Thinking, How could a man, though a king he be,

And even one sent by God,

Deliver a slave of sin like me,

From the judgment that is in store?

 

Then, suddenly, thunder cracked above,

The earth trembled as if in fright,

An agonised cry rang out in the air,

And darkness blotted out the sky.

 

The wise man rushed up the quaking ascent,

Glad to have made it unscathed,

And came to the edge of that cursed plateau,

The Place of a Skull by name.

 

He pressed his way through the fearful crowd,

’Til he witnessed a violent scene,

He’d walked right in on an execution,

Unlike any he’d ever seen.

 

On three wooden crosses were nailed three men,

The middle one, by now, already dead,

His body was broken and bloodied from whips,

There was a crown of thorns on his head.

 

And by the cross stood a hardened soldier,

With a look shocking to behold,

Humbled and in awe, he confessed aloud,

“This man was the Son of God.”

 

Then the old wise man looked up at the cross,

And a strange thing caught his view,

Above the dead man was nailed a sign,

That said: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

 

Well, months went past and the old wise man,

Returned to his Persian home,

Where he told everyone what he’d seen in Judea,

And all he had come to know.

 

“I saw,” he said, “the Son of God,

An offering for my sin,

And the condemnation I deserve,

God poured it out on him.

 

“Then I saw that man who died for me,

When he’d risen from the dead,

He came to give us everlasting life,

His words still echo in my head.

 

“I tell you now, and I’ll even shout,

From the rooftops, this good news,

There is forgiveness and life for all who believe,

In Jesus, the King of the Jews!”

 

And all who had known that old wise man,

Said he glowed with even more joy,

Than the last time he returned from Judea,

And kept talking about a boy.

 

© 2018 MILES VENISON ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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