|Christkindl Markt, Cologne, Germany|
3 When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: 6 'And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.'"
|Three Kings Reliquary, Cologne Cathedral|
8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage." 9 After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
10 They were overjoyed at seeing the star, 11 and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
|Detail-Three Kings Reliquary, Cologne, Germany|
14 Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. 15 He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, "Out of Egypt I called my son." 16 When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi. 17 Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet: 18 "A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more."
|The Three Magi|
22 But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go back there. And because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee.
23 He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, "He shall be called a Nazorean." [Matthew 2]
The number of kings comes from the gifts they brought--gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The traditional names, Bathasar, Melchior, and Gaspar, also came much later. The gold was representative of the royalty of the new born king. Frankincense for honor of kingship and sweet smelling incense offered up to God. Myrrh was a traditional spice used for religious ceremonies and for burial (perhaps a fore sign of things to come). In all actuality, it may be these gifts that kept the family from starving in Egypt. It is a significant and beautiful part of the story of Christmas. It is an indication of the fact that Christ came for the whole world--gentiles as well as Jews. The Magi offered the best gifts they could think of for the King of the world, they rightly believed Jesus to be. God Bless them.