Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Fourth Wise Man

One of my favorite holidays stories is The Fourth Wise Man. There are different versions of it, but the one I know and love tells the tale of a man named Artaban. Artaban was supposed to meet the other Wise Men when the star proclaiming the Savior's birth appeared. They had a plan to travel to the birthplace of the Son of God and present their precious gifts of gold, frankinsense, myrrh, and several large jewels that Artaban would bring. When the star showed, however, Artaban was late, and the others went on without him.

Artaban, unwilling to give up, followed the star on his own. He came upon a town where Roman guards were taking the children under 2 years old, by Herod's decree. Artaban, hearing a muffled cry from one of the houses, entered and found a woman there, hysterical and clutching her baby. A Roman soldier soon came and tried to enter the home, but Artaban paid him off with the huge ruby he had been saving for the Savior, thus saving the child's life. He took comfort in knowing he still had an emerald, a diamond, and a pearl to give to the Savior.

The rest of the story goes on to tell of Artaban's travels, and how he found more people to help, each time sacrificing one of his gifts for the Savior. At the end of his life, he arrived in Jerusalem, on a day where a man named Jesus would be crucified. He was saddened to hear of it, but did not know that Jesus was the man whom he had been seeking for so long. At one point Artaban heard a disturbance behind him. He turned to see a soldier trying to take a girl from her parents. When questioned, the soldier revealed that she had been sold as a slave by one of her parents' creditors. Artaban, with his last precious jewel, paid the debt the parents owed and liberated the girl.

At that moment, there was an earthquake--for this was the moment the Savior died--that made a wall to fall on Artaban. In his dying moments, he despaired that he had never found the Savior and given him his gifts. But right before he passed away, he heard a voice saying "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." In all the ways he had served and loved others, Artaban had indeed found his King.

Each year at this time, I am reminded of Artaban and his quest. I am always pulled, no matter how far I am spiritually from where I should be at the time, to launch my own journey to find the Savior. I am hoping to find Him this year through loving service to my family and by stilling my own desires and selfish needs.

What will your journey be like?