The story of “The Other Wise Man” by Henry Van Dyke is one of my favorites for Christmastime as it turns on the principles taught in Matthew 25:40 that we should serve our fellow men and women. And isn’t that what Christmas is all about?
It is fairly long though and so I have just posted a summary for today. To read the whole story (which I would recommend) you can click here.
The Other Wise Man (Summary)
by: Henry Van Dyke
This story tells of a fourth wise man, a magi priest named Artaban, who set out to find the Christ child. Like the other magi, he sees the signs in the heavens that prophesy of the birth of a King among the Jews. Like them, he sets out to bring gifts to the child – a sapphire, a ruby, and “a pearl of great price.” However, he stops on his way to save a dying man, which makes him miss the caravan with the others. Because he missed the caravan he is not able to cross the dessert with just his horse and is forced to sell his sapphire in order to purchase the camels and goods needed for the journey.
Eventually, Artaban arrives in Bethlehem but the child and his family have already fled to Egypt. While in Bethlehem he dines with a young mother and her baby. During dinner, Herod’s soldiers storm the streets of Bethlehem acting out his decree to kill male children. Artaban stops Herod’s captain at the door and offers his ruby to the captain if he will leave them alone.
Finally, after searching for the King for thirty-three years, and performing many acts of charity along the way. “Artaban is still a pilgrim, and a seeker after light” and he arrives in Jerusalem just in time for the crucifixion of Jesus. But before he is able to find the King and offer his last gift, the pearl, he sees a young woman about to be sold into slavery and gives her the pearl to save her from such a fate.
Immediately after saving the woman the earth begins to shake, signifying Christ’s death. Artaban is struck on the head by a falling tile and passes away, having failed in his quest to find Jesus, but having done much good. A voice tells him:
“Verily I say unto thee, Inasmuch as thou hast done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, thou hast done it unto me.”
He passes away peaceful knowing that his gifts had been accepted. He had found his King.