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otherwiseman4

Art: Robert T. Barrett
The “other” wise man, meeting the needs that cross his path, is too late to present gifts to the baby in the manger. But “Inasmuch as thou hast done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, thou hast done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)

I loved this story as a child. Just for you, I present a summary from Wikipedia, slightly edited.

“The Story of the Other Wise Man,” by Henry van Dyke, was initially published in 1895. The story is an expansion of the account of the Biblical Magi. It tells about a “fourth” wise man, a priest of the Magi named Artaban, one of the Medes from Persia. Like the other Magi, he sees signs in the heavens proclaiming that a King had been born among the Jews. Like them, he sets out to see the newborn ruler, carrying treasures to give as gifts to the child — a sapphire, a ruby, and a “pearl of great price.”

However, he stops along the way to help a dying man, which makes him late to meet with the caravan of the other three wise men. Because he missed the caravan, and he can’t cross the desert with only a horse, he is forced to sell one of his treasures in order to buy the camels and supplies necessary for the trip. He then commences his journey but arrives in Bethlehem too late to see the child, whose parents have fled to Egypt. He saves the life of a child at the price of another of his treasures.

He then travels to Egypt and to many other countries, searching for Jesus for many years and performing acts of charity along the way. After 33 years, Artaban arrives in Jerusalem just as Jesus as been condemned to death. He spends his last treasure, the pearl, to ransom a young woman from being sold into slavery. He is then badly injured in an accident and realizes he is dying. He has failed to meet Jesus because he has been busy meeting the needs that appear before him.

Then he hears a voice: “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.”(Matthew 25:40) His treasures have been accepted.

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Do you know “The Story of the Other Wise Man,” by Henry Van Dyke? It’s about a fourth wise man who sets out with treasures to give the baby born in Bethlehem.

He never makes it, because along the way he has to spend the treasures one by one to help someone in need. At the end of his life, he feels he has failed. Then he hears a voice saying, “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.”

Background on the tale is at wikipedia, here. You can get the whole story at Amazon. Better yet, how about your local library?

Sleep tight, Everyone.

Art: Hans Memling
Adoration of the Magi.

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