Do the names Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar ring any bells for you?
Were the “wise men” really men?
Why would I ask? My pastor buddy Jeff went and did it again! Got up to preach and started meddling. Want to hear one of the most interesting takes on the whole birth of baby Jesus thing? Listen [Controversial Christmas, part 1] to pastor Jeff’s take on it (in case you’re wondering, in a previous life Jeff was a standup comedian. Wait! He hasn’t had a previous life; does that mean . . .)
So, how many “kings” visited the manger? Answer: none. The dudes who went to see him arrived at his house, not manger, two years after his birth. On top of that, they weren’t “kings” at all. It’s more likely that there were as many as twelve of them. Three, twelve, what’s the difference of nine between shepherds and donkeys, right?
[What’s not emphasized is 1) the reason they went and 2) the supernatural celestial event that drew them there. Both are fascinating and revealing. Go do a Goggle search.]
So, who’s the ghost dude (Caspar) and friends? The names given to the three, who weren’t three, in the 6th century A.D. Some even call the ghost dude “Gaspar” instead of “Casper.” If you recall your cartoon lore, Casper the Friendly Ghost had 2 cohorts who were always hanging out with him. Maybe the ghost predates the kings and that’s where it all came from . . . probably not.
Were they men? According to the Church of England, they could have included women. The Anglicans indulged in some academic gender-swapping over the three Magi two years ago. Hey! We do live in an age of gender equality, you know. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. In fact, it really has quite a ring to it: “We three queens of orient are…”
It doesn’t change a thing; in fact, debunking the hokey makes the real all the more compelling. The Jesus Lord became man to bring man back to him. Now that’s the real stuff!