Epiphany, commonly observed on January 6, is a feast day which, in the Western Rite of Christianity, commemorates the visitation of the Biblical Magi to the Baby Jesus.
The Magi, also referred to as the (Three) Wise Men, the (Three) Kings, or Kings from the East, were a group of distinguished travellers who visited Jesus after his birth, bringing him kingly gifts and paying him homage as the “King of the Jews.” They are recognized figures in the Nativity story and are an important part of the Christian tradition.
Their visit is described in Matthew 2:1–12 in the New Testament of the Bible.
According Matthew’s account, the Magi found Jesus by ‘following’ a star, which thus traditionally became known as the Star of Bethlehem. Various theories have been propounded to explain this event, since stars do not visibly move and therefore cannot be followed in the conventional sense. Some believe the Wise Men may actually have followed a planet, a conjunction of several planets, a comet, or other celestial phenomena which were visible to them, moving slowly across the sky.
On finding Jesus (termed by Matthew a “young child” and by then living “in [a] house”), they gave him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Subsequently warned in a dream that King Herod of Judea intended to kill him, they defied the king’s order to report the Child’s location, and pursued their homeward journey by a different route.
After these events the Magi passed into obscurity.
The visit of the Wise Men is depicted in the following beautiful five-minute video from the The Life of Jesus Christ Bible Videos, produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Don’t miss the film’s closing scene, which portrays the flight of Jesus and his parents to the safety of Egypt.
About the Magi, the early LDS scholar James E. Talmage wrote:
“Much has been written, beyond all possible warrant of scriptural authority, concerning the visit of the magi, or wise men, who thus sought and found the infant Christ. As a matter of fact, we are left without information as to their country, nation, or tribal relationship; we are not even told how many they were, though unauthenticated tradition has designated them as “the three wise men,” and has even given them names; whereas they are left unnamed in the scriptures, the only true record of them extant, and may have numbered but two or many.” (James E. Talmage, in “Jesus the Christ“.)
Finally, consider the detail in this marvelous painting by LDS artist Howard Lyon, in which Jesus is depicted as a curly-haired boy in his toddler years, receiving gifts from the Wise Men in the street outside his home, under the watchful eyes of Mary, Joseph, and the family dog.