Courtesy of Robin M. Jensen

The promise of salvation is represented by paired scenes of Jesus raising the dead (left) and the magi approaching the babe (right) on this fourth-century sarcophagus, from the Vatican’s Museo Pio Cristiano. As the first to recognize Jesus as messiah, the magi, according to the early church, were also the first to recognize the promise of eternal life through resurrection. This hopeful message of the magi accounts for their frequent appearance in funerary settings