THE VISIT OF THE MAGI + MATTHEW 2:1-12
Bible Background: Only Matthew tells this story of foreigners who come seeking the newborn king! We don’t know much about them! We think they came from Persia (modern day Iran) and were Zoroastrian priests. They weren’t kings-even though they are usually pictured as such. Matthew doesn’t even tell us there were three of them; only that they brought three kinds of gifts! They were likely part-astronomer and part-astrologer, since they paid such attention to the night sky. They remain somewhat mysterious figures, whom we appreciate for their curiosity and their determination and their generosity.
1. The Magi undertake a major journey! (They don’t arrive the day after Jesus’ birth. More like months or a year after Jesus is born! Matthew reports them seeing “the child” rather than a baby! Also, they enter a “house” rather than a stable.) What is the reward for their long journey? Note how “they were overwhelmed with joy!” When is a time you have been “overwhelmed with joy?”
2. This story goes on to include a jealous, old, King-Herod. Assuming Matthew has his history right, this suggests that Jesus is born around 6 B.C. (according to the modern calendar.) Herod the Great died in 4 B.C. Are you curious about the “star” that they follow? There were several conjunctions of planets around the time of 7 B.C. to 4 B.C. In truth, we don’t know for sure what they saw in the sky or how a “star” may have guided them. We know they were determined to make the journey! We know they were curious and dedicated seekers! What knowledge or experience do you most seek? What curiosity about God, Jesus, or the world, would lead you to undertake a big journey? Would you dare journey to Tanzania or El Salvador (our sister synods) to meet the ‘church’ and our missionaries there?
3. Throughout Matthew’s gospel, people bow down to worship Jesus. The Magi are the first to do that. The disciples are the last (in the closing scene). Always think of how our worship and different ways to worship can show our devotion to Jesus!
4. The idea that God gets the attention of scientists from another religion in another part of the world, is somewhat mind-blowing! The ones who are supposed to be ‘wise’ in Jerusalem, don’t seem to have it figured out. King Herod certainly doesn’t. We give thanks that God’s reach, and the Good News of Jesus, knows no bounds!
5. What gifts can we bring to Jesus? That’s always a good question! In 2019 consider what ways you can offer your time, your talents, and your treasures for the work of God’s kingdom.