Magi Learn about Jesus
- Want to learn more about Jesus.
- Imagine how the Magi felt when they found Jesus.
- Tell how the Magi showed their love for Jesus.
- Name ways we can show Jesus we love him.
We tend to be so used to this story as it's depicted on countless Christmas cards that we fail to see how odd it really is. For one thing, the shepherds are often pictured, which is wrong, since the Magi obviously showed up some time after the night Jesus was born. But who are they? Who bring Jesus gifts that recognize his kingly stature and universal authority? Some Persian astrologers, pagan stargazers who think they can predict human affairs by the movements of the stars. To the Jews, who were the main audience of this gospel originally, this is not just odd but ludicrous. Astrology was specifically condemned as idolatry in the Law of Moses. (And, by the way, the Bible says nothing about three wise men.)
They show up in Jerusalem one day, telling everyone that theyve seen a special star, the sure sign that a new King of the Jews has been born. Herod, it says, was disturbed.Of course he was; he was the king of the Jews and would never tolerate a rival. Still, he went through the charade of gathering the religious notables to see if he could find out chapter and verse on where the Messiah was to be born. And there it was in Micah---Bethlehem, the city of David.
Feigning excitement, Herod sent the Magi off to Bethlehem to search carefully for the child,and, of course, report back to him so that he too might worship the new King. Knowing nothing of the treachery in Herods heart, they set off for Bethlehem, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them. . . . When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
Then comes the scene that's rightly depicted on so many Christmas cards and in so many famous paintings---the Magi bowing low in worship, while Mary and the baby receive their expensive gifts meant for royalty. And once more an angel intervenes to warn the Magi to return home another way.
Its a wonderful and simple story, but what does it mean, and why is it included so prominently in Matthews telling of the story? Sneaking a peek to the end of Matthew's story gives a hint. After telling the adventure of Jesus life and death and resurrection, Matthew has Jesus speak the final word before his ascension: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations(28:19). Already at the beginning of Jesus' life the nations, represented by these pagan Magi, bow before the Lord. This child will not only be the King of the Jews, but the King of kings, the Lord of the nations.
There is something else very interesting going on in this story. God meets the Magi where they are. Are they astrologers, pagan stargazers? That's where God meets them. But that revelation by itself is not enough. The answer to their question Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews?can only be answered in God's special revelation, the Bible. Then, following both the star and the biblical prophecy, they come to Bethlehem. There they make the final step, bowing in reverence before the one hinted at in the stars and revealed in the Scriptures---the long-awaited Messiah. And that's where all revelation must finally lead: to genuine, heartfelt faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
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