On Jan. 5, Pastor Jim preaches on Matthew 2:1-12.
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” 3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” 9 When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
The story of the Magi is mysterious. Who were these strange visitors from the East? We assume a lot of things about them. We assume they were kings. We assume they were wise, and we assume they were men. Since they brought three gifts we assume there were three of them, and that they rode camels, though none of these assumptions are biblical. The Bible specifies none of the above.
We do know that the word “magi” describes a sect of Zoroastrian priests. They studied the stars and were interested in astrology.
Science tells us that the nearest star to Earth, aside from the sun, is Alpha Centauri, which is about 4.3 light-years away. How could a star that far away have any hope of guiding anyone to the Christ Child? Again, mystery…..
Jesus may have been 2 years old when they found him. According to Matthew, his parents had moved out of the stable and into a house. I picture a little rent house with a tar paper roof. Perhaps Joseph had taken a job with a local carpentry company—who knows?
Imagine Mary gazing out her window to see these mysterious people walking toward her door.
We’ll think about these things on Sunday, my Magi friend. See you in church!