Matthew 2:10-11 – When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. (NIV)
Through the many years of directing Christmas pageants, I have been intrigued by the wise men or magi. Reflecting on the purpose of the magi's visit, one wonders what their divine place in this magnificent birth story was. People assume today that they were most likely learned astronomers, and well off, as they brought expensive gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh, all fit for a king. But why were they really there?
The magi were looking for a baby born to be king, which was enough to cause King Herod grave worries for his crown. After Herod's court directed them to Bethlehem, the wise men followed the star all the way there.
For last year's Christmas pageant, we, too, had a star slowly moving high up at the back of the choir loft. I was relieved to see it still up there whenever I looked. But what does the star that guided the wise men tell us? Is it not true that without divine guidance we would all be lost, or that we all need directing? Those wise men had divine guidance; today, we, too, have the Holy Spirit to guide us throughout life until we reach the eternal city.
I think that the visit of the magi, or wise men, reflects a truth about Jesus' mission that we often miss — all of them were foreigners! It was an early sign that Jesus' mission would reach far beyond the Jews, to foreigners. Isn't it wonderful — Jesus' mission would spread His love worldwide! So today, as we celebrate Epiphany or the visit of the wise men, we recognize that "Epiphany" means the revelation of Christ to the Gentiles. Most of us are Gentiles/foreigners, and we are so thankful that God cares about us, too. In the coming of Jesus to earth, God was offering the gift of salvation to all of us, world-wide.
The same powerful divine guidance today also sends thousands of missionaries to lands far across the desert of modern living, to foreigners. They follow in the magi's journey, sharing the love of God with strangers.
Yes, there is something really appealing about the magi: we can identify with them; their journey represents all of us who love the Lord Jesus as we travel through life. The only difference is that our gifts are poor in comparison, but our love for Jesus is the same. As did the magi at Jesus' birth, so we, too, bow down before Him and offer our gifts — our lives, our all.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, our journey to You is ongoing throughout life. Your love is with Your followers even in foreign lands. We pray today for all those who take Your message of salvation to faraway places, following Your eternal light. You go before each of Your missionaries as they travel the world with Your message of saving love. May we all be upheld by Your Spirit now and always. In Your name, we pray. Amen.
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