Centuries before the writing of this Gospel, Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians and the Israelites found themselves exiled in a land far from home. As the faithful Israelites recounted God’s faithfulness to their ancestors, their captors could not help but take notice. Traces of their faith remained in the East. Indeed, some interpreters have stated that Judaism’s impact on the East was significant enough to color today’s narrative. The magi would have seen the star in the sky, recalled the ancient Hebrew prophecies of a future king, and set out toward Jerusalem, gifts in tow—contributing characters on the eternal stage.
The star disappears as the wise men arrive in Jerusalem. Perhaps to them it seems that divine providence has run out. They come to Jerusalem to inquire, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” Their inquiry makes King Herod raise the same question: “Where” will the Christ child be born? His religious leaders rattle off the prophecy from Micah and return to their day jobs. King Herod is simply rattled.
Prophecy in mind, the wise men, with the gift of the distance of perspective, journey on to the little town of Bethlehem. The star reappears as the heavens bear witness that God never falls short on guidance. It stops over the place where Jesus lies.
When the magi arrive and see Jesus, they have no choice but to worship. They offer gifts that seem less fitting for a child. Those gifts, however, give a different type of provision. The child and his family will require rescue from King Herod who has given only lip service and will eventually kill all male children age two and under in an attempt to remove the disturbance of a God who keeps age-old promises. Herod tries to stop God’s promise; the religious leaders ignore it; but the faithful from the past, present, and future know that God always provides.
Lord, help us always keep our hearts tuned to an eternal perspective. Amen.
Isaiah 60:1-6 recalls the coming of God into the world as a brilliant light. That light carries with it the power to transform Israel so that those outside Israel are drawn to her light. Ephesians 3:1-12 points out God’s mysterious inclusion of the Gentiles among God’s people. The gift of light carries with it the obligation to accept and proclaim the inclusion of all out- siders. The psalm and Gospel passages draw on imagery of the king and his enthronement. For the psalmist, the king’s power and longevity must serve the purpose of the people’s good. The magi in Matthew are drawn by the light that marks the infant king’s birth and thus begin the process of outsiders who see in the gospel the mystery of salvation.
• Read Psalm 72:1-7; 10-14. How should we pray for our world’s leaders? What is our responsibility in working for justice and righteousness in our world today?
• Read Isaiah 60:1-6. Where have you seen evidence of God’s presence? How has God used you as a light to dispel dark- ness?
• Read Matthew 2:1-12. How do you respond when people ask you spiritual questions? In what ways have you sought the Lord and been sensitive to God’s guidance?
• Read Ephesians 3:1-12. How has God blessed you beyond your perceived boundaries?
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