Matthew 2:1-12

Christmas, By Different Route

Yup, I know this is a bit early for wise men but stick with me. These wise guys have a lot to teach us about approaching the birth of a savor, of God-with-us in Jesus. We will talk about this on Sunday. For now, read the text and see what God is telling us.

Before we move on, Jesus is likely around two years old when the wise men show up Jesus is close to two years old (see Matthew 2:17) and the family is living in a house (see Matthew 2:11) no in a stable. The Bible is silent on the number of wise men. Three is assumed because of the three presents though the western Orthodox Churches assume for some reason there were twelve. Oh, sorry to say, the names of Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar are the stuff of legends. Hope this does not ruin your love of Christmas.

All this said, God uses the wise men or magi to welcome the Son-of-God’s entrance into our world. Their sacrifice and perseverance in making what is likely a very long and arduous journey is testimony to their belief that this child born in the out of the way town of Bethlehem in the tiny country of Israel was indeed worthy of their praise! Here are a few facts and questions to help you begin to interpret the place of the wise men in the story of the birth of Jesus.

King Herod, though pretending to be excited to worship the child, is angered and even terrified at the possibility of the birth of “the King of Jews.” “All of Jerusalem” speaks of the Jewish religious leadership. What are they both so up in arms about?

King Herod built numerous opulent palaces and fortresses. He murdered his rivals including one of his wives and two of his sons. To see his use of violence read Matthew 2:16-18 where Herod commits mass infanticide to insure his position of power. Contrast how Herod uses power with how God-in-Jesus uses power. What does this say about how we are to live rightly in the Kingdom or the Rule of God?

The magi are Gentiles (not Jews, unwelcome in the people of God) and likely practice magic and astrology. They travel great distances and risk much to worship the “King of the Jews.” What does this tell us about the scope of the Kingdom of God?

Finally, the magi worship a small child in a small house in a no where town. They offer the child costly gifts. Yup, Jesus lives in a house and is worshiped and Herod in a palace and, well, is simply asked for directs. What is God telling you an me about who Jesus is and what Jesus will be up to in our world?

See you Sunday.

AMEN for now.

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