These men were expecting a Jewish king to be born from prophecy. They must have been elated when they finally saw the star. We don’t know much about these men, other than they were wise. The text doesn’t say where they came from, how long they had traveled, or how many of them there were. Have we assumed three because there were three special gifts? (Fun fact: the Eastern church recognizes there were twelve wise men!)
Their wisdom had prepared them for this moment. You can imagine many people had seen that glorious star in the sky, but they had no idea what it meant. Somehow, these men knew it signified the birth of a future Jewish king, even greater than King Herod, the then current king on the throne.
This Advent reading comes from Jesus’ teaching on the future found in Matthew 24:
“So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”
Jesus is coming back. He said so himself. Even as we draw closer to the celebration of His first coming, I’m still excited for Jesus’ second coming. Jesus gives us a warning here we should to pay attention to. “Keep watch!” Since we’re not meant to know exactly when he’s coming, being on watch will assure we are not drifting away from God’s loving arms. The not knowing can also make the waiting and watching much harder.
As we walk through Holy Week together with Jesus, today we meet up with him in the Temple. Our last reading shared about the triumphant entry into Jerusalem followed by his outburst in the temple overturning money changers. It’s a rare moment when we see Jesus display his humanity with such anger. The leading priests and leaders are curious and call Jesus out on such behavior.
Jesus handles the confrontation well. He could have been annoyed that his teaching was interrupted. After all, he knew that his days were few. Yet, in the few verses we read today, we see how Jesus stays poised and very effective in his communication. Jesus used this opportunity as a teachable moment and started telling stories.
When you think of Palm Sunday, what is the first memory that comes to your mind? Please share in the comments. I’m expecting that waving palm fronds and processionals in church come to mind. These are precious memories that help us remember a special day!
I had the honor and privilege to teach Mexican children about Palm Sunday this year. While we have plenty of palm trees in our neighborhood, I wasn’t keen on climbing them to pull down some palm leaves, so we used balloons for our praise and adoration time. To see the delight on the children’s faces and imagine that it was seeing Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem with that much joy was very moving.
The setting was the upper room. Jesus was gathered with his dearest friends and followers. This would be Jesus’ last meal with them. Jesus knew what was coming, but the disciples did not fully understand. How fitting that it was the Passover feast, complete with a spotless lamb!
What would you have thought sitting at the table that night when Jesus said, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.” Jesus’ body? Seriously? If the disciples had been paying attention, they might recall how Jesus had been preparing them for what was to come. Jesus would soon be crucified. That, too, must have really given them pause to fully accept.