Matthew 2:1-12 – The Wise Men

Read Matthew 2:1-12

The wise men from the East sure did a number on the status quo in Jerusalem that day when they asked about the birth of Jesus. Little did they know how that simple question would rile the king. King Herod did a great job in deflecting his anger at the news as he craftily obtained the information he needed. Something tells me he isn’t interested in worshiping the new king.

Note that the number of wise men is never mentioned. Our tradition would suggest there were three, but it could have been two, four, or more. The word “some” is open for interpretation. An interesting aside, but certainly not something to get stuck on. What is cool is that they wanted to worship this newborn king. This meeting between Jesus and the magi is referred to as the Epiphany, and in the Christian tradition is celebrated on January 6.

I wondered why all of Jerusalem was troubled by the news of a newborn king and not just Herod. Apparently, this particular Herod was known for his outbursts and rampages leading to unnecessary deaths. I’m sure the people of Jerusalem were fearing for their lives knowing Herod would become unstable at the news.

Jesus’ birth had been foretold. Even Herod knew this. The details unfolded perfectly to fit into God’s plan. The magi had seen the star they attributed to the birth of a king and followed it to find Jesus. Can you imagine Mary’s surprise when these strange men arrived at her house in Bethlehem? Then they promptly bowed before her and her child. Then they opened up their treasures and gave Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These are not necessarily the gifts you’d give a young child, but Jesus was not just any child.

So what images did this reading conjure up for you? Were you remembering Christmas pageants from years gone by? Christmas in July (if you’re reading this as I post). Matthew’s account gives us the magi, not the shepherds and the angels. There is no manger, Jesus is now living in a house and presumably much older than a newborn.

For me, I was struck by the diligent search. We need to be searching for Jesus, too. We need to be intent on being in his presence. We should focus on our worship and adoration. We often get side-tracked and off course. Our attention is split and looking in the wrong direction. What can we do to be better followers of Jesus?

Let’s pray. Lord, I thank you for the reminder to be searching for you. You are not hidden from view. Your majesty is all around me. Sometimes my head gets full of tasks that keep me from spending time with you. Forgive me for the times when the noise of the world deafens me. Guard my heart against deception. May I be the light others need to find you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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