“Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.'” (Matthew 2:1b-2 NIV)
I never expected the Christmas nativity to be so adventurous till I began a background search on the wise men. That was like stepping through a quaint Christmas card and finding myself in a world of wide-eyed wonder. Gone was that traditional scene of three obscure camel riders in royal robes slipping into Judea one starry night. I’m now convinced that the biblical account of the Magi can help us grasp, with renewed awe, God’s immense love for humanity. Won’t you join me as I share some thoughts?
The Magi tradition traces back to the ancient Babylonian and Persian empires. This was a priestly class with powerful authority in middle-eastern civilization. These men possessed great knowledge in science, agriculture, astronomy, and more. They were the royal judges, lawmakers, and kingmakers, gaining revelation by divination and prophetic insight.
Centuries later, a special sign in the heavenlies stirred the Magi’s curiosity. It pointed to the birth of a King. These stargazers were so serious that they embarked on a lengthy pilgrimage across the hostile desert, perhaps 800 miles! Considering their status, this was perhaps a huge entourage, riding on royal steeds, accompanied by soldiers, slaves, cooks, and so forth. Whatever their size, they entered Jerusalem unannounced, seeking information on a royal Child’s whereabouts. Imagine the stir!
King Herod and all Jerusalem were terrified; a rival ruler spelt doom. Meanwhile, their religious authorities couldn’t be bothered to check out the possible fulfilment of biblical prophecy. Imagine! Both political and religious leaders chose to sidestep God’s divine plan. Meanwhile, a group of authorities on regal destinies had travelled an enormous distance to acknowledge and worship this infant King. They came, essentially, to coronate King Jesus.
For centuries now, Christians have found comfort in the humble obscurity surrounding Christ’s birth. Yet, the wise men remind us that this event was by no means obscure. The royal birth was recognized on an international level. It shook Jerusalem’s elite! This was world news — and today, the Magi challenge our modern assumption that faith is a private affair.
People are seeking Him through all kinds of means and places — maybe not through the stars, but maybe through social, political, or health concerns; maybe through scientific curiosity; maybe through YouTube. No matter where or how, God will reveal Himself to genuine seekers, just as He did for the Magi. Many seekers today literally come from the ancient lands of the Magi. These modern Persians, Iranians, are surrendering their lives to Christ in unprecedented numbers. That’s God’s relentless love — so wide and long and high and deep.
The Magi remind us that no political or religious power can sidestep the King of the universe. He still rules. Let us worship God with wonder and awe, and recognize Him for Who He truly is. Like the wise men, let us humbly bow on bended knee in worship before Him, and pay Him tribute with our very lives.
Prayer: Lord, kindle within us a renewed sense of wonder and inquiry surrounding Christ’s birth, that like the wise men, we, too, may orientate our entire lives for worshipping Him as the only legitimate King of all. Amen.
Copyright © 2021, by Diane Eaton <firstname.lastname@example.org>, first published on the PresbyCan Daily Devotional presbycan.ca .
Paisley, Ontario, Canada
Reprinted from PresbyCan with author’s permission