Good morning, happy Epiphany, and many blessings.
Matthew’s sublime story (Matthew 2:1-12) of the adoration of the Magi has often been better understood by poets and artists than by scholars, whose microscopic analysis has missed its essence.” What a wonderful insight! The difference is one of attitude. The poet and artist approach scripture with wonder and affection—with the heart. The scholar approaches scripture systematically and analytically—with the head. Both have their place, but this story shows how Christ enriches those who bring him their hearts. The Magi came with joy in their hearts to see the Christ child, and God allowed them to see wondrous things.
The word epiphany means an appearance or manifestation, particularly of a divine being—or an illuminating discovery, especially one that comes unexpectedly. Epiphany marks the first manifestation of Jesus to the Gentiles. It signals that God loves Gentiles as well as Jews—that God’s plan of salvation includes Gentiles too. That might seem a moot point now—of academic interest only. The church has embraced Gentiles for centuries. Most Christians today are Gentiles. Isn’t this a dead issue?
Everyone knows of the wise men that are connected with the birth of Jesus. Most manger scenes at Christmas time have the wise men positioned somewhere near the manger. Traditionally they are kneeling beside the manger worshipping the Baby Jesus. If in reality, they were there the night of the birth they had jet-powered camels. They came from afar off. They did not arrive until sometime later, perhaps as long as two years later. Many scholars believe that it was two years before they arrived in Bethlehem. Matthew 2:16 suggests this time frame. In 2:11 we do find that the Baby Jesus was in a house and not a manger. The announcement that Christ was born brought interest from all over the world. The same is true today. There is more interest in and about the birth of Christ than any other person.
These wise men excursion was a faith journey. They read about the promised One in God's Word and believed what God's Word told them, and so acted on their faith. Like the Magi, we are on a journey of faith. All that we know about Jesus, all that we believe about salvation, we have learned from the Word of God. We believe by the same power of the Holy Spirit working through the Word of God as did the Magi of old. We, too, are on a journey of faith.
We also must live on the basis of what the Word says and what we believe. They traveled for hundreds of miles. They brought gifts, rare and precious. They worshiped and rejoiced. Can we do any less?
We must travel in our world by faith. We have been forgiven. We have the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ and His life and death and resurrection. We know that we are the objects of the love and favor of God. We must live as those who have passed beyond the things of this world - particularly the evil things. We cannot let the Herods of our day keep us from worshiping the Christ. Nor can we let them deceive us and destroy our Lord's work in this world.
Something that always goes unnoticed is that the Magi disobeyed Herod.
other words, this is a teaching of civil disobedience. When a law is unjust, it must be broken, because an unjust law is not a law.