Happy New Year.
Christmas cards show them dressed in rich robes, seated on camels, bringing precious gifts, as a bright star shines in the night sky guiding them to Bethlehem. When they arrive, they bow before Jesus and present their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Who are these figures? Why do they come?
Matthew 2:1 calls them Magi. Magi are mentioned in the Books of Daniel and of Esther. In fact, four Jews exiled in the 6th century BC to Babylon – Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – were enrolled as Magi by King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 1).
In the ancient empires of Babylon and Persia, Magi interpreted dreams and signs such as the alignment of planets or trail of comets or the appearance of strange lights in the sky. Because of their astrological skills, they were called “wise”.
As Christians, we find it odd – and perhaps disturbing – that Magi are part of the Christmas story. Why would God include pagan astrologers? And why would God use a star to guide them to Jesus? Certainly, God is not validating astrology or pagan belief, so what are we to make of the inclusion of the Magi? The clue is in how the story of the Magi's visit concludes.
Matthew 2:9-12 say
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
The Magi seek the King of the Jews. The star leads them to Jerusalem. But once there, they need more than a star – they need the prophecy of Scripture (Micah 5) to tell them where Jesus will be born. Then, interestingly, the star complies with Scripture – it guides them to Bethlehem.
When they arrive, they bow before Jesus and present their gifts – gifts that speak of royalty, anointing, and death. In other words, they worship Immanuel, the Saviour of the world, who will set people free from sin.
But what happens after they see Jesus? No longer do they seek guidance from the sky – the star is irrelevant. They are no longer pagan Magi; they believe in Jesus.
The Magi are you and me. We recognize in Jesus someone who will change our lives. But we must leave our old ways and old beliefs and bow before the true King, the true Saviour, the true God. The visit of the Magi is a story of conversion – a testimony of God’s grace drawing us from our false beliefs, misguided philosophies, and worldly attitudes to the truth of the Gospel.
That’s why the Magi are so important. The Magi tell us that the Gospel is for everyone. No wonder that at the end of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus commissions his disciples to go to all nations.
As we begin this year, give thanks to God that he sought you, he called you, he chose you, he appointed you as a child of his. We are no longer Magi, we are worshippers of the King.
Grace and peace and the blessings of the Lord for 2023
視頻大意翻譯(Brief video Chinese translation): 大家早，新年快樂!
但，這些人是誰呢? 他們為什麼來? 在簡單的靈修中他們又能教我們甚麼事? 馬太福音2:1稱呼他們是智者!在但以理書和以斯帖記中也提到他們。事實上，在六世紀時有四個猶太人被流放到巴比倫-但以理和他的三個朋友，哈拿尼雅、米沙利、亞撒利雅(比較為人所知的巴比倫名字是沙得拉、米煞、亞伯尼歌。)- 尼布甲尼撒王登記他們是智者(但以理書1)。
作為基督徒，我們覺得很奇怪-也許有些困擾-智者是聖誕故事的一部分。為什麼神要把外邦的占星家包括進來? 為什麼神要用星星來指引他們找到耶穌? 當然，神並不是在驗證占星家或外邦人的信仰，那，我們應該如何來看待智者的參與呢?