A Message from Pastor Dave 1-4-19
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”
When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. Matthew 2:1-12
Happy New Year! The quirky little story about the three dignitaries from the East who follow the star to the manger of Jesus is among the more well-known stories from Jesus’ life. Perhaps because of all the Christmas pageants, perhaps because of the Christmas Carols (“We Three Kings,” etc.), even those who are least familiar with the story of Jesus have heard the story of the wise men who come to visit the baby Jesus.
They are not, however, kings. The Greek word that describes them (magi) can be translated either as “wise men” or “astrologers.” They were likely part of a Persian or Babylonian group of priests who studied the heavens looking for signs from the gods. They interpret the appearance of a star to signal the birth of a new, world leader and they set out to find who and where. When Matthew elected to include them in his telling of the story of Jesus’ birth, he is calling attention to the truth that the gift of God’s Son is a gift for the whole world! These non-Jewish leaders are drawn by God’s initiative through a means of God’s choosing to draw them to the Christ. What we know is that they come, they worship, they leave their gifts, and being warned of the harm King Herod intends to do to this newborn king, they return home “by another road.” After they leave, we never hear about them again.
In a wonderful vignette from the book The Shack, fictional character, Mac, asks Jesus if it is true that all religions are the same and that all roads lead to God. Jesus responds, “Most roads don’t lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you.” I believe that. I believe God chose one particular road and one particular life through which to make Himself most fully known. Jesus is that Way and Jesus is that Life. But I also believe that God never ceases in His efforts to gather and love the people of this planet and is at work in ways we would have never imagined. God is there on whatever path or road you may be walking this day and eager to hold your attention and finally your heart. Be alert and aware, people of God! When God draws you in, it is never the same road home. Make it a blessed and faithful New Year!