For Spiritual Seekers (An Epiphany Reflection)

magi

Matthew tells the story of some spiritual seekers who are led to Christ in a unique way.

When Jesus was born in the village of Bethlehem in Judea, Herod was king.  During this time some Magi from the east came to Jerusalem.”   (Matthew 2:1)

The magi (sometimes called “wise men”) were priests from Persia known to possess supernatural knowledge and power.  They were particularly interested in astrology.  They didn’t believe in the one, true God of Israel.  But, they were, as William Barclay points out, “good and holy men, who sought the truth.”  These magi see a star in the sky they believe marks the birth of a king.  This inspires them to go to Jerusalem and ask –

Where is the newborn King of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to worship him.   (Matthew 2:2)

People have tried to explain this star in various ways – Halley’s comet, a new star (or supernova), or the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. But Matthew isn’t trying here to describe a natural phenomenon. The important thing here is that God uses nature in a supernatural way to lead the magi to His son. God will do whatever it takes to bring people to Christ.

But there are always those who resist God’s ways. We see this in Herod-

When King Herod heard this, he was startled, and so was all Jerusalem with him.   (Matthew 2:3)

Now, Herod had his good qualities. He built the Temple in Jerusalem. He reduced taxes for the poor and, during a famine, he gave away his gold to feed the people. But Herod had one fatal flaw. He was violently suspicious. He tried to get rid of anything that might pose a threat to his throne. Hearing about a newborn King of the Jews, he springs into action. He gathers together the religious leaders and determines that God’s chosen ruler is to be born in Bethlehem. He calls on the magi and finds out when the star first appeared. Then, in verse 8-

…he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child; and when you have found him, let me know, so I can come and worship him.”   (Matthew 2:8)

Herod shows us the hypocrisy that is all too common in the world. He says he wants to come and worship Christ, but he has hidden motives. In Herod, we find a prime example of one way people respond to Christ – with hatred and hostility. Herod, like many people today, does not want anything to interfere with his life, his status, his power, his influence. His instinct is to destroy Christ rather than receive him. Many people are like this – they go out of their way to criticize and condemn Christ because they don’t want him to change their lives.

The magi’s response is just the opposite. Having heard the prophecy in Scripture that the Savior would be born in Bethlehem, they set out and –

…the star they had seen at its rising went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!   (Matthew 2:9b-10)

The magi are thrilled to be led by God. They are guided in two ways. First they see God’s sign in nature – the star in the sky. Next, they hear God’s Word in Scripture. There are many people in the world who sincerely want to know what is right and do what is best and yet they don’t know God’s Word.

Are you a spiritual seeker?  Are you looking for a word of guidance?

Look to the Word that gives life to all good words… of encouragement, of comfort, of hope… in Christ.

(Bible passages taken from Matthew 2:1-10, found on Bible Gateway)

(image: “Magi detail from JoetheLion, some rights reserved)

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