January 4

Text: Matthew 2:1, 2

Mt 2:1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him." (NASB)

The most interesting people at the events surrounding Jesus’ birth and infancy were the magi.   They are the most interesting because they were not Jewish—everyone else was!  How they knew about the meaning of the star (bright heavenly light???) and that Jesus was born to be King of the Jews is unknown.  Their knowledge was so certain that they came, they brought gifts, they sought Jesus out, and they came to worship the infant.

Their coming was the first indication that God through Jesus was interested in all people, not just the Israelite people.  They arrived [from a place not named] well after Jesus’ birth.  Joseph’s family was [at the time of the magi’s arrival] in a house [not a stable] (Matthew 2:11).  Herod learned from the magi when they saw the star (Matthew 2:7), and he later had all the male children from birth to age two killed in Bethlehem and places nearby (Matthew 2:16).  From Herod’s determination, Jesus could have been as old as two—Herod was determined to kill Jesus!

Traditions older than ours of today claimed there were up to twelve magi who came.  People in the western world generally follow the tradition of there being three men on the assumption that three gifts imply three men.

Matthew wrote that the magi did not return to Herod as he requested because God warned them in a dream not to do so.  Matthew also wrote that God through an angel in a dream warned Joseph to flee to Egypt with Mary and Jesus.  In this there will be a strong parallel between God rescuing Israel from slavery through Moses’ leadership and God rescuing this world’s people from evil through Jesus’ leadership.

Suggestion for reflection: The righteous person seeks the ability to distinguish between good intentions and evil intentions.  (Consider Deuteronomy 18:15.)

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