Bible Society of South Africa
Xanthe Hancox

People of the Nativity – Day 9

The Magi

Bible text(s)

Visitors from the East

1Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, during the time when Herod was king. Soon afterwards, some men who studied the stars came from the east to Jerusalem 2and asked, “Where is the baby born to be the king of the Jews? We saw his star when it came up in the east, and we have come to worship him.”

Matthew 2:1-2GNBOpen in Bible reader

God’s son was not born in one of the royal palaces of Herod the Great or revealed first to the chief priests, who were the God-appointed religious leaders. Instead, God’s son was born to Mary, a simple Jewish girl. He was raised by Joseph, a simple Jewish builder. His first guests were a few shepherds, nomadic people on the lower rung of society. In the Temple, he was greeted by righteous Simeon and the widow Anna, each noted for faithfulness and devotion to God. Then, sometime in the next month or year, came the Magi, strange and unlikely Gentile visitors from the east.

Who were these Magi? Some scholars think they were astrologers, others, emissaries from a king or even royalty themselves. Exactly how many Magi went to Herod (nowhere in the Bible does it suggest there were three) or what their job descriptions were, doesn’t really matter. What does matter, are the truths about Christ that Matthew wants us to see.

Firstly, Jesus is the Messiah, the King of the Jews, and should be honoured as such. Jesus is to be worshipped not just by Jews, but by all the nations of the world, as represented by the Magi from the east.

Another truth we need to see, is that God wields the universe to make his Son known and worshipped. Over and over, the Bible baffles our curiosity about just how certain things happened. How did this “star” get the Magi from the east to Jerusalem? And how did that star go before them the 7 km walk from Jerusalem to Bethlehem as verse 9 says it did? And how did a star stand “over the place where the Child was”? The answer is: we do not know.

The point is that a star did something it wouldn’t usually do because God designed it that way. Matthew shows God influencing the stars in the sky to get foreign Magi to Bethlehem so that they can worship him.

This is his great goal in all things – that his Son be known and worshipped.

Bible Society of South Africav.4.20.15
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