December 10, 2017


Tribe Recap of December 10, 2017 | Matthew 2

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, 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.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:

‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah;
For out of you shall come forth a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.
— Matthew 2:1-12 (NASB)

There are many mysteries surrounding the Magi.  Who were they?  Where did they live? How many came to see Jesus?  How old was Jesus when they arrived; what caused them to make their long journey?
A careful look at Matthew chapter 2 reveals an interesting twist to one of the mysteries of the Magi, who were students of astrology, medicine, and natural science.  The Magi may have seen a sign in the heavens that faded shortly after initially being seen.
In verse 2 the Magi say they ‘saw’ (past tense) a star in the east.  During his interview with the Magi, Herod seemed to be unfamiliar with the star, and after his conversation with them in verse 9 and 10, we read, “and lo, the star which they had seen in the east, went on before them,” and “when they saw the star they rejoiced.” 
In other words, after speaking with Herod, who couldn’t see the star, the Magi were delighted to see the star appear again, the same one “which they had seen in the east.” In the 1600s Johannes Kepler calculated a convergence of Jupiter, Saturn, and the constellation Pisces during Christ’s birth and after Kepler read a commentary by Rabbi Isaac Abarbanel, which said this convergence lined up with Jewish beliefs about the coming of the messiah, he proposed this as the star the Magi saw (Gorny, 2014).  This convergence would have happened three times that year.
The fascinating twist about reconstructing the Magi’s journey is that most probably they did not have the benefit of seeing the star for the duration of their trek to the holy land.  The star was a sign they ‘saw’ but then quickly faded.  It was something they had to investigate, believe in, and act upon.  It was something they believed they would see again.
These magi made their journey without the benefit of a constant supernatural reminder in the sky.  Suddenly this story is something I can relate to!  God shows us truth, a light, points the way, but then it is up to us to believe in the message and go on the journey.  It is up to us to believe that God will show the way through the dark and be there to greet us at the end.
When the star pointed to Bethlehem the Magi left Jerusalem, found the boy and presented treasures of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Jesus.  Gold, befitting of a king, would have financed the family’s evacuation to Egypt.  Frankincense, befitting to give a priest, would have helped to treat stress and anxiety, and myrrh, a good gift for a prophet, was an effective antiseptic.
How beautiful and wise is God!  He operates in poetic beauty but also provides exactly what we need at the exact time we need it.  The Magi’s gifts represent God’s ability to give perfect gifts but also challenge us to give what we have to the Lord.
One day, we will see God face to face, just as the Magi did.  We will lay our treasures at his feet.  We will see that even when we felt like we were walking blind through the desert, our Lord was capable of helping us find the way.  We will see the face of a Jesus, the One who dwelled in the hearts of men, unseen, who guided us every step along the journey of life.
Reference: Three Kings Ten Mysteries; Secrets of Christmas and Epiphany by Grzegorz Gorny. Ignatius Press, 2014.

Ken JensenJustin Kofoed