December 10, 2017
THROUGH THE DARK WE EXPECT TO FIND THE WAY AND LAY OUR TREASURES BEFORE JESUS
Tribe Recap of December 10, 2017 | Matthew 2
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.