The sixth Advent Journey we come to today is, as far as we know, the longest and at the same time the most enigmatic. Enigmatic because we know little of those who journeyed (except that they were ‘Magi’ ‘Wise Men’ from the East – possibly Persia), nothing of their mode of transport (although all those who have attempted to illustrate their coming have decided on camels), but what we do have is a fairly detailed account of the purpose of their journey, the impact their arrival had on Herod and Jerusalem and God’s miraculous guiding of their journeys both to and from Jerusalem.
Their opening question on arrival was direct and to the point! “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” We are not told how this very exact information came to them so we can only conjecture. Had some of the OT writings reached them by some means? If so what prompted them, presumably not members of God’s people – the Jews, to read and follow up on what they read? Whichever it was there is the ‘star’, ‘his star’ and from what they knew he was worthy of worship. (Matthew 2.2).
I want to focus today, not on Herod’s reaction to the Magi’s visit nor on the dream they had warning them to return home by a different route, but on what drew them to Bethlehem, their response on finding the child and what they did.
As noted above we cannot know with any assurance what set them off on their journey except the ‘star’ and even the means by which they understood what the star meant was hidden from us. So we may conjecture that with very limited knowledge they responded to what they saw and knew and set out in faith.
Their faith was rewarded with joy as the star they had being following stopped ‘over the place where the child was.
Their faith then turned to action as they worshipped and presented gifts.
What may we learn from this? A number of things, which should excite us, encourage us and engage us.
Excitement: The birth of the Saviour of the world was not for Jews only! Right at the beginning Gentiles were included.
Encouragement: For the searcher who really wants to find the information required is available and where that may be hidden, then supernatural leading, in this case the star, and for example in the Muslim world today, many dreams that point to Jesus.
Engagement: The Magi were not simply casual observers but men committed to engage with the Saviour as they presented gifts. The significance of these gifts is not explained in the Bible but
Gold for a King
Frankincense for Deity
Myrrh for Burial
is the way they have been explained.
This is conjecture but they don’t appear random gifts but carefully chosen causing us to wonder how they knew what they appeared to know. Causing us to ask the question am I acknowledging by my life and witness what I know of Jesus. Have I (do I) actively seek him at personal cost or dare I say it, ‘am I just a bystander at the birth of the Saviour who is Christ the Lord.
This birth we for ALL PEOPLE! how do we respond?