On this third day of Christmas I’d like to consider some ideas about the Magi. In the Christian year, they are focused on during the next season, Epiphany. But for many, they are passed by casually as three guys who bring presents. But a close reading of the Gospels gives us a lot more information. Between now and Epiphany I want to point out a few things that I think important.
First of all, if we look back at the OT prophecies, we see the birth of Jesus spelled out. Some point out that it would be possible for religious scholars – that’s what these “wise men” essentially were – to know that the Jews were looking for a Messiah, a king to be born. If they had taken this idea seriously as scholars are apt to do, they would have put 2 and 2 together, reading clues from Jewish prophets, and begun looking for signs.
Signs in the sky?
So, there was some interplanetary confluence in 4BC. But I don’t think that is what caught their eye. No, I think if they were looking west-southwest in the sky each night, I think they might have seen a glowing beacon that had nothing to do with the proximity of 2-3 planets. I think they saw the sky lit up from angels glorifying God. Luke describes the shepherds as seeing a “multitude of the heavenly host”.
If I’m right, the next day they would have made the arrangements necessary to make their way from – maybe Babylon – the east. This would have been quite a journey that would take weeks. The only reason we sing about three kings is three named gifts. More about the gifts later.
Also in the days to come I will consider a big reason to realize the Magi did not come to Bethlehem.
But to close today’s thoughts, I’d like to get back to the angels for a moment. What were they doing? Glorifying God. What is our primary objective as followers of Jesus? Glorifying God.
Let us be like the shepherds. At the end of their experience with angels and the holy family in Bethlehem, they told people what they saw and gave God glory! Let’s be like the Magi, who set out to learn more and offer gifts to the king!