THE MYSTERIOUS MAGI
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him. -Matthew 2:1-2
God orchestrated two diverse groups of visitors, or rather worshippers, to herald His Son’s birth: one near and announced by angels, and one from afar and announced by a peculiar star. Poor shepherds, watching sheep in the countryside that were to become sacrifices to the coming Messiah in the Temple in Jerusalem, were at Jesus’ birth. Wise counselors to kings of the east, among a group called Magi, did not arrive until Jesus was not quite two years old because they had to travel a great distance to get there. One group was of Jewish religion and race; the other represented Gentiles. According to the Bible, the whole world was either Jew or Gentile then.
These Magi were students of the stars, astronomers, or some might say astrologers. Knowing Daniel, who was a leader of the Magi while exiled in Persia, I rather think that these were scholars and researchers who were called on by kings for their advice. Though not of Persia, Herod recognized their calling and also sought their advice, though he did so under devious intentions.
These Magi, apparently worshippers of the true God, could very well have been led to salvation by Daniel and his friends (remember Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?) through their forebears. After all, the Scriptures say, “For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments (Exodus 20:5-6). Daniel’s testimony impacted Magi spiritually, which could also impact generations of Magi and others down to the time of Jesus’ birth, many generations removed from Daniel.
In any case, these particular Magi became aware of a birth when a certain star, perceived to be connected to a prophesied King of the Jews, arose in their night sky. How could they know this except by the writings of some of the Prophets and the guidance of the Holy Spirit?
A “group of possibly three or more, representing believing Magi, started off on a long journey to Jerusalem seeking to worship this Child who was born “King of the Jews. His birth was marked by the rising of this star, just as Herod chose to murder all the infant Jewish boys of Bethlehem and its surroundings based on the Magi’s calculated timing concerning the star’s first appearance; hence Herod’s arrival at a margin of two years old and below.
These Magi were assisted by an angelic dream in preserving the baby King’s life by directing their journey home with another route, avoiding Jerusalem and Herod’s clutches. The gifts of the Magi reported by Mary through Matthew most likely sustained the escape to and sojourn in Egypt of the Holy Family. It is the manner in which God the Father has chosen to work within His world, always keeping one step ahead of Satan’s evil intentions.
These stories of history recorded by Luke and Matthew are known throughout the world, cherished by millions, celebrated with decorations, sung in carols, meditated on in quiet, and are the theme of countless worship services. The observance of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany repeating the wondrous story points to our Savior, warms spiritual hearts, and focuses the minds of believers on the majesty of the Gospel! Thus, we are one more Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany closer to the return of our King!
“Sages, leave your contemplations; brighter visions beam afar. Seek the great Desire of nations; ye have seen His natal star. Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn King.
(Third verse of James Montgomery’s carol, “Angels from the Realms of Glory, 1816)