January 30: Wisdom of the Magi

Read Matthew 2

If you like a good story or movie, you like the account of Jesus’ birth and early childhood. It reads like an action thriller! There were overwhelming odds, deception, death, fleeing and redirects.

Rather than coming with the pomp and exaltation due a king, Jesus’ entry was full of close encounters. Though a stable was unassuming, and Bethlehem a blip on the map, Jesus’ birth certainly did not go unnoticed. God’s plan for setting His creation free — His One and Only Son — was on Satan’s radar. Herod was a tool used in an evil scheme to nip in the bud the God-child.

Unlikely others were used in just the opposite way. The Magi, who were neither Jews nor from the region of Jesus’ birth, recognized the event as positive. “The King of the Jews” was born!

That is the name by which the Magi sought Him. Interestingly, Matthew’s gospel also records the charge against Jesus that led to His death; the sign hung above Jesus’ head on the cross: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” The name evokes praise from one and cursing from another. The Magi even stated that Jesus had His own star that had alerted them! (See v. 2.) Clearly, they were “wise guys” who were aware enough to see that even the sky was announcing His arrival. The Magi avoided Herod, allowing Jesus’ safe escape to Egypt (though many baby boys were needlessly slaughtered to satisfy sick Herod’s fears.)

The Magi were smart and savvy, but they were also spiritual. Their coming proved that others — not just Jesus Himself — recognized this kingship and birth. The non-Jewish Magi recognized it too! They were probably not looking for Messiah as the Jews were. This signifies for us that Jesus came for all —Jew and Gentile. They came to worship the Christ child. (See v. 2.)

Jesus had not performed any miracle or salvation act on behalf of the Magi or anyone else, yet they worshipped Him. This brings us to the real “magic” of the Magi. Are we waiting for Jesus to do something specific we’ve been asking of Him? A promotion at work? Simply some recognition? An easier marriage? Relief from a physical ailment? Are we willing to come worship before Jesus even though we might not have that action or answer yet?

The Savior, who came as a babe with a crazy birth announcement, deserves worship just because HE IS. Despite what He does or does not do on our human timetables, HE IS. May the “Magi” of Christmas stick with us all year as we purpose to worship our Savior!

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