When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” Matthew 2:1-2 NABRE
Matthew tells the story of magi coming to see the birth of Jesus. The word magi originally described members of the Median or Persian priestly caste who advised the king and interpreted dreams. The term later more broadly became known as those who possessed mystical knowledge as priests, astrologers, or sages. Today’s popular association with kings may be based on scriptural passages that recount kings bringing gifts to the royal Davidic son (see Psalms 72:10-11), including gifts of gold and frankincense (see Isaiah 60:3-6.) In Jewish tradition magi would be associated with enchanters and sorcerers and interpreters of dreams and signs and they would be rejected by the Jews. Thus, it is difficult to imagine the magi from the east to be among the first to pay homage to the Jewish messiah. It is common in Matthew; Israel’s king is welcomed by those least expected and Jewish leaders work against Him. A star signaling the birth of a great person was popular in the ancient world. There are several explanations of the star, including a planetary conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn as we have witnessed recently (December 21, 2020). Whatever explains the star we read the magi using it as a guide to meet and honor the new king. These magi are even the first to announce this new king to King Herod and other leaders in Jerusalem. They pay homage and return home, becoming an important narrative of Jesus’ birth.
If those who were expecting the messiah accepted Him as the magi have, the world today might be a more loving, caring place.
What would have you travel to meet Jesus? What gift would you bring?The magi are the first to announce this new king to King Herod and other leaders in Jerusalem. They pay homage and return home, becoming an important narrative of Jesus' birth. Click To Tweet
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