December 17: Read Matthew 2:1-12; Isaiah 60:3-9; Psalm 72:10-11 NIV

The Gospel of Matthew tells us that the Magi “come from the East,” following a star to bring gifts to the Messiah. But who are these Magi, and why do they want to see the Jewish Messiah?

Magi or Wise Men is a vague term our author uses because there is little to be known about these men. Magi in Greek means “one of a learned and priestly class,” but that doesn’t tell us if it was a Jewish priestly class or another god’s priests. They most likely were some type of astrologists of the time who studied stars, which was believed to give information about gods. The exact location they traveled from is also unknown, which means we aren’t sure of their ethnicity either. Persia is the most likely guess. Some also believe instead of astrologers, they were kings of a certain area. This could be a valid argument, as it was a custom of the time for kings to send or bring gifts to new kings.

Did you know that many bible scholars also believe there were between 2 and 12 magi instead of the 3 we typically think of? We count based on the gifts they brought.

The truth is that the Magi are another mystery in our story. What we can surmise is that they studied stars and could tell when a new star appeared in the sky. That star signaled to them that a new king had come. So they gathered gifts and journeyed by following the star to find Mary and Joseph with Jesus- the new King of the Jews. 

Scripture tells us they were “overjoyed” when they arrived and they “bowed” down and worshiped Jesus. These men who were not Jewish, not part of the promised people, recognized the new king and gave him honor with gifts and worship. So many unexpected people were the first ones to worship the Messiah. It wasn’t the Jewish leaders, the teachers of the law, the richest of the people of God, or the most influential. The first to recognize and worship our messiah were animals in a stable, shepherds in the field, and magi from distant lands.

Jesus came to unite a world that was fractured. He came to show us the depth of love the Lord has for us. He came to sacrifice his own life for our sins so we can draw near to the Lord. This is the message he came to spread and asks us to participate in as his followers.

Prayer: Lord, help me to see your people today. Help me to worship you with abandon so others may know you, especially during this season of Advent.

Reflection Questions

The Magi were told to go and search diligently for Jesus, by Herod. When the Magi found Jesus, they fell down and worshiped Him.

When you see the works of Jesus, how do you respond?

Are you seeking Him in your daily life?

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