The Arrival of the Magi

The Epiphany | January 6, 2019

Isaiah 60:1-6 • Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14 • Ephesians 3:1-12 • Matthew 2:1-12

Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”

King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”

“In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:

‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah,
    are not least among the ruling cities of Judah,
for a ruler will come from you
    who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’”

Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”

After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.

Matthew 2:1-12 New Living Translation (NLT)


Epiphany means a revelation, an a-ha moment. This is what we look at today. Our church will be celebrating – along with other churches around the world, the arrival of the Magi. In researching my sermon for tomorrow, I found that the Feast of Epiphany was founded before Christmas. Much of what we celebrate at Christmas – as the church goes – was initially celebrated at Epiphany.

Epiphany celebrates the arrival of the Wise Men to Jesus. Whether they were wisemen (sages), kings, or magicians really remains a mystery. We often think there were three, but only because there were three gifts. The gifts represent:

  • Gold for Christ’s kingship
  • Frankensence to symbolize Christ’s priesthood
  • Myrrh to symbolize that Christ would die for our sins.

The arrival of the wisemen to Jesus reminds us that God’s plan for salvation is for the whole world – for Jews as well as Gentiles. These wisemen were magicians, scientists and mathematicians, astrologists and astronomers, and promient counselors in eastern countries. These “Gentiles” were not followers of God. Yet God used their knowledge and skill to draw them to baby Jesus, and in doing so, they had a personal awakening and packed their bags to travel many days to worship this newborn King.

God desires that we have an awakening as well. I encourage you to seek the Lord, just like the wisemen did.

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