After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Matthew 2: 9 – 12
There’s a lot we don’t know about these travellers from the east; the Wise Men, Magi, Kings. They would have been people of significance (to have gained an audience with Herod) and there almost certainly weren’t three of them; they would have had a retinue with them – servant, guards, etc. They were likely from what is now Iraq, and could have been Zoroastrians. There’s a lot of speculation – some of it very well informed, some – not so much. But there are some things we do know.
They watched for, and were alert to, signs of God’s hand at work. The star they followed wasn’t a magic star that was invisible to everyone but them. It would have been visible in the night sky to anyone who looked up, but they were expecting to see signs of great things.
Their faith led to action. They left their familiar surroundings and went on a pilgrimage to find this thing that God was doing. A pilgrimage is different from an ordinary journey in several ways. It requires that you leave the place where you belong, where you’re comfortable. It has a particular destination or goal. It leads to an encounter with God and personal transformation. At the end of it, you return to where you came from, but changed by the experience.
They were prophets: the gifts they brought were foretastes of what was ahead of the little one they worshipped: gold for the King of Kings, frankincense for our High Priest, and Myrrh to anoint the dead for burial.
They were worshippers: They didn’t give advice, they didn’t curry favour, they didn’t wait until Jesus was old enough to recognise them and repay their devotion – they simply worshipped.
At the beginning of this year,
- are we alert and looking for the signs of what God is doing?
- are we prepared to move out of our comfort zone?
- are we prepared to follow Jesus, wherever that road might take us?
- will we devote ourselves to worship?
Prayer: Lord God, help us today to see what you need us to, to understand what is required of us, and to have the courage to journey with you, wherever that may take us, and however that may change us.
Action: What gifts will you offer to Christ today?