210 years after the time of Daniel and the original magi, God, speaking through Isaiah the prophet, said the world’s darkness would get worse - "...behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples” but God went on to promise that “The Lord will arise upon you, and His Glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your Light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”
750 years after Isaiah, those nations God promised would flock to the Light God shined on Israel would be the Gentiles - even some Gentile magi– traveling miles to see Jesus.
Those magi from the east came following God’s star, as God had promised through Isaiah - “A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of The Lord."
When Jesus was born, somewhere well east of Bethlehem, there were some truly wise menwho looked to God for answers to life's most important questions. Behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He Who has been born King of the Judeans?
For we have seen His star in the east, and have come to worship Him."
These wise men were not of Israel's chosen race - but Gentiles like us. They may have studied Daniel’s prophecies and known this star's message but how the star led them to Jerusalem must be left to the Wisdom of God. Maybe they read Through the Gospel writer Matthew, God simply tells us that at an unspecified time after Christ's birth an unnumbered party of magi visited Jesus in a house ("????a?"). He was no longer in the cave stable.
To those wise men from the east God sent The Light of God's most precious star -- a star that sent them to Jerusalem and on to Bethlehem to behold the true Light of the world.
We see how prayerfully the wise men approached God’s Word and how God enabled them to understand it for when they had come into the house, they saw The Young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. There was absolutely no doubt in their minds that this was The Son of God Who had come to bring eternal Salvation and true Enlightenment to all who believe in Him.
And when they opened their treasures, they presented gifts to
Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Gold was the gift for The King. The wise men, by The Grace of God, knew The King of kings when they saw Him. Remember, shortly before they entered the house where Jesus was now staying in Bethlehem, the wise men visited King Herod -- they offered that king no gift of gold -- Gold they saved for the true King of kings.
Frankincense was a gift for God — a resin used in incense when worshipping God. The wise men, by the Grace of God, recognized the human Child Jesus as truly God — knew God had come among us as
The vulnerable flesh and blood Christ to live among us and give His life for our Salvation. They worshiped Him and gave Him frankincense.
Myrrh was used in funeral preparation and was the sorrowful gift which showed, that, as God had done with Simeon the Judean prophet in the Temple (LUKE 2:34-35), God revealed to these Gentile wise men the price God had come to pay for our eternal Salvation.
There are those today - even some in leadership positions in Christ's Church - who believe the way to deal with human sin is to relativize all human behavior so sin becomes virtue and virtue becomes impractical so nobody need feel any guilt or responsibility. God chose to deal with human sin and death on the cross so the wise men gave Him myrrh.
Gold, frankincense, and myrrh — the gifts themselves reveal how fully God revealed The Gospel to Gentile wise men-- and how far they were willing to go on a journey that may have taken them as many as two years to experience The Good News for themselves.
WISE MEN STILL SEEK JESUS. That is why there are 12 days of Christmas in Christ’s Church – not just one – and why the next day – January 6th - The Epiphany of our Lord – is such an essential and important day in the Church Year calendar.
By the Grace of God, we know our Savior. For we have seen His Salvation so dearly purchased for us by God as The vulnerable flesh and blood Christ suffering and dying for us on the cross – and we too have come to worship Him. All people made spiritually wise by God still seek Him - and, by the Grace of God, find Him.
THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH PASSES ALL HUMAN UNDERSTANDING KEEP YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR MINDS IN CHRIST JESUS … THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD … OUR LORD AND OUR SAVIOUR. AMEN.
THE EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD
January 7, 2017 – actually January 6th lectionary
Dr. Kurt Borows
Pastor, Resurrection Lutheran Church, Catawba Island, Port Clinton, Ohio