January 6

Matthew 2:1-12

“In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’” vss. 1-2

Matthew’s little tale of the wise men from the East is a familiar part of most Sunday School Christmas pageants. Even though it has no scriptural connection with Luke’s story of shepherds and angels, no program would be complete until the wise men have made their appearance. Matthew probably intended it to represent the universal relevance of Jesus’ birth–he hadn’t just come for Jews, but for all people, and even Gentiles were drawn to honor his coming. Many Christians use the story as the gospel reading for the Day of Epiphany, January 6, when they celebrate Jesus as the Incarnation of God. During the liturgical season of Epiphany we are then drawn to recount the many times in his life when he revealed the divine light with his words and deeds. Naturally, there has been a ton of speculation about these magi and all kinds of assertions have been made about their identity. Of course there are no definitive answers to those questions–this isn’t likely a representation of an historical event. At best the wise men are a reminder that the coming of the Christ in Jesus has cosmic significance. Even the stars of the heavens point to his holy presence among us.

Thought for the Day: What gift did you bring to Jesus this Christmas?

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