What Would You Bring?
I pray that you all had a wonderful Christmas.
The frigid cold is still with us. I would ask that you please keep the homeless in your prayers.
I would like to share with you a passage of scripture and a few thoughts. Then, I want to ask you a question. This passage is well known, I would guess that, to a certain degree, all of us know this story. It is about the visit of the Magi, Matthew 2:1-12. Let’s begin with verses 1 and 2,
“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”’
Who are these guys, these Magi?
Well, the word originates from the Greek word mangos meaning “one of a learned and priestly class”. The Persian word of equal meaning was magush meaning magician. Whoever they are, these Magi are considered as wise men, those who give counsel to kings.
The Roman catacombs are full of paintings of the Magi, these would be Roman Christian paintings, meaning Gentiles’ paintings. Guess what? Of nearly 100 different paintings, they cannot agree on the number of Magi. The paintings show as few as 2 and as many as 8. The Bible does not tell us how many.
Though these paintings were of Gentile origin, they knew their Old Testament. Here are a few Old Testament scriptures that foretell this visit of the Magi. These were next to the paintings found underneath Rome. Isaiah 60:3 and 6,
“Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah, And all from Sheba (Ethiopia) will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.”
A very accurate prophecy considering Isaiah spoke this around 700 years before Christ’s birth. Let’s go to Psalm 72:10-11, this Psalm is believed to be composed up to 1000 years before the birth of Christ.
“The kings of Tarshish and of distant shores will bring tribute to him, the kings of Sheba and Seba (Yemen) will present him gifts. All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him.”
The east in Jesus’ time would have been Media, Persia, Assyria, and Babylonia. All countries are now in the areas which we call Iran and Iraq. If Magi came from all these different countries, it’s easy to see how it very well could have been more than the three Magi that the modern-day hymns sing about. Matthew 2:3-12,
“When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. ‘In Bethlehem in Judea’, they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written’ (in Micah 5:2):
‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.’
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east 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 and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.”
You cannot read this passage and not be impressed with these Magi fellows. They were smart. They were educated and intelligent.
They were wise men. We know this from their actions:
Obviously, they read and believed God’s Word
Obviously, they sought Jesus
Obviously, they recognized the worthiness of Christ
Obviously, they humbled themselves in worship to Jesus
And finally, obviously, they obeyed God instead of man
If only today we would do these five things on a regular basis.
Read and believe God’s Word. Seek Jesus with all our hearts, realizing that Christ is our greatest gift. Worshiping God humbly, obeying God instead of listening to the world.
I told you that I would ask you a question. Imagine this Christmas, instead of being surrounded by family opening presents like you normally do, you do something different.
Instead, this year, you and your family are spending Christmas with Jesus, in person, up close and personal. What would YOU bring to Jesus? What would be your personal gift to Christ? Should we not view each Christmas this way?
Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.
and Harmony UMC