Now Starring in BethlehemBlog / Produced by The High Calling
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."Matthew 2:1-2
Magi cameled into Jerusalem “looking good” even though they traveled desert roads from far off Persia. These were not scruffy nomads trailing herds of goats to the rhythm of banging campfire utensils. These aliens from the East were wise men because, Matthew wrote, they were “magoi” or magi: astrologists. Magi were afforded a prominent place in Persian society due to their study of the law or movements of the stars. They dressed fashionably, cruised in the latest camel technology, and brought socially approved gifts for a newborn: gifts one might find on the Early East equivalent of Register4Baby.com.
Ironically, we find expert astrologists hovering over a newborn Jesus and offering gifts. No magi on the invitation lists for Israelite shindigs, barmitzsvahs, or debutante balls, let alone “The Baby Finally Came” mimosa-toasting gatherings at the country club. The scribes and Pharisees considered astrology worshiping the creation more than the Creator.
We do not blink an eye today to see countless sundry magi occupying “made in China” plastic crèche scenes in homes and shops at Christmas time: a scene that would have shocked and disturbed first century Israelites. One does not expect to find pagan astrologists at the birth of the Jewish Messiah of God (let alone crusty shepherds, but that’s another Bible study). One expects royalty and proper religious leaders. Yet consistent with this outrageous God who acts with a flair for tomfoolery and holy mischief, the crowd at the Messiah’s Delivery Room stable included those who would later be invited into the Kingdom of God by way of faith in Jesus: strangers to the covenant whose access to God is by way of the cross.
Much has been written about the Magi’s gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But so often the real gift they brought is missed. These Eastern socialites could have sent servants teetering under a mountain of gifts in their arms, or they could have ordered a Levite to deliver a “So Glad You Are Born, Mr. Messiah” sing-a-gram.
But they brought themselves to worship the newborn King. Their real gift was their personal homage: pagan, foreign leaders bowing down and worshiping an infant Messiah.
The best gift we bring to God each day is not the isolated good deed or check to fulfill a church pledge. The most precious and enduring gift is the offering of our daily lives punctuated with moment-to-moment homage, paid through devotion weaved in and out of our work and play.
They came themselves to offer the gift of their worship. Have you yet arrived?