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  • Writer's pictureJohn Lenschow

The Magi Worship

The Significance of His Birth

Day 22 Sunday, December 19th

Matthew 2:7-12

1. Recognize the Context:

Previous context:

Chapter 2 begins with the birth of Jesus, which took place during the reign of King Herod. Magi from the east came to Jerusalem looking for the one to be born King of the Jews. When King Herod heard the reason for the Magi's visit, he was disturbed and all of Jerusalem with him. So Herod conferred with his court about the Messianic prophecies, and they identified the location of the Messiah’s birth from the prophecy in Micah 5:2.

2. Read the Scripture: Matthew 2:7-12

7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” 9 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. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 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. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

3. Reflect on the Scripture:

Once Herod confirmed the location of the Messiah’s birth, he passed this information on to the Magi. He met with them secretly in order not to draw attention to the Magi's mission and his devious plan. He instructed the Magi to report to him once they found the child because he also desired to pay homage. While on their way to Bethlehem, they became aware of the star’s guiding presence again. This caused them great joy because it reaffirmed their initial mission, which began hundreds of miles away from their current location.

Although we traditionally see the nativity scene with the shepherds and the Magi, time had passed between the two visits. As previously mentioned, Luke placed the baby Jesus in the manger (Luke 2:6-7). Here in Matthew, the family was located in a house, indicating a place of permanent residence. Additionally, the word used to describe Jesus is "child" and suggests the age of an infant or toddler.

When the Magi saw Jesus, they “bowed down and worshiped him.” Their posture and response were only appropriate for rulers and deities. After expressing homage to the child, the Magi presented their gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Gold is a precious metal and was used in commerce. It was also used in jewelry and for the dining utensils of royalty. Frankincense is a gum resin from the Boswellia tree found in Arabia. It produces a sweet fragrance when burned. It was used as a perfume by many nations, but for Jews, it was part of the recipe for the incense burned in the temple. Myrrh is also a gum resin mixed with oil used as incense, perfume, or medicine. However, the Jews specifically used it in the burial process. Together, these gifts reflected the honor the Magi paid this Messianic King of the Jews.

In verse 12, we are told the Magi were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod as they intended to do. So, they returned home via an alternate route.

4. Relate to life:

Remember, it is important to be a doer of God’s Word, not merely a hearer or reader (James 1:22-25). Here are some practical ways to actively respond to God’s Word. Consider these or create other ways you can apply the message.

To pray:

In this passage, we see the convergence of several themes woven throughout the birth narratives found in Matthew and Luke, and they can't be overstated.

Today prayerfully reflect on one or more of the themes presented in this passage.

Some of these themes are:

The inclusion of Gentiles into God's story of salvation

A response to the Messiah which leads to praise and worship

The fulfillment of Old Testament Scriptures (Psalm 72:8-11, Isaiah 60:1-6)

God's sovereignty and humanity’s inability to hinder his redemptive plan.

Questions for reflection:

How are these themes still significant for our world today?

What difference can they make for the church today?

What impact do they have on your life today?

To do: (With the Holy Sprit's help)

Given the prayer suggestions and questions for reflection listed above, what can you incorporate into your life today? Think about your attitudes, actions, and words. Think about your family, friends, church community, co-workers.

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