“. . . magi came from the East to Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him.” Matthew 2:1b-2 (CEB)
There is so much about this passage that brings up questions for many of us:
Who were these magi (and what IS a “magi” anyway)?
What did they see in a stars?
How did they figure all this out?
Is this a real story or Matthew’s interpretation of a Savior for ALL the world?
Is it a segue to the slaughter of the innocents or the holy family’s escape to Egypt?
I’m sure there are plenty of answers, but it seems to me that we need to look beyond historical significance into the journey itself. Three (or maybe more since Matthew doesn’t really say how many) wise ones set out on a journey. They didn’t know what was in store for them, they only knew that there was something significant that motivated them to travel many miles to try to find a special king.
They stumbled into the paranoid King Herod which set up a series of events following their departure, but their intention was to find a king. Imagine their surprise when they found a humble home with a two year old child being held by a peasant girl and guarded by her carpenter husband. The scriptures don’t tell us what they thought and lead us to conclude that it didn’t matter.
The mission they had taken up was to find this “king child” and honor him. Were they changed when they set out for home? Did their lives take on a new meaning? Did God in Christ touch them so they were never the same again? We don’t know how their side of the story ends, but we know that their journey is a lot like ours.
From the moment we “meet” Jesus, we begin a journey. Sometimes we turn away and reject him as not real, not the “true” thing. Sometimes folks look elsewhere for their god. Others start on the journey and stay with it for a while, but then wander away. Some are on the journey, but they don’t know what they are looking for in the end.
Many have stayed on track, though. Many faithful folks have started and taken the journey to kneel in front of the Christ child and to follow him to the cross and beyond. That doesn’t mean that they haven’t taken detours along the way, but they have returned and continue to praise Jesus and try to live the kind of life that he taught and lived – to the best of their ability.
Maybe you know some of those saints who, although imperfect, were changed forever once they encountered Christ. I invite you to pause and think about them right now. (Pause) What have you learned from them? What example have they set? What of their qualities would you like to incorporate into your own life?
As we celebrate Epiphany – God breaking into our world in Jesus, the Christ, and, as we start a new year, how will we all keep on keeping on the journey with Christ in our hearts? It’s a new kind of way to make a New Year’s resolution! Happy New Year!