Phil Cox


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Coxy's Christmas message 2012

The Magi find Jesus

5th January 2013

Matthew 2:1-11
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."
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: "‘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 worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.

Although lots of people have their own theories, we don't really know who the Magi were, where they came from, what they did to earn a living, or even how many of them there were. We do know:

  • They were from the east (so east of the Jordan, presumably - but how far east?)
  • They had money - they could afford to give gifts of gold... [frank]incense and... myrhh.
  • They saw significance in the stars that you or I would not see.

So how is it that the Magi found Jesus Christ? There were plenty of reasons why you might think they shouldn't! They probably weren't of Israelite descent. It seems they tried to use astrology as a theological tool. They went to the wrong place to find Jesus (having seen His star, they went to Jerusalem to enquire about Him). They knew so little about Jewish politics that they thought it would be a good idea to ask Herod for advice. The star had to reappear to them in Jerusalem and lead them from there to Bethlehem. And when they arrived there, they couldn't find the house. The star had to point out the exact house where Jesus was.

When you consider the geometry of this situation, you realise that it was no ordinary star. It must have been so low over the house that the Magi could tell from its position precisely which house Jesus was in. But astronomers tell us that the nearest star to Earth (except of course, the Sun) is 4.27 light years away! Some think the star may have been a comet, but comets don't stop and they, too, are much too high to allow an observer to identify a single house below (Halley's comet is sometimes suggested, but in addition to these problems with its height and velocity, it's believed to have been near earth in 12 B.C. and again 76 years later, which doesn't fit the chronology of Jesus's birth). Again some say it might have been a meteor, but you don't see meteors stopping above a house. Let's just admit that the star was miraculous.

God chose to produce a miraculous star, just for them. But why did God choose to give them all they needed to find the King of Kings? We know that God elects us according to His sovereign will, and not according to any merit in us, but we also know:

Matthew 6:7-8
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

The human part of the answer must surely be: because they really wanted to know Jesus! They searched the stars for signs about Jesus (not realizing that this was not the right way to do it). They travelled (presumably by camel) over what may have been a long distance. They went to a foreign country. They engaged with a ruthless king. They brought expensive gifts. They didn't care how long it would take, or how much it would cost, or how inconvenient or uncomfortable or dangerous the journey might be.

And they didn't just want a relationship with Jesus for what they could get out of it. When they found Him, they bowed down and worshipped him and they presented him with gifts - costly gifts, because of who He is - He's the Son of God.

And God promises that anyone who really wants to find God, will find Him - no matter how lost and ignorant we are when we begin our search. He will show us what we need to see. All He looks for in us is a passionate desire to know and worship Him.

The question for us, then, is a simple one: How much do we want to know God?