Summary: What is an epiphany? Are epiphanies common or uncommon? Can we have an epiphany? Let’s examine the glorious and surprising manifestation of God’s power to the Magi, who took a long journey to Christ. Let’s look at Matthew 2:1-12.

What is an epiphany? Are epiphanies common or uncommon? Can we have an epiphany? Let’s examine the glorious and surprising manifestation of God’s power to the Magi, who took a long journey to Christ. Let’s look at Matthew 2:1-12.

The Magi

Matthew 2:1-2 “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.’”

According to Friberg [1] the Magi were wise men. Louw-Nida [2] adds that they studied the stars. Herodotus [3] called them Persian priests. Eastern traditional history [4] recounts that they were eventually baptized by Thomas. They were advisors to kings who were led to Christ through their knowledge of scriptures.

[1] Friberg, Timothy, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller. Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament. Baker's Greek New Testament Library. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000. BibleWorks, v.3 [2] Louw-Nida. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. United Bible Societies. 1989. [3] Herodotus 7.19, 7.37, 1.107, 1.108, 1.120, 1.128 [4] Brent Landau. Who were the Magi? 11/29/2011.

Matthew 2:3-4 “When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.”

The Magi came to worship Jesus. Herod felt threatened, and so plotted to kill Him. A leper, a synagogue leader, the disciples, a gentile woman and Zebedee’s wife also worshiped Jesus (Matthew 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 20:20; 28:9, 17). After all, Jesus was “God with us.”

The Prophecies

Matthew 2:5-6 “They said to him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; For out of you shall come forth a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

How interesting that the Bread of Life, should be born in the House of Bread, Bethlehem! The prophecy of Micah 5:2 was well-known. Matthew is here not quoting the scripture word for word, but perhaps the scribes’ rendering of the text. One description of Messiah is a shepherd ruler.

Matthew 2:7-8 “Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.’”

Ever since Constantine, the church has compromised with worldly power in fear of persecution. Power is threatened by the command to love our neighbor, feed the poor, and courageously welcome strangers. Fear of the powerful who profit from human misery, has watered down the Gospel. Christianity threatens power and greed.

The Gifts

Matthew 2:9-10 “After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”

This may have been a journey and an arrival that took place in the evening. The star seems to have appeared again to guide them. Unaware of local politics, they seem to have been naive to Herod’s schemes and it was necessary that they receive a warning in a dream.

Matthew 2:11-12 “After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.”

Gold was a royal gift. Frankincense, from Boswellia sap makes incense, perfume and anointing oil for priests (Exodus 30:32-34). Myrrh comes from Commiphora sap, was a bitter preservative to anoint the dead. The gifts may have been prophetic and symbolic of Christ as King, High Priest and suffering Savior.

Do we have an epiphany of God during church services or do we just see the physical? Is the journey too far for us to come and worship our Savior, or is church the most important event in our week? The day star rises every Sunday morning. Where are we?

New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

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