Summary: The Magi were humbled by the state of reverence that they felt for the Christ Child. That, my friends, is the appropriate motivation for worship in our church services today. We need to put away our pride and worldly baggage and worship Christ sincerely.
Well, the 12 days of Christmas are over for another season. All of the decorations are down and put away for another year, and the presents have been opened. The craziness of the Christmas season is over for the secular world, but here in the church, we have some more of the Christmas story to tell.
This morning we have heard the Gospel story of the Three Wise Men. It seems to be an odd story, and it only appears in Matthew's Gospel. Have you ever wondered why he chose to include it? Well I have, and the only conclusion I have come to is that the oddness of Matthew's own life made him include the story of the three wise men. Matthew was the tax collector turned disciple. Paying taxes today is NOTHING like it was in Jesus' time. First, you paid your regular taxes to the Emperor...OR ELSE! Then you had to pay "the special tax" to the tax collector...or risk getting beat up.
We might not be bullies or thugs or tax cheats...but we all have our own strange stories. Some of us have been lifelong, faithful church members, and some of us are new members. Some of us were born and raised in the church, but lost our way for a time and found our way back to the church. In any event, SOMETHING drew us to the church. Those of us who, like the Magi, live the greatest distance from the areas of God's grace often use the most diligence and learn the most from Christ and His salvation. Matthew certainly did...and we all know what the result was. Matthew, like the rest of us, was not directed to Christ by learning. He, like us, attended to the word of God like a light that shines in a dark place. There is an old adage that it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. Those who live in darkness and under bondage and later receive the light and Spirit of adoption into God's grace receive great joy, especially when they witness with their spirit that they are children of God.
The Magi reflect the aspirations of Israel that one day the wise and powerful would come to Zion and acknowledge Yahweh. The story's message is that the best of the world's wisdom acknowledges the Christ. It also reflects a generous prophecy that the nations of the world would come together in peace-a prophecy that is still unfulfilled today. Another prophecy that is referred to by this story is the domination or destruction of the Gentiles and Israeli domination of the world. This prophecy has consequences ranging from anti-Semitism to the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The most important prophecy of this story, however, is the message that Jesus' ministry is one of inclusiveness.
The Holy Family's flight into Egypt to escape Herod's wrath and subsequent return parallels Israel's exile into Egypt and return under Moses' leadership. Herod was jealous of the prospect of another king. HE did not want to fall down and worship Christ; however, we MUST fall down and worship Christ as our King, as our God lives. The Magi wanted to protect the baby Jesus, but understood that the best thing they could do was to draw Satan's tool-Herod-away from the Christ Child.