A Light Shining In The Darkness

A Light Shining In The Darkness

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A light shining in the darkness.

Isaiah 60:1-3

Matthew 2: 1-12

Wisdom in search of Jesus

The Magi Visit the Messiah

1. The light shining into the deepest darkness will show us the way forward.

1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem 

They came later to find the Jesus. Possibly when he was just less than two years old because we know that Joseph and Mary had to go to Egypt to flee from Herod. They are from the east – probably Persia and have a strong link to Daniel which I will tell you about a little later. They are directed to Jerusalem initially and not to Bethlehem to speak to Herod.

2. Who were the Magi ?

It is hugely profound that in the grand plan the Lord firstly directs simple shepherds to come to the birthplace of the saviour and now the wisest of them all the magi. He is able to connect with everyone. 

John Carson Lennox (born 7 November 1943) is a Northern Irish mathematician, bioethicist and Christian apologist. He has written many books on religion, ethics, the relationship between science and faith (like his books, Has Science Buried God and Can Science Explain Everything), and has had numerous public debates with atheists including Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.

He retired from professorship where he specialised in group theory. He is Emeritus Professor of Mathematics[2] at the University of Oxford and an Emeritus Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College, Oxford University. He is also an Associate Fellow of the Saïd Business School and a Senior Fellow at the Trinity Forum.

I find it quite incredible that we have in scripture a connection between Isaiah 60 and the magi(majie). We see it from this perspective but it’s much more profound when you begin to see it from the perspective of the heavenly realms.

What most of us know about the Magi (pronounced “Majie” – which means wise men and Magus is the singular) comes from popular traditions and Christmas carols, most of which are unsupported by the biblical text. 

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Matthew does not suggest that the Magi were kings. He does not say that they were three in number, nor is it likely that they were from the Orient.

Who then were these Magi, and where did they originate? The Greek word μάγος is used by Matthew and translated “Magi” by the NIV. It is the name given to great, powerful men, who were priests and wise men among the Medes, Persians, Zoroastrians and Babylonians.

The Magi  or “wise ones” were very important, powerful people of their day. The mention of their visit to Jerusalem was Matthew’s way of securing the testimony of top scientific authorities to authenticate the royal birth of Jesus.

They were powerful and wise and would have travelled in a large group together with a lot of protection.

Josephus ( a Jewish historian who wrote in the 1st century AD) records that Magi visited Herod. A visit by the Magi to pay homage to a newborn king would not have appeared unusual to the original readers of Matthew’s gospel.

3. Who is the One !!!

2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “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 shepherd my people Israel.’[b]” Micah 5:2

It would not, however, have gone unnoticed. In fact, verse 3 says that not only was Herod disturbed but “all Jerusalem with him.” The Magi were such important significant individuals they probably traveled with a very large entourage including soldiers, even a small army for protection. So it should not be surprising that Herod and the citizens of Jerusalem were troubled when they arrived.

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4. Herod has a secret meeting with the Magi

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.”

He is clearly not going to be worshipping Jesus but is now hugely concerned that another King who wise men have come to visit is in Bethlehem – the place of bread but also the city of David.

5. They went on their way and the star stopped over the place where the child was.

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. 

This is from a website called space.com which is the astrologers of the 2020’s go to place for knowledge of all things related to stars

Astronomer Michael Molnar suggested that a conjunction theory might be correct in his book “The Star of Bethlehem” (Rutgers University Press, 1999). If the “star” was the result of a conjunction (and this historical event did really happen), then there are a number of different alignments that could be the culprit.

Perhaps the most promising, and the one favored by Mathews, is an alignment of Jupiter, Saturn, the moon and the sun in the constellation of Aries on April 17, 6 B.C. This conjunction fits with the story for a few reasons. First, this conjunction happened in the early morning hours, which aligns with the Gospel’s description of the Star of Bethlehem as a rising morning star. The Magi also lost sight of the star, before seeing it come to rest in the place where baby Jesus lay in the stable. This could have been the result of the retrograde motion of Jupiter, which means that it appears to change direction in the night sky as Earth’s orbit overtakes it. 

6. verse11 On coming to the house,

 they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. 

It’s so proound to me that they worshipped him. It’s the same pattern all the time and to think that this is a baby. Something shifted in their hearts from curiosity to commitment and I can imagine that faithful Daniel was smiling and deeply moved as he watched from the heavenlies all of his hard work coming together. You may think that nothing is happening having been put in a iry furnace and in a lions den and wondering what it’s all about. Having 

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gone through so much stuff and inding it difficult to understand but staying faithful may be just for another generation to find Jesus – don’t give up !!!

Because Daniel was faithful in his work, God used him to bring the news of the birth of Christ to both his fellow Israelites and the some of the most powerful, knowledgeable, and influential Gentiles of the day.

In Jeremiah 29, we find part of Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles in Babylon:

…seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:7)

These exiles, including Daniel, had seen the destruction of their homeland, the death of their family members, and the demolishing of their holiest place of worship. It must have been hard to work for the good of a city that had destroyed his homeland, yet Daniel obeyed God’s call and became “chief of the Magi” and an advisor to the king.

In a way, we too are in “exile,” for we live in a fallen, sinful world and look forward to when Christ will return and restore it. But rather than sit passively, we are to actively engaged in the world because God calls us to “work for the peace and prosperity of the city” here and now.

In this Christmas season it is good to be reminded about the impact of our work. God calls us to be faithful in the here and now. Even though we can’t always see the impact of what we do, we have no idea how God will use it.

7. Meaning of the Gifts for Jesus

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.

When the Wise Men discovered Jesus and Mary, they would have been residing in a modest house in Bethlehem, because by this time Jesus would have been aged between one and two. Their gifts seem somewhat unusual to give to a baby, however, Christians consider that they had the following purposes and meaning:

Gold: is affiliated with Kings and Christians believe that Jesus is the King of Kings.

Frankincense: is used in liturgical worship in traditional Churches and represented that people would worship and praise Jesus.

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Myrrh: is a fragrance that is embedded on dead bodies to make them smell pleasant and represented that Jesus would endure persecution resulting in his death.

What do you need to adjust in your own Christmas story so that the story remains true to the original ?

Will we remain aithful to the call of the Lord like Daniel so that others will be able to find Jesus?

Who are we following wise people still seek the Messiah !

What gift will we lay at the feet of Jesus ?

A light is shining in the darkness !!!

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