“When [the wise men] saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:10-11
Tuesday, January 6 is the beginning of the season of Epiphany in the Church year. It’s during this season that we hear about all of the ways that Jesus revealed Himself to be God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God. It’s not particularly difficult to believe that God could become man—after all, He’s God, so He can do anything He wants. It’s a completely different thing to believe that this man, this Jesus, this child sitting on His mother’s lap is God. And yet, here we see the Gentile wise men, from a far-away land, falling down and worshiping Him, this God-in-human-flesh.
The Gentile wise men, although they didn’t have the advantage of being Hebrews and hearing the Word of God all the time, had heard the prophecies. At some point in history, the pages of the Old Testament had found their way to the homeland of these wise men and they had read them. The Word of God had taught them that there would be a Savior, not just for the Hebrews, but also for Jew and Gentile alike. The wise men trusted the words of these prophecies, waiting for the time when the Messiah would arrive.
The surest sign for the wise men, aside from the words of Scripture, was the star proclaiming Jesus’ birth. They knew that this must proclaim something unique and wonderful. After the fall into sin, heaven and earth were dragged into mankind’s rebellion against God. Men worshiped the stars and the sun and moon. Gold was fashioned into idols. Incense and myrrh weren’t only used in God’s holy temple, but also by pagans who worshiped false gods and mortal kings. But now, with the arrival of the Savior, with the appearing of the star announcing His birth, heaven and earth are restored. The wise men don’t worship the Christmas star, as their ancestors would have; rather, the star points them to Jesus. They don’t use gold to make an idol or burn incense and myrrh in front of false gods; rather, they present these treasures of the earth to the Savior. These treasures have been made new, set aside for good and holy purposes. They have been redeemed and are now instruments to point people, both Jew and Gentile, to the Messiah.
Epiphany is important because it shows us that this man, Jesus, is God in flesh, God walking among us. As God, He restores heaven and earth. He redeems them from mankind’s sinful rebellion. He sets them apart for His good purposes: to be used by us to care for us and to always point us to Him. Amen.
O God, by the leading of a star You made Your only-begotten Son known to the Gentiles. Lead us, who know You by faith, to enjoy the fullness of Your divine presence in heaven. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.