Christmas is not over. Not yet, anyway. This Sunday is Ephiphany, the day we celebrate the 3 Magi, or wise men, or kings, who came to Bethlehem because they heard the king of the Jews had been born. The Magi are rather central to the story, because they’ve made such an impression on commercialized Christmas. They appear on Christmas cards, there are songs about them, we’ve named them… It should be noted that in our text it never says that there were 3 Magi, we just assume that because they have gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and somewhere in our Christian tradition, we really wanted each person to have a gift of their very own to give Jesus. It should also be noted that in our text it was never stated that these men were kings, we assume this from Psalm 72:11, where it says “May all kings bow down before him.” Some Christian traditions say there were 12 Magi.
Our nativity scenes are quite inaccurate, as the adoration of the shepherds, the Magi, the animals, and the stable all sort of happen together in what comes across as a rather crazy scene of rather busy looking barnyard. Our text mentions a house specifically when referring to the Magi’s visit, it also never gives us a timetable of the visit. It’s very likely the Magi’s visit happened up to 2 years later, because when Herod catches wind of what happened in Bethlehem, he orders that all male children 2 years and younger be killed, hoping to exterminate the boy that would surely lead to a Jewish uprising.
- Matthew 2:1 - 12