The Magi Believed Matthew 2:1-12 Sun Dec 11, 2011 The third Sunday of Advent
Believe Review: • “The righteous will live by faith” (Rom 1:17) • Mary , Joseph, the shepherds believed • They acted on their beliefs • Joseph married Mary • Shepherds found the baby, spread the news • Joseph & Mary named the baby Jesus • Today: the Magi
The Magi • Don’t know a lot about the Magi • Magi can mean: • Persian priestly class • Possessors of supernatural knowledge or power • Magician • Deceiver or seducer • New Testament meaning is #2 • “wise men”
The Magi • Matthew 2 tells us: • “from the east” v1 • Likely knew about the Jewish religion • “saw his star when it rose” v2b • Supports the idea that they were “wise men” / astrologers A side note: • God revealed himself in the stars • The Magi knew and understood the stars • God reached into their personal areas of wisdom
The Magi • Because we don’t know much, we “Disney-ify” • Make it neat, tidy, pretty • Recall: • Remember: It was real life! • Real thoughts, feelings, experiences
The Journey of the Magiby T. S. Eliot 'A cold coming we had of it, Just the worst time of the year For a journey, and such a long journey: The ways deep and the weather sharp, The very dead of winter.‘ And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory, Lying down in the melting snow. There were times we regretted The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces, And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling And running away, and wanting their liquor and women, And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters, And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly And the villages dirty and charging high prices: A hard time we had of it. At the end we preferred to travel all night, Sleeping in snatches, With the voices singing in our ears, saying That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley, Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation; With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness, And three trees on the low sky, And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow. Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel, Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver, And feet kicking the empty wine-skins. But there was no information, and so we continued And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.
All this was a long time ago, I remember, And I would do it again, but set down This set down This: were we led all that way for Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death, But had thought they were different; this Birth was Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death. We returned to our places, these Kingdoms, But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation, With an alien people clutching their gods. I should be glad of another death.
The Journey The journey was long & hard: • Travelled for a long time • Camels were tired, sore, impossible to manage • Dreamed of home, women, good food • Camel men (servants) were resentful • Cities and towns inhospitable • Travelled through the night The mental journey was long and hard: • Doubt, folly, fear
The Journey Hope arose! • Climate changed • Came to a tavern • Inquired about the baby • Hoped they were in the right place • Longed to rest • “But there was no information” • Eventually, they arrive just as the child is born • Eliot says they are satisfied
The Journey Biblical text tells us more than poem: • Magi met with King Herod • Learned Bethlehem was their destination • “when they saw the star, they were overjoyed” v10 • “they bowed down and worshipped” v11b • Their faith brought them to this place • They responded withworship! • Gave gifts of gold, frankincense & myrrh
The Journey of the Magi • Finally, they returned home by another way • Physically / geographically & spiritually • T. S. Eliot seems to agree • Magi were impacted by their experience • Same is true for each of us • My journey to Regent College & Vancouver
The Journey of the Magi • The Magi were changed by the journey • No longer at ease • No longer felt ‘at home’ • Saw their own people as aliens • Saw their old gods as false idols • Changed their identity, self-understanding… everything! • Including understanding of birth & death
The Journey of the Magi Birth & Death • Encounter with Jesus is life changing • Leads to ‘death’ of old way of life • Eph 4:21-22 “when you heard about Christ… You were taught… to put off your old self… be made new in the attitude of your minds… put on the new self…” • The Magi’s old way of life died when they encountered the Birth of Christ
The Journey of the Magi • “I should be glad of another death” (Eliot) • Not morbid • Phil 1:21 “For me, to live is Christ, to die is gain.” • Physical death for believers is new birth! • Into heaven This is the hope of the Christmas season!