Engaged in the traditional celebration of Christmas, we may minimize the significance of the visit of the Magi to Bethlehem. In fact, the traditional date of Epiphany, January 6, often passes unnoticed in our churches. Yet it has implications for all people, even outside the Hebrew tradition and faith. For centuries the Jews have awaited the coming of their messiah. Yet the visit of the Magi reveals God’s intention to make known that this Child had come for all people, for all are created in God’s image. Our Creator’s continual desire is to be known and acknowledged by each of us.
The Gospel narrative of the coming of the Magi presents us with at least three considerations. First, having heard about and celebrated the coming of Jesus, the Messiah, we must continually seek him. Then, once having found Christ, we must acknowledge His divinity through our daily living. And finally, as we reflect on the gifts presented by the Magi, we can see their significance for Jesus and for us:
This is one metal that is universally considered precious. The gift of gold, representative of royalty, affirms that Jesus, the Son of God, is Lord and ruler of the people of the earth.
This fragrant resin was used by the priests in their ultimate offerings to the Most High. It was symbolic of the priesthood of Jesus and His life as the supreme offering on behalf of God’s people.
This balsam was of multiple uses—as an offering, as a component for consecration oil, or mixed with wine to strengthen and give courage to those condemned to die. The gift of myrrh signaled the consecration of Jesus as the atonement for our sins.
Like the Magi, having celebrated the birth of Jesus, reflected on the purpose of His life and mission, and experienced our personal encounter with Him, we cannot return to our previous lifestyle as the same persons on the same road. We return as changed persons, on a different road, to lead a new life.
Endowed with God with the wisdom to discern the difference between right and wrong, to discern what is acceptable and what is not, let us celebrate the Epiphany, God’s revelation of the Messiah not only to a chosen few but to each of us. We can celebrate Epiphany by:
- Praising God, acknowledging with Paul that in Christ there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, between slaves and free men, between men and women, but we are all one in Christ, and considering how this truth is to affect your daily acts.
- Praying throughout this new year that this confession of our faith may be confirmed in our daily living at home, in our nation, and in our relationships with other people.
- Faithfully working toward the day until God calls us home, and hopefully we’d hear Him say, “well done my good and faithful servant.”