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The king for all nations

December 31, 2021

Daily Scripture

Matthew 2:7-12

7 Then Herod secretly called for the magi and found out from them the time when the star had first appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you’ve found him, report to me so that I too may go and honor him.” 9 When they heard the king, they went; and look, the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stood over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy. 11 They entered the house and saw the child with Mary his mother. Falling to their knees, they honored him. Then they opened their treasure chests and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 Because they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back to their own country by another route.

Did You Know?

Matthew never said there were “three” magi. That tradition didn’t begin until about 600 years later, based on the three gifts presented to Jesus. Jerusalem was a crossroads city, used to foreign visitors. So the magi may have had quite a large entourage with them to cause a stir in the city and attract Herod’s attention.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Herod’s amoral paranoia had led him to kill even family members to defend his hold on the throne. He hid his real intentions about the new king behind courteous, even religious-sounding, words. But the magi were honest seekers, and when they saw the star that had led them on their journey, they “were filled with joy.” Matthew said the magi “entered the house,” not the stable, another hint from the text that some time had passed since Jesus’ birth in an animal shelter.

  • We’re used to this story, so we may miss the unexpected note. Matthew said the wealthy visitors who’d been at Herod’s court “saw the child with Mary his mother [a young, poor peasant]. Falling to their knees, they honored him.” Since Matthew didn’t explain, what do you think might have led these foreign priests to see this infant as a king worthy of their honor? Do external cues or inward qualities impress you most? What traits of God most create a sense of worshipful joy in you?
  • Bethlehem was only five miles south of Jerusalem, and fearful king Herod would have kept a close eye on the main travel routes. It probably took real effort and planning for the magi to find “another route” that Herod wasn’t watching. When in your life have you needed to switch to a physical or emotional “road less traveled,” facing some level of hardship in order to be true to your values and God’s direction in your life?

Lord Jesus, the magi honored you with their gifts and when they followed the divine warning in a dream to avoid Herod’s trap. Help me to honor you by acts of worship, and by avoiding choices you warn me are foolish. Amen.

GPS Insights

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Lauren Cook

Lauren Cook is the Entry Points Program Director at Resurrection, a self-proclaimed foodie, a bookworm, and is always planning her next trip. She has the sweetest (and sassiest) daughter, Carolina Rae, a rockstar husband, Austin, and a cutie pup named Thunder. She loves connecting with others so let her know the best place you've ever eaten, best book you've ever read, or best place you've ever been!

The other day I saw a post from a friend that said, “No one claim 2022 as ‘your year.’ We are all going to walk in really slowly, be good, be quiet, be cautious and respectful, and don’t touch anything.” As we approach the final hours of 2021 today, I can’t help but wonder if that mentality might just be true. Starting tomorrow, we will all be bombarded with diet ads, fitness trends, clothing sales, and a bunch of other things geared towards bettering our external selves. And I already KNOW you’ve got that list of ways you’re just going to kill it this next year. Drink more water on anyone’s list? Get up earlier? Eat quinoa? I see you.

New Year’s resolutions are positive things, don’t get me wrong. No one is out here trying to resolve to get less healthy or get worse at their job (if you are, let’s chat). However, every single year I see so many people making a long list of really awesome resolutions that require a lot of them, and usually? They’ve fizzled out by January 31st. So here is my proposition for us all. Let’s go into 2022 slowly, focusing on being present where we are. Let’s resolve to do good. Let’s be quiet and find God in all the little moments. Let’s be cautious with each other’s feelings and respectful of each other’s boundaries. Let’s not touch anything (lol germs, or even worse, THE virus).

As we read in today’s Scripture, the Magi honored Jesus, who at the time was a baby with a mother who was a young, poor peasant. The Magi understood the inward qualities of both Mary and Jesus that made them worthy of such praise, and they did not focus on the external cues that may have swayed them. They listened to God, who spoke words of wisdom into their hearts to find the Savior, know him, and keep him safe. They understood what mattered.

Depending on what time you’re reading this, you’ve got a few hours left to think about how you want to approach this new year. I pray that whatever you decide to focus on this year, you resolve to know and love God and know and love those around you. We have learned by now that we cannot anticipate a thing that will happen in 2022, but what can we always rely on? Emmanuel, God with us.

Let’s do it, together.

See you next year, my friends!

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.