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The story after Christmas Eve

December 29, 2022

Daily Scripture

Matthew 2:1-12

1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the rule of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem. 2 They asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him.”
3 When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, and everyone in Jerusalem was troubled with him. 4 He gathered all the chief priests and the legal experts and asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They said, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what the prophet wrote:
You, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
by no means are you least among the rulers of Judah,
because from you will come one who governs,
who will shepherd my people Israel” [Micah 5:2-4, 2 Samuel 5:2].
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 how many magi came to worship Jesus. The tradition that there were three 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. The magi may have had quite a large entourage with them to attract Herod’s attention by causing a stir in the city.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

We read Matthew 2 with the Christmas story, but its events came later. Matthew said the magoi (a word which usually identified students of the stars) “entered the house,” not the stable, a sign that some time had passed since Jesus’ birth in an animal shelter. These visitors, likely from modern Iran, arrived an unspecified amount of time “after Jesus was born in Bethlehem.” No one would have expected non-Hebrews to travel far to see, much less to worship, even a “king of the Jews.”

  • We’re used to this story, so we may miss the surprising 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?
  • In Ezekiel 34:1-16, as well as in Micah 5:4, God promised that he would shepherd his people. Jesus, grown up, said he was the promised “good shepherd,” offering those who follow him “life to the fullest” (John 10:1-15). In what ways do ads for everything from cars to computers, alcoholic beverages to hair-care products, hold out that promise? How easy or hard do you find it to trust that Jesus truly offers you the fullest, most satisfying life in your everyday “real world”?

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

GPS Insights

Picture of  Mikiala Tennie

Mikiala Tennie

Mikiala Tennie serves as the Marketing and Communications Specialist in Resurrection's ShareChurch ministry.

It hasn’t really felt like Christmas to me this year. I managed to put a few decorations on my cute little tree; I’ve watched a handful predictable movie plots that were created to evoke the Christmas feeling, but overall, it fell flat. It didn’t help that my travel plans to get home this week succumbed to the great Southwest fiasco. It’s been a bit difficult to be merry and bright.

The older and farther away I get from the fun traditions of Christmases gone by, the more lackluster this season can sometimes feel.

When I was a kid one of our biggest and most beloved family traditions was participating in the Christmas pageant my church put on. I know, you’re picturing bathrobe shepherds and cotton ball sheep…but I promise, this one was different. 1300 church members volunteered from August through December to put on 19 two and a half hour Broadway-style performances. It was recorded annually, and DVDs were sold after it was broadcast on network and cable TV. It was so much fun because we all worked together to share the Gospel through the arts. In the first act there was singing, swing dancing, waltzing, and indoor fireworks. The second act told the story of the life of Christ from birth through resurrection in drama and song, complete with horses for the Roman soldiers, goats and sheep for the shepherds, and camels for the three kings/wisemen/magi.

Growing up, one of my favorite roles to play in the show was as a part of the three kings’ entourage. These roles were given to high school students, so it’s something I’d looked forward to for years! One particular year, I was given the task of being the gift bearer for the king—which meant I donned my regal costume and carried the gift of gold to present it to baby Jesus. Although I took the role seriously (“don’t trip, bow low, hold the pose, look royal”), I never took to heart what it meant to depict the journey of the magi. I was young and more concerned with what my friends were up to off-stage. My magi journey took me from a dressing room full of my peers, through an auditorium full of strangers, and onto a stage to tell a story. But the real magi? Their journey was different.

The Magi travelled for quite some time, intentionally seeking the newborn king, for the sole purpose of honoring him. Their journey to Christmas wasn’t easy or glamourous. Although the star they followed brought them joy, the journey was still long, arduous, and probably felt a little lackluster at times, but it was worth it to discover Jesus.

Sometimes finding the Christ of Christmas is a bit of a journey for us. Sometimes it takes extra work and intentionality—and it happens after all the initial fuss—and that’s okay. Stay the course, seek Christ, and honor Him. The journey to discover Christ is always worth it.

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