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Seeking to equip people to live as Christian disciples wherever God has placed them.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

“What Did You See?”

Matthew 2:1-12

Tomorrow is Epiphany, the day we celebrate the coming of the Wise Men to worship the baby Jesus.  The familiarity of this story should not blind us to the many lessons that we can learn here.  To begin with, the Wise Men make a series of assumptions which seem completely reasonable.  However they are seriously wrong in a number of cases.

We don’t know how the Wise Men know the significance of the star they are following.  Granted, as astrologers they would recognize an unusual star.  However they also know that the star will lead them to the child who has been born king of the Jews.  How they know this we are not told.  Somehow the Holy Spirit has revealed it to them.

Given that information they make the following assumptions.  They imagine that the child is born in the capital city of Jerusalem, probably in the king’s palace.  They also assume that the present king would not only know about the child’s birth but would be welcoming the child.  In fact Herod plays on this assumption by asking the Wise Men to come back and tell him of the child’s location so that he “may also go and pay him homage.”  Without receiving a specific warning from the Lord they would probably have complied with Herod’s request.

All of these assumptions are reasonable and all of them are wrong.  Jesus is not born in the capital city.  Still less is he born in a royal palace.  His birth is not being celebrated by the current king.  To the contrary, King Herod (who was more than a little paranoid) feels very threatened by this child.  This brings him to the extreme of ordering the deaths of all the children in Bethlehem.

We often have definite expectations about the Lord.  We may feel disoriented when these expectations are not fulfilled.  We may even be led to a crisis of faith when our hopes are not realized and our prayers are not answered.

We need to learn a lesson from the Wise Men.  We may not be searching for God in the right places.  Our beliefs may not conform to what God appears to be doing.  Jesus accepts people who are unacceptable.  Jesus brings out the meaning of scripture in ways that the religious leaders of his time neither anticipated nor understood.

God is a God of surprises.  The greatest surprise is that he came into this world to be just like us so that he could be our savior.

Merciful and loving God keep me open to your surprises.  May I recognize your grace in places I would not expect.  I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.