by Rev. Antony W. Ball
There they are – those three kings on their way to visit the Baby Jesus, to pay homage to Him. We sing about them in our Christmas Carols, and celebrate their arrival on Thursday January 6th – Epiphany – but virtually nothing in that picture agrees with Scripture.
They were not kings. They were ‘magi’ – wise men, philosophers, pagan priests – not kings trekking through the desert wearing their crowns and coronation robes.
They didn’t arrive while Baby Jesus was still in the manger – He must have been a toddler, because King Herod arranged…
…the massacre of all children in Bethlehem and its neighbourhood, of the age of two years or less, corresponding with the time he had ascertained from the astrologers…1
…and even I can tell the difference between a new-born baby and a two-year-old.
The manger was in the stable (quite possibly a cave) of a house (or inn), not out in the open under a couple of palm trees – “they laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them to lodge in the house”2
Does any of that matter? Not in the least! What matters is…
- * that the Baby Jesus was visited and recognized by all sorts of people, from local shepherds to foreign magi, and He remains available to all sorts of people today – young and old, wise and simple, rich and poor, local and foreign – He’s here to be worshipped by anybody and everybody…
- * that the magi were led by a star, the shepherds by a choir of angels and the donkey by Joseph himself – there are all sorts of ways to find Jesus, and all that matters is that we do find Him somehow…
- * the magi’s gifts were gold, frankincense and myrrh – appreciated, no doubt, but not as much as the worship they offered Him – whoever we are, the greatest gift we can offer Him is our worship…
The few of us who were at the Candlelight Carol Service last Sunday were thinking about ‘The Way of the Lord’ – how crazy God’s way of entering the world seemed to be compared with how we might have organized it.
- * Rather than making an impressive entrance along a superhighway, He chose to come in the same way the rest of us do: as a weak, vulnerable human baby.
- * Rather than be born rich in a palace in the capital city, He chose poverty in a stable, far from His parents’ home in Nazareth.
- * Rather than making His presence felt by asserting Himself as almighty and all-powerful, He allowed people to ignore Him if that’s what they chose to do.
Most people still choose to ignore Him most of the time. Do you ?
1 Mt ii 16
2 Lk ii 7c