Matthew 2: 1-12

The Magi Visit the Messiah

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.”

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Re-alignment has been a painful experience. For me, it took a running injury to grab my attention and the realisation my body needed physical re-alignment to make me pay attention to my bigger and deeper spiritual need. The good thing is, I’m now practising more intentionally, two things, which are helping me keep on track with God’s purposes for my life:

  1. Fixing my eyes on Jesus and his priorities
  2. More regularly taking my spiritual compass bearings

We actually know very little about these mystical, adventurers referred to as ‘Magi’, who we’ve become accustomed to referring to as ‘wise men’. What we do know is they left all they were familiar with to follow, or rather, to discover the purposes of God.

It’s easy to call them ‘wise’ with hindsight, but I wonder how many of us would have thought this then, especially if we’d known them back east? ‘We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’ Really? On what evidence? They would only really know they were right when they arrived at the stable.

That’s the same for us on many days, isn’t it? We seldom really know how a conversation is going to be heard, or whether sowing a seed of compassion in someone else’s life will take root, or whether our next step of faith with God will reveal the following one (or as we’d prefer, cause the whole map to drop down from heaven), do we?

But we do these things. We practise re-alignment, just like the Magi, whenever we walk in the direction we believe God is calling to take a step in. If the Magi had been content thinking they’d seen the star of Jesus and simply waited until they heard the news from the west, we’d never have known them and they’d probably never have known either. Fixing our eyes on Jesus can’t stay in our head!

The annoying thing about taking a compass bearing regularly, is having to stop and think and pay attention when you really want to get on with your journey.

The good thing about taking a compass bearing regularly is, when you’re off course it’s easier and quicker to get back on course. Think about it … one degree out is next to nothing after ten minutes walking, but after three miles is a noticeable distance. So it is with walking with God. A daily heart check … ‘what am I hearing from God’, ‘where am I seeing God at work’, ‘where am I going with these two things today?’, ‘what am I embodying/taking on board?’ all helps to keep on track, or as schools talk ‘on message’, which is not a bad theme for followers of Jesus.

PS the big challenge we talked about at one our meetings recently was the realisation that it was Herod, calling his advisors together, who may well have given the Magi the Bethlehem info (3-5)!

Prayer: Dear Lord. Show me where my priorities need to re-align with yours in my life today. (then be quiet, be still and listen). Amen.


Nigel Coles

Nigel is Regional Team Leader of the West of England Baptist Association. He facilitates the life of the WEBA network team and oversees the missional strategy for the region. He also works to develop missional strategy over a wider geographical area with our partner Associations and Baptists Together. Nigel believes that when Jesus sent out seventy-two others, he meant everyone who was there, and this passion to help everyone find their way in the mission of God is what inspired the development of Seventy-two.