Follow the Star
You are my son, whom I dearly love. (Luke 3:22)
Last month we looked at the Christmas story as told in the Gospel of Luke. Jesus’ humble beginnings combined with the announcement of his birth to the shepherds sent a message that God identified with persons who are poor or on the outskirts of society. Today’s story from the Gospel of Matthew also conveys the message that God sent Jesus for everyone, but it does so from a different perspective. The magi were Gentiles, or non-Jews, traveling from the east and searching for Jesus.
The magi, or wise men, had not been waiting for the birth of the Messiah for hundreds of years as the Jews had. Rather, they came because they were astrologers who had seen a new star. They believed that the appearance of a new star meant a king had been born, and they were curious. They were searching for this new king. The magi’s search for the new king led them to the current leader, King Herod. From King Herod’s chief priests and scribes, they learned of Micah’s prophecy that a new leader was to be born in Bethlehem. They also received a request from King Herod to report back to him when they found the one they were looking for.
After their interaction with King Herod, the magi continued on their journey following the star that led them to Bethlehem. Matthew tells us that when the star stopped, the magi were “filled with joy” (Matthew 2:10). Even though the magi had not been anticipating the birth of the Messiah as the Jews had, they experienced the same joyful response to Jesus’ birth we saw from the shepherds. The magi acted on their feelings of joy by worshiping Jesus and offering him gifts. The last we hear of the magi is their choice to ignore King Herod’s request to report back to him and instead to heed the warning they received in a dream and to return home by a different route.
Spend some time reflecting on the magi. God chose to send Jesus to everyone, even those who had not been waiting for his arrival and weren’t fully aware of whom they were seeking. Like the magi, we receive the news of Jesus’ birth with joy and honor him with gifts. Help your children understand that although we cannot bring gifts to Jesus in person as the magi did, we can still honor Jesus with our gifts. Following Jesus’ teachings is perhaps the best gift we can give.
God chose Jesus; Jesus chose God.
Activity Sheet Downloads: