“Whatever it was, it is significant that God met them in their own medium.”
This powerful quote from David Guzik’s “Enduring Word” commentary on Matthew 2 caught my breath away. I do a fair amount of commentary reading on each scripture that I am studying and sometimes a single beautiful sentence will take my thinking into a different place.
So, let’s back up and unpack this.
We are in that familiar place in the post-nativity drama where King Herod had just discovered that Jesus was born. In his anxious paranoia, he immediately set out to destroy anyone who might challenge his fragile grip on his throne. The scriptures record that he was frightened, and his fear of this usurper baby spread throughout his minions and his city.
Enter the magi, which is translated to astronomer or philosopher. These men studied the skies, the stars, the planets, and the ancient astrological predictions. They realized that a king had been born to the Jews. Not kings themselves, these curious scientists traveled many miles following Christ’s star to Bethlehem:
Matthew 2 (Common English Bible)
2 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, magi from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star in the east and have come to pay him homage.” 3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him, 4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it has been written by the prophet:
6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah,
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.’ ”
The Jewish scholars confirmed what the Eastern astronomers knew: something astronomical had happened and it needed to be seen. When the magi reached the place where the Epiphany star rested over Bethlehem they were overwhelmed with joy.
7 Then Herod secretly called for the magi and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” 9 When they had heard the king, they set out, and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen in the east, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.
Let us stop here for a moment as well.
The magi were gentiles. They were not Jews who had anticipated the Messiah’s arrival for generations. They were stargazers, and planet-watchers … in other words, men of learning and science. Religion paid no part in their quest; they were drawn by the appearance of a spectacular vision in the heavens and their curiosity drove them to find answers. Or, as Guzik states, “Whatever it was, it is significant that God met them in their own medium.” Planets, stars, imploding new universes, supernovas … whatever that “star”was, God chose their medium to communicate the birth of his son to them. He spoke to them from the star, knowing that they were looking at the skies.
God always speaks to us in our own medium. He uses people, situations, events, callings, tragedies, blessings, joy, etc. to speak his language of love and hope into our lives.
Are you listening?
11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
God also speaks words of warning into our lives when we are headed in the wrong direction. How hard he works to keep us going in the right direction! How disappointed he must be when we continue to go our own way, despite his warnings.
God invites us to look around today and discover where he is speaking to us. And then we are invited to follow.
That’s what wise people do.