The Light – Matthew 2:1-12
“We Three Kings”
Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy perfect light.
Matthew is the only gospel that speaks of an extraordinary celestial event. A star which led the Magi to Jesus. Magi were often understood as “wise men” but may be more accurately described as astronomers/astrologists and they certainly understood Biblical prophecies. Astrology was considered the science of the day. Yet any form of divination was forbidden in scripture. It’s curious that the Magi were the only ones to see the star when everyone else seemed unaware. More important, the Magi understood the significance of the star.
“When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy” Matthew 2:10
The star was made for the very purpose of leading the Magi to Jesus. When following the star to Jerusalem they expected to find the new King in Herod’s palace. King Herod was troubled by the visitors and threatened by the news. Herod was protective of his power and jealous of any potential rivals. Herod instructs the Magi, “when you have found Him, bring word back back to me, so that I may go and worship Him”. Matthew 2:8
The Magi continue their journey to Bethlehem following the star until it “stood over where the young child was”. Matthew 2:9
Matthew doesn’t specify how many Magi traveled but it is assumed only three because of the famous three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. It’s likely that the Magi traveled in a large caravan. After paying respect to Jesus, the child born as the King of the Jews, they traveled on never to be heard from again. Perhaps home to Persia, Babylon, or anywhere in the Middle East, without reporting to Herod. If we didn’t have this account of the Magi by Matthew, I doubt we would have our gift giving traditions of today.