This site was desiged for standard modern browsers. Please upgrade your internet browser to Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

Visitors from the East

Michael Gagnon /Monday, December 13, 2021

 

Their appearance attracted the passing attention of the crowds in the capital city, crowds quite accustomed to caravans arriving from different parts of the world, with their exotic personages and wares.

However, when they spoke, when they addressed their inquiry to the folk who welcomed them, the Magi sent a shock wave through Jerusalem. In one sentence, Matthew the evangelist paints a portrait jam-packed with depth and nuance that points us to the global impact of the birth of the Christ.

“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.” - Matthew 2:1-2 NIV

From the earliest days, the visit of the Magi has been celebrated as a recognition, even in the Gospel account, of the inclusion of the Gentiles in the Kingdom reach of the Christ. But if we’ll take some time to reflect on this understated declaration, and to unpack it a bit, we can only marvel at the facets of God’s working to reach the nations.

Who were the Magi?

First, let’s look at who these folks were. Matthew says simply, ‘Magi from the east’. Some translations render it ‘wise men from the east’. The term reminds us of the counselors of the court of Babylon, sometimes called wise men, sometimes ‘magicians’ (whose root is magi).

Among their arts was astronomy especially as it applied in astrology. Their roots go back to Babel, they were of the class of pagan spiritual priests of the oldest of false religions.  Over the centuries, even after the fall of the Babylonian empire, they continued to exercise their arts.

In Every Cultural Group – God Speaks our Language

Second, notice that which had launched their two-to-four-month odyssey from their homeland to Israel; they had seen a star which appeared with extraordinary qualities. One commentary notes, “The Lord gives revelations and enlightenment to men in circumstances most propitious to their understanding.” (La Bible Annotée - freely translated)

This echoes what Don Richardson underscored in the Kairos video, ‘A world prepared’; God has given points of contact; of preparedness for receptivity of his message in every cultural group. With the appearance of the star, unlike any other, God got the attention of these experts in astronomy. He spoke their language.

Impact of “Involuntary Going”

In the third place, hear their conviction and weigh its import: “We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” This tells us that not only did they notice an astral phenomenon, but they seriously went about trying to understand what its significance was.

That they had concluded that it was the star of the newborn King of the Jews speaks to us of the impact of the ‘involuntary going’ of the Israelites into the Babylonian captivity and of the lasting impact of the Hebrew writings upon the peoples of the east.

Not only had their research led them to an interpretation of the significance of the star, but more, it had led them to believe in the one it was leading them to; they came to WORSHIP him.

God’s Heart for the Nations

Lastly, notice the contrast implied (and developed further in the text): Of all the studious people of the age - an age that was marked by a heightened expectation of Messiah - the first witnesses and worshippers of the Christ from those classes were Gentiles.

Here we see God’s heart for the nations at the heart of the Christmas event.

Let us come and worship the Christ!


Michael H. Gagnon has been serving in pastoral ministries in Quebec for over 40 years and has been involved in Simply Mobilizing since 2013. He serves as Quebec/French language coordinator on the National Coordination Team. He is married to Darlene (nee Brooke) and they presently are pastoring a French congregation in Matane, Quebec. They have 6 children and 19 grandchildren. Desiring to see the whole church mobilized to make disciples of Jesus everywhere, Michael is enthusiastically committed to the SM movement.



print


Show All Blogs

An Invitation to Pray: Week 7

An Invitation to Pray
WEEK SEVEN: Witness

As we enter into this final week of prayer leading up to Pentecost Sunday (May 19th), we pray for a disciple movement that is a witness movement among all nations, all generations, and all hearts. Please join us as we lift our hearts to God, seeking His guidance and empowerment in this ongoing prayer initiative.


An Invitation to Pray: Week 6

An Invitation to Pray
WEEK SIX: The Calling and Empowering of the Holy Spirit

Join us in prayer from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday as we unite, focusing this week on the power of the Holy Spirit to impact and lead upcoming generations. As we recognize the importance of mobilizing our youth into God's mission, let's also lift up prayers for our Youth Mobilizers, so that they may be empowered, equipped, and provided for in their vital work. 


An Invitation to Pray: Week 5

An Invitation to Pray
WEEK FIVE: Unity of Mind and Purpose Born Out of Humility

In this fifth week of our prayer focus, we delve into the significance of praying for leaders and pastors to embody Jesus' vision of unity, fostering missional churches. Join us in praying for the Holy Spirit to empower mobilizers in their vital ministry.


An Invitation to Pray: Week 4

An Invitation to Pray
WEEK FOUR: Prayer for Empowered Teams

During the sacred period between Easter and Pentecost, our prayer focus turns to teams trained and empowered by Jesus for their mission. This time commemorates the disciples' receiving of the Holy Spirit, igniting a fervent prayer for modern-day teams to be similarly equipped for their tasks. As believers unite in prayer, they seek the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to guide, strengthen, and boost these teams in their endeavours.


An Invitation to Pray: Week 3

An Invitation to Pray

In this time between Easter and Pentecost, let's embrace the strength of communal prayer. Just as the early followers assembled with one purpose, let's raise our voices in harmony, seeking the Holy Spirit's guidance and blessings. During this third week, let's lift up prayers for the mobilization efforts to flourish, seeking opportunities for collaboration and fruitful partnerships in reaching diverse communities across Canada.


An Invitation to Pray: Week 2

An Invitation to Pray

As we journey through the sacred season between Easter and Pentecost, let us come together, Christians united in faith, to embrace the power of collective prayer. In this second week of our initiative, let us deepen our commitment to intercede for our communities, nations, and the world at large. Let us not underestimate the impact of our collective supplications, for in unity, our prayers resonate with greater resonance before the throne of God. Join us in this sacred endeavor, as we strive to be vessels of love, peace, and healing in a world yearning for divine intervention.


An Invitation to Pray

Join the SM family in Canada in a Season of Prayer: Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday (March 31-May 19)

This Sunday we celebrate Easter, remembering the death, burial, and resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord. On that Resurrection Day everything changed. But it wasn’t until the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came, that the power of that change was fully realized in the early disciples’ lives.

We need that same power to be at work in our efforts as the Simply Mobilizing family in Canada to awaken the church, the ‘sleeping giant’.  Our mobilization efforts shifted online during the pandemic, and much good has come from that. But the Canadian context and the Canadian church have changed. How shall we respond to these changes?