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Jesus: Our Everlasting


Joy: A Gospel for All the Nations

Monday, December 18 | by Aaron Parish

Today's Reading

Matthew 2:1-12

Imagine with me a young boy, maybe eight or nine years old. He stands at the edge of the playground where several other children are playing chase together. They laugh and giggle, but this boy does not. He stands timidly and quietly, wondering in his heart, "Am I invited? Is this for me? Could I belong here?"

It breaks anyone's heart to think of that little boy. Of course, you are invited! Of course, this is for you! Of course, you could belong here! But, not so in the first decade BCE. That's the general time period in which the Magi probably visited Jesus. At that time, Judaism was only for a certain type of person. All others were excluded because of their ethnicity. The worship of God, so they thought, was restricted to "good Jews" who have fulfilled all the laws of ceremonial purity. That's it. No one else.

Especially not the Magi from the East. They were all wrong. They were everything that the Jewish community would never have wanted near their Messiah. First of all, they were "from the East." This strikes an ominous tone in the reader's mind, who remembers that "the East" is where Babylon was. Exile as punishment for sin was in the East. Second, they were Magi. They were astrologers. This was something that the Law of Moses forbids. These can't be the right people to find and worship the Messiah. Can they? They are pagans, aren't they? Don't the Babylonians worship false gods? How did these people end up here?

So, even though we've cleaned up the visit of the Magi and placed them (out of chronological order) in our nativities, the reality is that this was an incredibly offensive thing in the mind of the first-decade Jew.

But not to God. Not to our holy, loving, and merciful God! This was precisely what he wanted, and His star led these wise men right to the spot He intended. From here, Matthew will go on to tell a gospel story that tramples dividing walls, equalizes races, and is offered to anyone regardless of their ethnicity. Praise be to our all-powerful and infinitely wise Creator!

We become the wise men. We recognize that we met none of the first-century Jews’ requirements for acceptance with God, and yet the Gospel welcomes you and me. 

Matthew places this story at the beginning of his Gospel to signal something to his reader that should cause us to marvel. The Gospel is not only for the Jew. It is offered freely to anyone without regard for your race, ethnicity, abilities, or failures. And suddenly, we become the wise men. We recognize that we met none of the first-century Jews' requirements for acceptance with God, and yet the Gospel welcomes you and me.

But this Gospel must be accepted. Jesus Christ must be trusted. Over the last few months, war has reminded us that the Gospel, which brings peace, has been declined by so many. While the nations rage, we who follow Jesus mourn. Truly, the only hope that these nations have, like the Magi before them, is to stop their rage, go search out Jesus, and bow down in humble adoration before him. 

But let us center our hearts on Joy this week. As we consider the Magi as a reminder of the nations, let us meditate on our hope in Revelation 7:9-10 when John says, "I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!'"

Oh, what joy when God will be glorified in that Great Someday. That day, when people from every time and every place, in all of their diversity, join together to worship Him in perfect unity. Thank you, Father, for the story of the Magi from the East. Come, Lord Jesus! 

Aaron Parish serves as the Director of Immigration at Dallas Baptist University.

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