The Visit Of The Magi

Passage: Matthew 2:1-12

Mythbusters is one of my favourite shows. They take a myth (sometimes from a film or a book) and they’ll do their best to find out whether that myth is true or whether it is false. Basically they just spend show after show blowing things up. Sounds great to me!

Today I want to do a little myth-busting on the passage we’ve just read. You see when we hear about the visit of the Magi we often hear a number of things – firstly that they were three Kings – we sing “We three Kings of Orient are” – Well there are a couple of problems right there – Three Kings?

The bible doesn’t tell us how many Kings there were! Matthew tells us of three gifts that were given but for all we know there could have been 10 of them.

Secondly – Kings? In the nativity plays and on Christmas cards you’ll see plenty of shiny gold crowns but in reality we don’t know that they were Kings – The word Magi could mean a few things but we aren’t entirely sure who these visitors were.

The other image that we pick up from our Christmas Cards is the one of Mary, Joseph with Jesus in a stable rammed full of animals, shepherds and wise men all illuminated by the light of the star above the stable. Again I’m afraid that is probably busted! The Magi most probably visited quite some time after Jesus was born and long after the family left the stable.

So what do we know about these strange visitors?

Firstly they went to great lengths to find Jesus – Matthew tells us that they were following a star and had travelled from the east.

Secondly we know what gifts they brought to Jesus. Now I’m not sure what you got for Christmas but I doubt many of you got this – Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. These are very strange gifts for a baby! Actually they are pretty strange gifts for anyone. I think I’d be a little confused if I got them. But actually at the time that Jesus was born these gifts were pretty significant. These were not the sort of gifts that people gave to each other – they were gifts that were given, at the very least, to a king more likely though as an offering to a god.

That tells us that they were probably pretty important people – not many people could have afforded to bring such amazing gifts.

I find it really interesting that the two groups of people that the bible tells us visited Jesus as an infant were so different. We know the Magi were pretty special – but who were the other people to visit Jesus?

If the Magi were pretty important then the Shepherds were the lowest of the low. They were second class citizens, social outcasts, not accepted by society!

And what did they bring to Jesus? As far as we’re aware they brought nothing but themselves. Nowhere near as spectacular an arrival as the Magi. Yet the New Testament records their presence with Mary and Joseph just as it does the Magi.

As we read through the New Testament we come across a few other instances in which people bring things to Jesus – we read about a little boy who was willing to give Jesus all the food he had with him and which Jesus goes on to feed 5000 people with. There is also the story of the woman who brings expensive perfume and pours it all over Jesus to the disgust of the disciples who feel she could have spent the money on something else.

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated the birth of Jesus. What is it that we are bringing to him today? What gift, talent or resource do you have that you can offer to him this morning? It doesn’t matter whether it is something seemingly extravagant or simply yourself – in fact the bible suggests that giving ourselves is the best gift that we can offer.

Additional Extras:

We showed a short youtube clip from a mythbusters special on the film Jaws at the beginning of the talk and asked the congregation to guess whether or not the myth would be busted or confirmed before I showed them the clip. This went down really well as their clips are invariably pretty funny!

This talk was originally followed by the prayer station:

The Visit Of The Magi Activity