Posts Tagged ‘magi’

“Glory to God in the Highest,” Day 8: Gifts of the Magi

December 8, 2016

I recently created a 31-day Advent/Christmas devotional booklet for my church called “Glory to God in the Highest.” I will be posting a devotional from it each day between now and the end of the year. Enjoy!

Scripture: Matthew 2:11

glory_cover_finalIn his book about the birth of Jesus, Joseph Ratzinger, the former Pope Benedict XVI, describes the theological meaning of the gifts that the magi give Jesus:

In the Church’s tradition—with certain variations—the three gifts have been thought to represent three aspects of the mystery of Christ: the gold points to Jesus’ kingship, the incense to his divine sonship, the myrrh to the mystery of his Passion.[1]

In other words, these gifts symbolize that Jesus is king, that Jesus is God, and that Jesus would die for our sins in order to reconcile us to God. But the myrrh also reminds us of Easter. Ratzinger continues:

The myrrh actually appears in Saint John’s Gospel after the death of Jesus: John tells us that Nicodemus had prepared myrrh, among other ointments, for the anointing of Jesus’ body (cf. Jn 19:39). Through the myrrh, then, the mystery of the Cross is once again associated with Jesus’ kingship and mysteriously proclaimed in the worship offered by the wise men. Anointing is an attempt to resist death, which only becomes definitive with decomposition. By the time the women came to the tomb to anoint the boy on Easter morning—a task that could not be carried out on the evening of the crucifixion because of the approaching feast-day—Jesus had already risen. He no longer needed myrrh as a protection against death, because God’s life itself had overcome death.[2]

Reflect on each of the magi’s gifts. How do you show Jesus that he is king of your life? If Jesus is truly God, what does his life and death teach us about God and his love?

1. Joseph Ratzinger, aka Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives (New York: Image, 2012), 107.

2. Ibid.

Sermon for 01-01-12: “Journey to Bethlehem, Part 5: The Magi”

January 9, 2012

"Adoration or the Magi," Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337)

We conclude our sermon series “Journey to Bethlehem” by turning our attention to the Wise Men, or magi. These royal astrologers followed a star from Persia to Bethlehem in order to find the newborn king of the Jews.

Do you believe that God still gives signs today, which draw people to Jesus Christ? Have you ever considered that God may be calling you to be a compelling sign to others?

Sermon Text: Matthew 2:1-12

The following is my original manuscript.

Occasionally, when my children were babies, I had the privilege of giving them a bottle in the middle of the night and feeding them. While I was feeding or rocking them to sleep, I would listen to a syndicated radio show that comes on in the middle of the night called “Coast to Coast.” Some of you know this show. It features guests and callers who often talk about UFOs—including Area 51 and Roswell and various conspiracy theories purporting to show how aliens from outer space have visited our planet, and our government has covered up the evidence. I wish I could suspend my disbelief and buy into these conspiracy theories because it seems like fun! It’s fun to speculate about intelligent life on other planets, although scientifically it seems very unlikely. It’s fun to speculate, for example, how aliens living trillions of miles away are reacting to the Beatles now that the radio waves from the first Ed Sullivan Show appearance are reaching them. Read the rest of this entry »

Advent Blog Tour, Day 21: “Do you see what I see?”

December 21, 2010

Giotto di Bondone (1267–1337), "Adoration of the Magi"

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the reign of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him.” When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, and everyone in Jerusalem was troubled with him. He gathered all the chief priests and the legal experts and asked them where the Christ was to be born. They said, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what the prophet wrote:

You, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
by no means are you least among the rulers of Judah,
because from you will come one who governs,
who will shepherd my people Israel.” Matthew 2:1-6 (CEB)

A couple of years ago, I visited a parishioner who was convalescing at home after a debilitating illness. He was a former NASA scientist—with a Ph.D. from Harvard—who was also an amateur astronomer. (“Amateur” in the truest sense of the word—he didn’t need compensation to pursue his love for the stars.) To pass the time and keep his sanity during his long recovery, he engaged in some astronomical research.

“I’ve made a discovery,” he told me with excitement as he greeted me at the door. “I know the date on which Jesus was born!” Read the rest of this entry »