Our scripture this morning is Matthew 2:1-12.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’” Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!” After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.
Today we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord, commemorating the visit of the Wise Men (or magi or kings) to worship Jesus. They came to Jerusalem from “eastern lands”, meaning they were not Hebrews. God sent the angels to invite the lowly Jewish shepherds, but He also sent the star to invite wealthy and learned folk from far away. All are called to witness the miracle of God with us.
They went first to Jerusalem to meet King Herod, following the protocol of that time. He sent them to Bethlehem with the instruction to inform him when they found the newborn king, but he had no intention of worshiping Jesus. God protected His only son by warning them not to report back to Herod.
Jesus has come to bring salvation to all the world, no matter who we are or where we are from. He calls us all to follow the example He teaches of love for God and one another. As His brothers and sisters, we are sent to share the Good News with the world, ensuring that all people of every class and nation hear of the joy that has come among us.
Loving Lord, in Your mercy You sent Jesus to be our savior and model. May we be eager servants, carrying the Gospel everywhere. Amen.