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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, January 6, 2021  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Matthew 2:1–12                              

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”

When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road. (NRSV)

Wise men from the East became aware of a child being born king of the Jews by observing his star at its rising. Why might these men have had this vision? Were they aware of the Old Testament’s prediction of the Messiah coming? Could they be astrologers who studied ancient astrology? Did they have a special message from God that the Messiah was coming?

This being an unusual vision, the wise men traveled to Jerusalem to inform King Herod. These men were true leaders respected by the king. He was immediately alarmed as were others in Jerusalem. This news could signal a threat to his reign and power. He secretly called the wise men to further define when the star had appeared.

The king gave them direction to set forth for Bethlehem to search diligently for the child. The star they had seen guided them to the location. Did God create a special star to announce Jesus’ birth? The wise men were overwhelmed with joy when they found the baby Jesus, knelt, and paid homage with gifts worthy of a king, gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Upon leaving, the wise men disregarded the king’s instructions to return to inform him that they had found the infant so he could go and pay homage. Instead, they followed a dream, leaving for their own country by another road.

Have we had moments of spiritual revelation, “stars,” or “dreams” that have given us instant clarity to proceed in a direction?

Loving God, I am grateful for your revelations that have guided me with new insights in following your will for my life. Amen.

Written by Pamela Block, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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