By CRAIG HARRIS
Matthew 2: 10-12 (NIV): 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
This is the part of the Christmas story about the mysterious Magi who came and worshiped Jesus and presented him with gifts. Many churches tell this story on "Epiphany Sunday", which falls around the 12th-day of Christmas. This is a centuries-old tradition that dates back to at least 350 A.D.
An Epiphany is a revelation. It is when a person sees something, as though a light were shining on it to reveal it to him. It's an "Oh, I see" moment. Since we are not sure who the Magi were, they represent the peoples of the earth. Matthew tells us they were from the east and from another country.
That's all we know for sure. I personally believe they were Jews who had remained in Babylon after the exile, but I can't completely prove this. Because they came from a distant land to worship the Christ, we celebrate the epiphany that God's gift of salvation is for all people.
So, have you seen the light? Have you had the epiphany that God loves you and wants to save you?
And they worshiped Jesus when they found him. That should be our response as well. They bowed to him and presented him with gifts – gifts that reveal who he was: gold is a gift for a king, incense is a gift for a God, and myrrh is a gift for a Savior. Myrrh was used to anoint a dead person and would have been a strange gift to give anyone other than a person who came to die for us. True worship always involves sacrifice and they understood this.
We see in this story that evil was at work to thwart God's plans, but evil did not prevail. God is in control and his plans are always fulfilled. Now it's up to us to see the light and understand this.
Autographed copies of Craig's fiction novel “The Dead Peasants File” are for sale at Blaser's Books in downtown Palestine. Harris is the pastor at Brushy Creek and Mt. Vernon United Methodist churches.