Posted by: Jonathan Stepp | January 6, 2008

The Magi

The visit of the Magi, celebrated today on Epiphany and recorded in Matthew 2, seems like an odd scene in the birth of Jesus. Who are they, where do they come from, and what is the star they followed?

In Ephesians 2:15 Paul says that Jesus has made one new humanity of Jew and Gentile. In biblical language this means that all humanity is in Christ. Why? Because in biblical language there are only two kinds of people: Jews and Gentiles. If both are part of the new humanity created in Christ’s body then all humanity is included in him.

In the light of who Jesus is, as the one who has reconciled Jew and Gentile to the Father, the story of the Magi makes more sense.

Matthew is telling us that Jesus’ birth means the redemption of the whole world, Jew and Gentile.

It also helps us make more sense out of our traditional nativity scenes. There are Jews in the scene (Joseph, Mary, the Shepherds) there are Gentiles in the scene (the Magi) there are representatives of creation (the farm animals and angel) and even the heavens themselves (the star.)

As Paul says in Colossians 1:20, all creation and everything on heaven and earth is reconciled in the person of Christ who is the union of God and humanity.

The nativity scene may not be very good historical reconstruction (since the Magi and Shepherds weren’t there at the same time) but it is excellent theology since it faithfully represents the reconciliation of all things in Jesus.

What an Epiphany! With the arrival of the Magi we at last realize that Jesus really is the light of the universe who enlightens all humanity!


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