Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:
‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah;
For out of you shall come forth a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”
Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way. (Matthew 2:1-12)
1. Herod is the acting king of the House of David.
2. These Magi are gentiles from the east.
3. Magi are a caste of wise men specializing in astronomy, astrology, and natural science.
4. Science points toward God, not away from God.
5. The Magi are looking for the true king of the House of David.
6. Herod is not the true king.
7. The Magi have come to worship the true king.
8. Herod is troubled by this news, and all of Jerusalem is troubled along with him.
As it says in the first verses of the gospel of John:
There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:9-13)
In Matthew 2, we see Israel, in name only, greatly disturbed by these gentiles from the east searching for the true king. These Magi are scientists who have followed their science to the true king of Israel, and they are willing to worship this king. They are olive branches grafted onto the tree of Israel, and the shuddering inhabitants of Jerusalem are dead branches which are to be pruned from the tree.
This is the Epiphany: everything you assumed to be true is wrong, and the light has come into the world to shine its truth upon Christ. If we look at Romans 9, we can see some nuances that we may not have seen before. This sentence in Romans 9:7: "Through Isaac Your Descendants Will Be Named (Called)." Abraham had two sons, but Isaac is in Christ and Ishmael is not. Isaac had two sons, but Jacob is in Christ and Esau is not. Those in Jacob are called to God's purpose. Those in Esau are not. However, Esau was born first, which traditionally meant that he was to get all the inheritance. However, God has his secret election of individuals, those whom he sees as being in Christ. The Magi point to this election: gentiles whose science leads them to Christ. But the sitting king and the people of Jerusalem, though they be physical descendants of Jacob, they be spiritual descendants of Esau.
The birth of Christ turned everything upside down, and our rebirth in Christ turns everything upside down in us. Are you following the star? Are you being led more and more into Christ? So many clues abound in scripture about those who have thought themselves to be rejected actually being the ones approved. God wants you to know that you are not left out. You, too, can be his. Follow the star to where it leads.