"The star proclaims the King is here; But, Herod, why this senseless fear? For He who offers heav'nly birth, seeks not the kingdoms of this earth. The eastern sages saw from far, And followed on His guiding star; And, led by light, to light they trod, And by their gifts confessed their God."
This wonderful hymn refers to a phenomenal event that occurred during the earliest years of Jesus' life on earth. It's known as the Epiphany (Greek for "shining forth" or "manifestation"). It took place when traveling sages, i.e. "wise men" came hundreds of miles from their own country to Jerusalem to see Jesus. This is the Epiphany -- one of the solemn occasions recorded in Scripture (Jesus' Baptism and the miracle at Cana being two others) where Jesus' divinity is revealed, particularly to Gentiles.
Matthew 2:1-2 says, "Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him."
A star. The nighttime sky is dotted with billions of them -- a countless legion sprinkled across the canopy of the heavens. And from this panoply of diamonds (and how it must appear like twinkling jewels when seen from the lightless vastness of ancient Near Eastern deserts!), magi -- sages, men of intellectual and spiritual renown -- trekked the seemingly limitless expanse to do ... to do what? To worship Him.
How marvelous this narrative is in showing God at work! An ordinary couple heads south from Galilee to fulfill a census requirement; a baby is born in crude and nondescript circumstances in a backwater village; there in Bethlehem the Child and His parents remain until wise men seek His whereabouts, and it is they who are gifted for a special honor: they are the first to declare Him "King of the Jews."
It's the same designation that would appear over His head some 30 years later as He hung on the cross.
And leaving gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, the wise men exited Judea, savvy to Herod's cunning and whatever sick plans he was hatching to eliminate this child rival. Matthew 2:12 says, "And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way."
But the wise men did not leave empty-handed.
One could imagine their conversation on the initial journey westward: "What is this that compels us forward?" "Who is it we are going to see?"
And after their return trip eastward, they surely delivered some sort of report to the powers that be: "He who we went to see is not a man at all, but a child, with no royal connections, no status to mark Him as significant or worthy of our respect. But yet we fell down at His feet and worshipped Him!"
Who knows? They might have even broken out in song on the way home: "For this Thy glad epiphany, All glory, Jesus, be to Thee, Whom with the Father we adore, and Holy Spirit evermore."
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, Your riches are unfathomable. Even the way You crafted our salvation story is beyond compare. Teach us, like the wise men, to seek Your Son and follow Him closely. In His Name, we pray. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Paul Schreiber. It is based on the hymn, "The Star Proclaims the King Is Here," which is found on page 399 in the Lutheran Service Book.
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