Here is a simple thought: to fulfill the divine mission, God became incarnate. Incarnational ministry is God’s idea. We celebrate with cards and creches, with trees, lights and gifts of various kinds. But we move now from Advent (from the Laitn “ad venite”, to come) to Epiphany (Greek for “to uncover or reveal”). We will get to see through the next several weeks, how God is going to redeem his creation – because there is more than one group of people on the earth whoa re waiting for, praying for, hoping for. The magi had been watching all through the creation for some time to see the sign they were looking for. When they got it, they got ready and got on the move to go in search of the child that is proclaimed to be the King of creation.
It is interesting that they went to Herod’s court to find out more about the One they had come in search of. The Magi in doing so, must have heard of Herod the great, his infamous temper, and jealously towards rivals. Reputations, deserved or no, are hard to live down. None of that dissuaded them from the encounter with Herod and his court. The news of a new and true king being born for the people would no doubt have been more than a nine days’ wonder in Jerusalem because a new king meant fresh trouble for everyone. Those in power would be afraid of being displaced and would act in dreadful measure to ensure that the status quo is maintained.
It might be helpful for you to know that the Magi were no allies of the Roman Empire – politically or religiously. Proclaiming Jesus, the true king in the court of Herod, an appointed monarch of the people who was acceptable to Rome. It would be important to also note that the Magi when to Jerusalem and on to Bethlehem to see the boy king they traveled hard, risked much and were rewarded at the end of the search with seeing the heavenly born Prince of Peace. They knelt down and worshiped him and offered gifts – gold for royalty, frankincense for prayer and the presence of God, and myrrh for health and long life.
Herod, for his part was lost in fear that there might be one who could take his throne. When he realized that the Magi were not going to lead him to his rival caused him to react and send soldiers to Bethlehem to kill every boy from new born to the age of 2. We know that Herod was not successful, for Joseph to Mary and Jesus to Egypt where they remained for a time, until Herod was dead. And then, under the command of dream they returned to Nazareth.
Where does this leave us at the end of this Christmas season? We are witnesses to the truth: that Jesus is God with the flesh on. Telling others about the truth is a life shaking thing to do for both the receiver and the speaker. Speaking the truth, even when it is done in love is not always going to receive a positive reaction. It can anger people just as easily as it can bless and set people free. It reminds them that they are not in control. Truth needs to be spoken in love and needs to sometimes defy authority when necessary.
So, we must consider that in proclaiming Jesus, that following the Morning Star is not a easy thing and therefore should not be a blind venture. Faithfulness will lead us into times of risk, places where we are going to need faith and courage and following directions out of dreams that will require trusting hearts and obedience in doing as we have been asked as we follow the Star. And I can witness to the fact that when we are faithful to what God asks of us, it is a joyful thing to be found faithful and worthy of your calling and service of Christ and the Gospel – even if there are fetters and chains. It is not about the circumstances we are in or possessions we do or do not have – it is about being found with and in Christ. It is about knowing that Christ is here and that our redemption is at hand. Let Christ be incarnate in you.