Epiphany: The Joy of the Magi

Matthew 2:1-12 (NIV)

Reading verse 10 in the Greek original struck me with force.

“When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”

As in the English, notice the Greek words for “rejoiced” and “joy” sound similar and reinforce the Magi’s feeling of tremendous relief that they had found the child. It must have felt like looking for a needle in a haystack in those days without maps or satnav.

It occurred to me that the wise men had come a long way from the East (Persia? India?) and had no idea where they were going, as they ended up at Herod’s palace in Jerusalem of all places and inadvertently revealed what they knew about the child to the king.

The wise men had to be redirected to Bethlehem by those who knew the ancient prophecies, specifically Micah. They still did not know which street or which house until the star literally stood over where the child was.

Perhaps we need to reclaim their sense of urgency, wonder and joy in this day and age? Here were men willing to set off on a long journey possibly with their camels as a form of transport, carrying valuable gifts inside treasure boxes in the panniers for the child-king. They may have taken several weeks and months in preparation for this journey, which may have taken up to a year from the first rising of the star in the east to the joyful culmination of finding what they had come to seek.

Here was real faith in action on the part of the wise men, not knowing whither they were going, but trusting in the star to guide them.

May we similarly seek You in our lives and give You glory and honour, if not in magnificent gifts such as these, but in our true hearts. Amen.


Mary Bucknall.