Those Far Off Come to the Light

After listening to the king they left, and once again the star they saw when it rose led them until it stopped above the place where the child was. When they saw the star they shouted joyfully. As they came into the house and saw the child with Mary his mother, they bowed down and worshiped him. They opened their treasure boxes and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

(Matthew 2:9–11, NET)

When the Magi left Herod, the star that had been leading them reappeared. Earlier it signaled the birth of the Jewish king (Matthew 2:2), prompting the far-off Magi to travel to Jerusalem. But now it was a guiding star, directing them to Jesus. The star’s movement indicated it was low in the sky, suggesting it was a supernatural phenomenon. When the Magi arrived, they bowed before Jesus and worshiped Him with their gifts.

This episode has a foreshadowing function in Matthew’s Gospel. The Magi, Gentiles from a distant land, responded to God’s revelation, rejoiced when they saw God’s appointed king, and worshiped the infant Jesus. In contrast, Herod and all Jerusalem were “alarmed” (2:3) and did not go to Bethlehem to worship Jesus. Though Herod was an Idumean by birth, he was a practicing Jew. His response foreshadowed the nation’s eventual rejection of their Messiah. The contrast between the Magi and the leaders in Jerusalem illustrates an irony we find in Matthew’s Gospel. Those who were seemingly close to God and should have recognized their Messiah were actually blind, rejecting Jesus, and were eventually rejected by God. But those seemingly far from God, including a leper, a Roman centurion, blind men, and a Canaanite woman, saw the light (see Isaiah 49:6), received God’s mercy, believed in His Son, and entered God’s new covenant community.

When I share the gospel, I often use the Evangecube, because it vividly and memorably pictures the gospel message. As the cube unfolds, it reveals a picture of the fire of eternal punishment, separated from the light of God’s glory by a dark chasm. But there is a cross-shaped bridge connecting the two. Christmas reminds us that Jesus, through His death and resurrection, has built a bridge for far-off, doomed sinners, who are alienated from God. Crossing this bridge will save you from God’s wrath and bring you near to God. You cross by renouncing sin and embracing by faith Jesus’s offer of salvation. If you haven’t done so, there’s no better time than now!