HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
January 8, 2007, Herald Journal
Pastor's Column

Magi from the East

Rev. Martin Schoenfeld, St. James Lutheran Church, Howard Lake

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the East and have come to worship him.’” (Matthew 2:1-2)

These men from the East had come, following a star, looking for the newborn king. Often times, we marvel at them, that they followed the star to Bethlehem.

But there is another part of the story which is just as incredible, that is, who these men were. By this I do not mean if they were kings or astronomers or anything like that – I mean the details of their life stories. What is interesting is that they were foreigners, who came sometime after the birth of Jesus, looking for the newborn king.

This story told by Matthew is an important one because here, even at Jesus’ birth, we see that the good news is meant for all people of the world. This is a theme we see in much of the scriptures.

In Acts 10, we are told how Peter had been sent by God to the home of a Roman centurion. God had given Peter a vision in order to make clear to him that the gospel is for all people. In the early church, the apostle Paul became an evangelist to the Gentiles (Ephesians 3.1-13). God’s Word went forth to those people, and many came to faith in Christ Jesus.

This gospel message of salvation for the Gentiles as well as the Jewish people is a message we see not only in the New Testament, but it is one which is reflected for us in the Old Testament, as well. I think one of the best places we find this is in the story of Jonah.

God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach against that city because of their wickedness. Jonah did not want to go because he knew that God is gracious and compassionate (Jonah 4:2). You see, Nineveh was a Gentile city.

Yet God, in His grace, sent the prophet Jonah to go and proclaim His Word to them. God’s words of law and gospel were meant not only for one select group of people, but they were meant for all, even the Gentiles living in Nineveh.

The birth of Jesus is an event not just for people in our local community or congregation, but it is for all the world. This month, as we enter the season of Epiphany, we again celebrate that the good news of God’s words of law and gospel are meant for all people.

Today, there are many people in our world who ask a similar question as the Magi first did. There are many people who ask concerning Jesus, the one whose birth we have recently celebrated.

At times, we act like Jonah, and we keep the good news of Christ to ourselves. Often, we sin in this way, whether it is intentional or unintentional.

We do this when we don’t take a chance and talk with a friend or a family member about their relationship with Jesus.

We keep the gospel to ourselves when we don’t want to support missions, or if we do, we want to support only local missions.

We keep Jesus to ourselves when we do not live our lives in ways which will bear witness to Jesus.

We keep Jesus to ourselves when we look at church only for what we can get out of it or how it can benefit us, rather than how we can be a blessing to others.

Thankfully, however, the good news of salvation applies to us, as well. Jesus was born in order to save us. Christ has removed our sin by way of the cross and has granted to us eternal salvation on account of His resurrection.

God forgives us because of Jesus.

Today, and in this season of Epiphany, I ask you, who are the people in your life who seem like foreigners? Who are those people with whom you have not yet shared the gospel of Jesus Christ?

When we read how the Magi came looking for Christ, we are reminded that still, to this day, there is a world that is looking and searching for the Savior.

When we hear how the Magi came from the East in order to see Christ and in order to bring Him their gifts, we are reminded that the gospel is for all people.

Therefore, in this season of Epiphany, let us share the good news of salvation through faith in Christ with others, as we rejoice that Jesus came into the world in order to save us.

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