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Sermonette: Dec. 9, 2019


December 9, 2019

This Advent season I have been exploring the many dreams and visions that surround and are part of the story of Jesus’ birth. While there are a number of visions in the nativity found in Luke, I have been focusing on the five dreams we find in Matthew. In the second dream we encounter in Matthew the magi learn that Herod is a danger to the Christ child and they are not to return to him with news of where the child lives. We read: “And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road” (Matthew 2:12).

I wonder about these mysterious magi. We don’t know a lot about them. They tell us themselves that their journey began in the “east” where they saw a strange star. So, it seems that they study the movement of the stars and planets. They tell us that they have linked the rising of this strange star with the birth of the king of the Jews. So, it seems that they study ancient scripture texts. We are told they bring some gifts with which to worship this new king. So, it is probable that they are people of some means.

There is a great deal of speculation surrounding these mysterious magi. There is much debate over almost every detail in Matthew’s account of them. Their place of origin, their number, the meaning of their gifts, the nature of that strange star they followed have been discussed for centuries by Biblical scholars with no agreement.

While it might be fun to join in the speculation, I think it might lead us away from something very important. I am captivated by the fact that these magi somehow heeded the dream. This dream was so real, so powerful for them that they abandoned their plans and returned by a different route. I think this is huge, for if they hadn’t paid attention to this dream we might not have a Savior. We do read in Matthew of Herod’s murderous intentions toward the Christ child.

The magi traveled many miles from their home intent on worshiping the newborn king of the Jews. I find it fascinating that they would do such a thing. Yet, when they arrive at the house where the Christ child was they were so filled with joy that they went inside and saw the child and his mother, and they fell on their knees in worship. Then they presented their gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And they leave.

Their plan was to report back to Herod on their way home. Thank God they didn’t. It seems their visit was brief, just long enough to pay homage to the new king and deliver their gifts. I wonder if that very night both magi and Joseph dreamed of Herod’s evil plan and flee under cover of darkness.

No one likes a bad dream. But thank God for the one the magi had. They not only followed a star that led them to the Savior, they heeded the dream, not returning to Herod. And because of that, you and I have a Savior, one who would grow up to take our place on Calvary’s cross, dying for our sins, and rising again that all who believe in him might have forgiveness and eternal life. Glory be to God!


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