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Wiseman – Christ

Scripture Focus: Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1-12
For many of us who celebrate Advent, the fifth candle that we light on Christmas Eve is known as the Christ Candle. It’s meant to bring us to the end of our four-week journey. My Advent prayer is that we have examined our lives and made to room to receive Jesus the Christ, the rightful King of the entire cosmos, anew. The good news of this event still speaks to all of us today.
I grew up in the church. I’ll admit to you, that as a young boy and even into adulthood, whenever I heard the preacher mention Jesus Christ, I assumed that Christ was his last name. It wasn’t until much later in my own spiritual formation that I came to understand that Christ was a title. The title Christ denotes that Jesus was (and is) God’s anointed, the chosen one. He was (and is) Israel’s Messiah. Because of that, he is also the world’s rightful Lord and King. The Kingdom of the Heavens, then, although from another place, is definitely for this place. Of course, the Holy Spirit illuminated the hearts of Jesus’ followers to see how mysterious and scandalous reality was. The Messiah, the Chosen One, the Christ, was none other than God himself. So, when John penned that the eternal Word of God put on flesh and dwelt among us, he was signaling that a new day was now upon us. This event is to be experienced, known and shared!
This story of course, introduces us to another group of important individuals that point us to the Christ: The Wise Men (or Magi) from the East. They are often a part of the symbols, sights and sounds of our Advent and Christmas celebration, but we know very little about them, however, what we do know, is of great importance. Matthew gives us this insight into their extraordinary visit to Jesus:
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Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, the departed to their own country another way.”
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Church tradition has often told this story by suggesting that there were at least three wise men who visited Jesus. They even have names: Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar. Here then, in these few verses, does the Magi’s visit take on a significant light. Not only was Jesus Christ Israel’s King, he was (and is) King of the Gentiles as well. That these Gentile worshipers of Jesus could interpret the stars in the sky and know that something extraordinary was breaking into the world, points us to that the Kingship of Jesus is for both near and far! And what of the gifts they gave him? Well, they tell the story of the kind of king Jesus was to be. A noble, royal, serving and suffering king. To borrow from The Nativity Story again: “The gift of gold for the King of all kings, the gift frankincense, for the Priests of all priests and the gift of myrrh, to honor the sacrifice.” The gifts point us the person and work of Christ and our need for his kingship, intercession and redemption. The arrival of Jesus is nothing short of a cosmic renewal! Including a recapturing of what it means to be fully human and free in God’s good world.
Pastor Greg Goebel gives some great insight into the what the candle the Christ Candle represent: The light that the Son brought into the world when he was born a little baby, God in the flesh. The fact that the Advent candles remain on Christmas Eve puts the focus on this special moment of birth, the moment of transition from prophecy to fulfillment. On Christmas Day and the Christmas Sundays, the Advent candles are usually removed, but the Christ Candle remains. This reminds us that old things have passed away, and all has been made new. The Christ Candle represents the work of Christ to us, our light in the darkness though his birth, life, death, and resurrection.
This Advent, as you light your Christ candle, think of these Wise Men, their gifts that point to who Jesus is for us. Jesus, the Christ, born of a virgin in the City of David, is the fulfillment of the prophecies past and is a very real King in a very real cosmos. He is the light that continues to shine in the darkness.
Pastor Mario Alejandre