Different Symbols

Matthew 2.9-12; CEB. When [the magi] heard [Herod] the king, they went; and look, the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stood over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy. They entered the house and saw the child with Mary his mother. Falling to their knees, they honored him. Then they opened their treasure chests and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Because they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back to their own country by another route.

This passage was part of my reading this morning. I have seen things today that I hadn’t noticed before. Let me share with you what I saw.

First, this is a very well known story; that of the Magi. We sing their song every Christmas. They’re in every nativity play and scene during the holy day holiday season. The importance of this is that the Magi were not Jews. More about this in a moment.

Second, notice that “the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them.” This is where it starts getting good! That phrase “went ahead of them” sparked my memory. This is the same language used when referring to god leading the children of Israel through the wilderness (see Deuteronomy 1.33; cf. Exodus 13.21).

What’s crucial about this passage, though, is that it’s referring to people outside of the nation of Israel. That means they were (at the least) Gentiles or (at the most) pagans. But the passage shows that god chose and used symbols that they would understand. God didn’t use the same symbols used for the Exodus. God used the appropriate symbols - symbols that meant something to Magi - to lead the people to godself.

What this is saying to me is there’s more than one way to god. The passage clearly shows that god led these people to Christ through a different means, a different way, than others.

But notice the actions were the same. God led and guided them through their own practices, using their own symbols. And their response was the same - they met Christ, they knelt and “honored” him, or as the King James puts it, “they fell down and worshipped him.” This shows that, while the symbols may be different, The Way of a life with god is the same.

In the Love of the Three in One,

Br. Jack+, LC


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