The three wise men has become an iconic story of the Christmas season in America and around the world. It is depicted in children's story books and sung about in carols. And as such, some of the abrasive nature of the original story has been lost. Let me explain...
The Jews were waiting expectantly for their Messiah, and as an oppressed people, their coming savior was supposed to cast off the gentile oppressors and liberate the Jewish nation. You can imagine when the first Jews read Matthew's account of the Gospel, and the Messiah was largely missed by Israel and instead the first worshipers came from pagan nations, eyebrows were raised. 'These admirers are the wrong race,' people would have thought. And they would have been wrong.
You see, God is not a racist. His choice of the Jewish nation, all the way back to the beginning was for the sake of bringing His salvation to ALL NATIONS. Gen 12:1-3 recounts God's call of Abram, and the stated goal of that call was that through him, all peoples, all families on earth would be blessed. The Jewish people over the centuries had unfortunately largely missed it. They had fallen into the 'Jonah Trap', which is the desire for God to pour out His mercy on everyone, except them. And so they were unprepared to be able to receive the Messiah for all peoples.
May we who are the Messiah's people today not make the same mistake. May we recognize that the church doesn't exist for the church, but we are a people that is called to exist for the outsider. We are, as Bp. Todd Hunter says, a 'church for the sake of others.'
Our orientation has been forever bent outward, by the greatest Wise Man to ever live. Who made the longest, darkest journey that has ever been trod. To lay down the greatest gift that has ever been given. For a group of outsiders that didn't deserve His presence. We were those outsiders if we have received the faith of Christ. And Jesus is that greatest of wise men. Let us follow our Messiah outside the walls of the church, and together, be a 'church for the sake of others.'
Author: Cameron Lemons
Reflections from the pastor