GodSpeak for the Week after The Epiphany of Our Lord – beginning January 6
With Christmas behind us, we now turn to Epiphany – and the arrival on the scene of the Wise Men. This story is most familiar. Yet, through a painting entitled Adoration of the Magi (1660), by Bartolome Esteban Murillo, we’re challenged by something very important, as we move from Christmas into the New Year.
Day 1…Read Matthew 2:1-12
- Consider this – the word Matthew uses to define the Wise Men (Greek = “magos”) refers to ANY kind of teacher, priest, doctor, astrologer, et. al. from Middle Eastern countries of the day.
- Consider this – notice…these men WERE NOT from Israel/Judah (i.e., they were NOT from God’s chosen people)!
Consider this – we know how King Herod (i.e., God’s own leader of His people) will ultimately react to the birth of the Savior.
- Answer this – why do foreign dignitaries travel as far as they do to honor and worship a baby born in a backwater place, like Bethlehem – while God’s own chosen king won’t do the same?
- What does Herod’s reaction versus that of the Wise Men say about human nature?
Day 2…Read Matthew 2:1-2
- Consider this – the first “king”/Wise Man we consider is a man traditionally identified as Caspar.
- Consensus leans towards the notion that he was from India and was either a scholar or some kind of treasurer (as his name means “treasurer” in old, eastern languages).
- Consider this – tradition also notes that Caspar brought Jesus the gift of frankincense (literally, incense – which was a gift often given as an honor to gods).
- Answer this – so, what would have been significant about Caspar’s gift to the baby Jesus?
- What did it say about Caspar’s honor given to Jesus?
Day 3…Read Matthew 2:1-2
- Consider this – the second “king”/Wise Man we consider is a man traditionally identified as Balthazar.
- Tradition says he was the King of Arabia.
- Consider this – tradition also notes that Caspar brought Jesus the gift of myrrh to Christ (an ointment, which was often used in embalming) ☹
- Answer this – if Caspar’s gift represented Jesus’ divinity, what does Balthazar’s odd baby gift of embalming ointment represent?
Day 4…Read Matthew 2:1-2
- Consider this – the final “king”/Wise Man we consider is a man traditionally identified as Melchior.
- Tradition says he was the King of Persia (or, a very respected scholar in Persia at the time).
- Tradition also says he lived the longest of the three, dying at the ripe old age of 116 sometime around 54 A.D. – some 20 years after the death and resurrection of Christ!
- Consider this – tradition also notes that Melchior brought Jesus the gift of gold (i.e., the most valuable of earthly gifts).
- Answer this – taken as a whole (i.e., as all three gifts together), what do the Wise Men’s offerings say about THEIR devotion and sacrifice to Jesus compared to that of Jesus’ OWN PEOPLE (i.e., King Herod and other wise people at the time)?
- Why did three men from far away take the time and sacrifice such valuables for an infant, while God’s own people did nothing of the sort?
Day 5…LOOK at the picture Adoration of the Magi (1660), by Bartolome Esteban Murillo [above]
- Consider this – Caspar and Balthazar definitely look IN THE DIRECTION of Jesus…
- …but, notice how Murillo depicts Melchior.
- Answer this – what is Melchior doing specifically that neither Caspar or Balthazar do?
- What do these details about Melchior’s posture and position do to inform us about our faith in our Newborn King?
Day 6…LOOK AGAIN at Murillo’s picture.
- Consider this – notice where Melchior has placed his prized gold!
- This treasure rests at the base of the manger in which Christ is.
- It’s virtually out of sight (i.e., out of mind, too???)
- Answer this – what in your life do you value now, which needs to be placed at Christ’s feet and put out of sight in order to give full attention to Christ?