How far will we go?

How far will we go?
By Rev. Kerry Smith
January 6 is a big day in the Christian church. But, that date now has additional meaning for us because as Americans we know that date. January 6 is the day that we celebrate the arrival of the magi. They were astrologers from the East  who brought three gifts to the newborn king. They teach us about authority and kingship and who wields power.

Matthew 2:11 says, "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."

Power shows up in an unlikely place, in a baby named Jesus. Much significance is made of the gifts that are given. Gold is said to symbolize Jesus as King, frankincense Jesus as Son of God, and myrrh Jesus as human because it is used for the anointing that will happen at his death.

The Bible doesn't tell us a lot about the magi. They are only mentioned in Matthew's Gospel and we don't know their names or even how many there were. Christian tradition assumes that there were three because there were three gifts. Western tradition also gives the magi names: Gaspar (or Caspar), Melchior, and Balthasar. One popular legend has portrayed Caspar as a king of India, Melchior as a king of Persia, and Balthazar as a king of Arabia. There is a Greek manuscript from the year 500 in Alexandria, Egypt, that names the magi these names. Eastern tradition gives the magi different names. Syrian Christians call them Larvandad, Gushnasaph, and Hormisdas. Ethiopians call them them Hor, Karsudan, and Basanater, and Armenians call them Kagpha, Badadakharida, and Badalilma.

The Bible is fascinating!  After Jesus' birth, the first story in Matthew's Gospel tells of the visit of the magi. It seems like the Gospel writer wants us to know that people came from far away to spend time with Jesus and honor him.  How far are we willing to go to spend time with Jesus and honor him? 

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