In the press before Christmas the Arch Bishop of Canterbury was quoted as saying that the story of the wise men coming to Bethlehem was 'a legend.' Now I am never fully trusting of newspapers reporting accurately or in context what a church leader has said. I read his comments online and whilst I disagreed with some of what he said I had on the other hand to agree with him when he said the following about this passage in Matthew:We are never told there were three magi (or wise men).
It never tells us their names - the three common names Melchior, Gasper and Balthasar - originated in the 7th Century AD.
Jesus was most likely over 1 year old when they arrived to see him and certainly by that stage not living in a stable.
If there is one thing that I had to agree with him it was that people do not read the Scriptures accurately to see what they actually say.
So this morning, on this feast of Epiphany, let us, together, look closely at Matthew 2 and as accurately as we can see what God says in His Word to us about these Magi coming to visit Christ Jesus.
Context - remember Matthew is written primarily to a Jewish audience - hence he refuses to speak of the 'kingdom of God' but of 'kingdom of heaven' as he, like all Jews of his day, would not dare even speak the name of God such was the reverence they held that name. Therefore it is amazing that Matthew tells this story of Magi (Gentiles) coming to worship the Christ child, whilst the religious leaders and political leaders of Judaism (priests and Herod) cannot even be bothered to journey with these Magi when they come looking...