One of Matthew's Favourite Stories

Matthew and his family and friends had been loyal Jews who were convinced that Jesus was the messianic saviour promised by the Old Testament prophets.

This was not a generally held opinion so he and his Jewish Christians were initially seen to be members of a minority sect within Judaism.

He wrote his account of what might have been called 'the Jesus event' in order to win over as many of his fellow Jews as he could while, at the same time, encouraging the Gentile world whose readiness to accept Jesus as their Divine Saviour was becoming more and more common place.

The story of the Magi served this latter purpose very well.

Matthew was of course familiar with what has now become the tradition of the three Gentile astrologists who followed the star to the shelter where the Christ Child was to be found.

The fact that they "adored" the new born king of the Jews whose kingship would one day be proclaimed on the slopes of Calvary, gave great significance to the narrative as did the contrast between King Herod’s duplicity and the simple good faith of the three priestly scientists.

What then was Matthew trying to say in his account of this event; an event not mentioned in the other gospels?

His main theme was the proclamation of Jesus having fulfilled all of the Old Testament prophesies. He wanted them to appreciate that this was an exciting time to be a Jew and that this spiritual epiphany, this manifestation of the Creator’s grand plan, though first entrusted to his beloved chosen people was now to be shared with the rest of humanity.

For a host of reasons, most people would not accept this but that did not make it any less true.

Thanks to Matthew, the living story of the Magi, that meant so much to him, has become one of our favourites too.

It is a story that has been embellished from time to time. For example, somewhere in the 8th century the 3 visitors, having already been accorded the honour of royalty, received names.

I suggest that we love this story because it provides us with a precious optic into the consciousness of a Creator God who loves us to the point of entrusting us with his own divine image ...Emmanuel, Jesus, and, who respects us so highly as to never violate his indelible stamp upon our souls …free will.

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