2012-01-07 - Epiphany
Today, many Christians observe the "Feast of the Epiphany," which is the celebration of the Incarnation or Manifestation of Jesus Christ. Epiphany ends the "twelve days of Christmas" which ? contrary to common belief ? actually begins on December 25th. This celebration commemorates the birth and baptism of Jesus. Epiphany also denotes the visit of the Magi, or Wise Men, who came to worship the infant Jesus.
The Magi have been described as astrologers, astronomers, priests or kings. The term Magi is derived from magos, a Persian religious group, which paid attention to the stars. The wise men visiting Jesus were probably from Persia or southern Arabia, which were both to the East of Bethlehem. 1
Matthew 2:1 tells us "the Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, `Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the East and have come to worship him.'" (NIV) They came bearing gifts for the child Jesus. They presented Jesus with gold, incense, and myrrh. Because the wise men gave three gifts, some have assumed there were three Magi. But Matthew does not tell an actual number of wise men. These travelers were also the first Gentiles, or non-Jews, to acknowledge Jesus and to pay Him respect.
The wise men's presents were the offerings ordinarily given to a king. The gold signified kingship. Incense was a perfume. Myrrh was used as an anointing oil. The Magi were honoring Jesus as King.
What gifts do we present to Jesus today? Do we give Him our time, talents, energy, and devotion? Do we give Him our best? How can we honor Him today?