Two Men and the Magi

Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace. Amen

We are three weeks into the gospel of Matthew and Joseph, husband of Mary keeps showing up.

Two weeks ago, on December 23rd Pastor Torgerson preached about the birth of Jesus told from the perspective of Joseph. Pastor Torgerson spoke about Joseph as a righteous man and how by doing the right thing, Joseph expressed righteousness in a new way.

Matthew 2:1-23

Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace. Amen

We are three weeks into the gospel of Matthew and Joseph, husband of Mary keeps showing up.

Two weeks ago, on December 23rd Pastor Torgerson preached about the birth of Jesus told from the perspective of Joseph. Pastor Torgerson spoke about Joseph as a righteous man and how by doing the right thing, Joseph expressed righteousness in a new way.

Last week, in chapter 1 we find out that Joseph is the last name in a genealogy that spans 42 generations. A genealogy that begins with Abraham and ends in the birth of Jesus, son of Joseph, husband to Mary

Joseph shows up again in today’s reading along with the wise men from the east and a character named Herod. Two men and the magi. Sounds like a title to a bad tv show doesn’t it.

Which one of these characters are you drawn to in today’s story?

What character captures your imagination with an invitation to reflect on your life today?

Is it the Magi, the wise men? Followers of the star shining in the east as they seek the new king.

This is the perfect guy road trip; they don’t really know where they are going and they don’t have to follow specific directions. Just a star in the east.

The magi are mostly known by the Xmas carol “We Three Kings’ even though the text doesn’t specifically say there were three of them or that they were Kings.

What I like about the wise men is that they were curious about what was happening with this new star in the east and they wanted to meet this new infant king. Plus they were outsiders. By their visit, Jesus is being revealed to the wider world.

Their visit raises some questions for me.

Their visit invites reflection on my part.

Am I spiritually curious like the magi? Am I seeking out ways to not only find Jesus but to worship him? Am I practicing my faith would be another way to say it?

Notice what they do when they arrive at the house and finally find what they have been seeking. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11 On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts.

Men of this congregation, when was the last time you were overwhelmed with joy in relationship to Jesus?

When was the last time you knelt down in homage to the new born king?

What gifts do you bring and are you willing to offer them to Jesus?

I’m not trying to exclude the women from these questions but I am convicted by what the wise men do and their response to Jesus and I think men need to pay attention to what is happening here in this story.

Far too many men think they have no need for living a spiritually based life.

Far too many men think they are better off going it alone.

Far too many men are unwilling to open their hearts up to the new born king.

Herod is a perfect example of this unwillingness and there is a reason Matthew includes him in the story. Herod is the antithesis of Joseph.

Herod worshipped himself.

All he cared about was himself.

All he was interested in was power, his own power and he would stop at nothing in order to maintain that power.

As a result of his spiritual blindness he lived in fear and he generously shared that fear with others. He was not a righteous man.

He tries to manipulate the wise men to be spies for him but God warns them in a dream about Herod’s intentions and when Herod finds out he had been tricked he kills all the children under two years of age.

Herod’s spiritual bankruptcy is a reminder to us all, especially we men, that living our lives in fear, in anger and in trying to control everything is not what it means to be a righteous man and there is no joy in this kind of life.

One of the things Pastor Torgerson said in her sermon two weeks ago about Joseph has stuck with me and it applies to what we read about today.

She said about Joseph. And I quote; “In his compassion, willingness to risk, and attentiveness to the new thing God does, we see that Joseph is indeed righteous.”

Look at what happens. Pay attention to what Joseph does.

When he comes to a blind spot. When he has exhausted his own resources and doesn’t know where to turn. He stops and he listens to God and this is when God speaks to him and this is when God directs his path. He doesn’t try and go it alone. This is a big deal.

Now after the wise men had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt.

Talk about risk. This is where faith meets life.

Joseph’s responsibilities to Mary and Jesus must have been constantly on his mind and it is when he is out of ideas – when he is unsure of what to do next – when he needs help and guidance – God speaks to him and tells him what to do.

Are we paying attention to what is going on here?

Joseph would have known about Herod and I’ll bet you that Joseph would not have thought that going to Egypt was a good idea. He couldn’t have come up with that idea on his own.

Egypt? Why would I go there? It took Moses 40 years to cross the Sinai Peninsula.

What Joseph perhaps doesn’t fully understand yet is that God has a plan and Joseph is part of the plan.

We know Joseph is a righteous man.

We know that his understanding of what it means to be righteous is to be open to new things. To trust that God has a plan and to trust that God is in control.

Is it possible for us men to understand that in terms of our own relationship with God? To model and understand righteousness like Joseph practiced it.

The move to Nazareth plays out the same way as the move to Egypt. Maybe Joseph wanted to go back to Jerusalem or even Bethlehem. Be near the big city or his home town.

When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, 20 “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.”  22 But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. 23 There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.”

Interesting isn’t it how God directs Joseph’s path and Joseph, being a righteous man, listens and obeys. His obedience is part of God’s plan. Our obedience is part of God’s plan.

God wants to take us places. God wants us to offer up our gifts and use us in this world.

God wants to direct our paths in ways we cannot conceive or even imagine.

And when we seek to live a righteous life.

When we give our lives over to the sovereign power of God.

God promises to lead us in the right path.

To a place where we can bow down and worship the new born king.

To a place where we will have true joy. And to a place where we can truly offer our gifts and lead a righteous life. Thanks be to God. Amen

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