Epiphany + Matthew 2:1-12
We don’t know where they came from, these wise men from the East, who came to Jerusalem to worship Jesus.
We do not know if there were three of them, or a dozen, or if the color of their skin was black, brown or yellow, or if their names were Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar.
This is all speculation. But one thing we do know, the wise men from the East represent a longing for God that exists in all people.
All over the world, people believe in Jesus as the Son of God, true God and true man, born of the Virgin Mary, and like the wise men who offered gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, they offer sacrifices and prayer to God.
They attend worship services, they believe that God is the Creator of all things, that He holds power and dominion over all things. They give Him all thanks, praise, service and obedience.
Since the creation of the world, there have been those who have sought God and asked how they achieve a right kind of relationship with Him.
This is one of the reasons people have studied the skies, the sun, the moon, the stars and the constellations.
They hoped to be able to to find God and interpret His ways by studying how the sun sets and rises, how the planets move, and when and where various star constellations appear.
For centuries, astrologers and astronomers have been able to map with precise accuracy, the movements of the heavenly bodies, for the exact purpose of finding and understanding God.
We know, that at the time of Jesus’ birth, something uncommon and remarkable happened in the heaven, among the constellations. The heavenly maps show us that the sun and the moon and the stars and the planets all lined up perfectly, to make known the birth of a king, or a leader, who would usher in a new era, a new beginning.
We see with the birth of Jesus, the Savior of the world, lying in a manger, in a stable, in the city of Bethlehem, that even the heavens and all of creation make Him known to the world.
As the hymn sings: Joy to the world, the Lord has come! Let earth receive her King! Let heaven and nature sing! Let heaven and nature sing! Let heaven and nature sing!
The wise men from the East don’t just give us an example of men longing for God, desiring to see God, that they would worship Him rightly, they also show us their ability to see a sign in the heavens and follow it.
God used the star in the heavens to lead the wise men to Jerusalem and then to Bethlehem, to find Jesus, who is God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God.
God used a star to lead the wise men from them East to meet the God who came down from heaven to earth, to bring the gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation to a sinful and fallen world.
God came from the unknown to the known to make Himself known to all people, to all nations.
The God who created all people and all things in six, twenty-four hour days, also created a longing in us, that we would know and see and believe in Him.
God the Father, loved the whole world, and He sent His only Son down from heaven to earth, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.
God desires to make disciples, followers, believers of all nations, baptizing us in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching us to obey everything He has commanded and taught, that we would be confident that He is with us always, now and forever.
This is the promise of God that answers all of our questions. We do not need to study the stars or read our horoscope, we have God who became man, born of the Virgin Mary, who is our Lord and Savior. Jesus makes all things known. He is the Way, the Truth and the LIfe.
We have the Word of God, contained in the pages of the Bible, to enlighten our faith in God’s grace and mercy; that we would be at peace. We hold God’s Word sacred, gladly hearing it and learning it. It is preached and taught in this place, in all of its truth and purity. It condemns us in our sin. It saves us in forgiveness.
We have the waters of Holy Baptism. Baptism works the forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe the words and promises of God, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
We have the Lord’s Supper. Here we get to eat and drink the body and blood of Christ contained in the bread and wine. Here we get to participate in the birth, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. Here, we get to taste and see that the Lord is good, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love toward us.
It is these gifts of God, His holy Word and blessed Sacraments, that we cannot live without; they are our hope and comfort and strength. In them we get to see and hear Jesus; the Light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of the people of Israel.
Like the star that called and lighted the way to where Jesus was, God’s Word preached and taught and His Sacraments received, call us and gather us to where Jesus is.
We do not just seek God, He calls and gathers us. He invites us into His presence, where He promises to be. We do not have to go to Jerusalem or Bethlehem to find Jesus, He is here, in this place, in this church. Here, Jesus speaks to us from the pulpit and lectern, He washes us at the font, He feeds us at the altar.
And just as the wise men spared no cost and no effort to find Jesus, so too today, we spare no cost and no effort to share and make known Jesus to all people, of every language, nationality and race. We eagerly pray that our neighbors, near and far, would receive the same gifts of Jesus that we have; that together, we would know true peace.
During this season of Epiphany, this season of light, the Light no darkness can overcome, we do not hide the light of Christ under a basket that no one can see it, we let it shine brightly for all the world to see. In the name of +Jesus. Amen.