Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The Magi and Magnificent Providence

I'm reading slowly through the Gospel of Matthew, wanting to "fix my eyes on Jesus...in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (Heb 12:2; Php 3:8). Matthew chapter 2 was up for today. I'm reading the ESV Study Bible notes along with the text, and I loved this comment on Matthew 2:11:
“The gifts were likely used providentially to support the family in their flight to Egypt.”
What a beautiful, providential provision for this peasant family! The magi from the east were doubtlessly wealthy. This was no haphazard little band of three guys on camels. Most likely they traveled in a large caravan of people and animals and supplies. If they came from Babylon, their trip was around 800 miles. Covering that distance would have taken over 40 days. These dignified magi would not have popped up a couple of Coleman tents each night. A small nomadic camp would have to be set up, meals prepared, and precautions taken in protection from thieves. This was probably an impressive entourage. Consider how quickly they gained face time with Herod the King upon arrival. 

All this to say, when they showed up at the door in Bethlehem, it’s hard to imagine their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh totaling a cheap token. These gifts "were likely used providentially to support the family" while they were refugees in Egypt, possibly longer. 

We don’t know how old Jesus was when Joseph died, but perhaps this providential gift served his poor widow and son. Imagine the thoughts when Mary took a few more myrrh beads or frankincense tears from the pouch to exchange at the market. “Great men traveled great distances to offer these costly gifts and to worship my son. My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. He has exalted those of humble estate. He has filled the hungry with good things." (cf. Luke 1:46-53)

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