Advent Week 1
Advent Week 1
This week we’ll be exploring the first tenet of Advent Conspiracy, Worship Fully, by looking at the story of the Wise Men. This story is unique to Matthew’s Gospel, which, of the four gospels, focuses on Jesus as the Messiah and highlights Jesus’ fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Matt. 2:1-12 is slammed with things pointing to Jesus as the Messiah; we see prophecy from Micah 5:2 quoted here in v.6, the promised star of Jacob (Numbers 24:17), and a ton of other imagery, including gifts given to a Jewish king (1 Kings 10:22), homage paid by foreigners (Psalm 72:10, Isaiah 60:3), and even the specific gifts of gold and frankincense (Isaiah 60:6). Especially to a Jewish audience, this passage is practically yelling, “The Messiah is here!!”
Which is really interesting, because the wise men weren’t Jewish. They were magi, a Persian term used for astrologers and magicians from Western Asia. They didn’t necessarily worship the Jewish God, and they most certainly didn’t abide by the Jewish law. So what in the world are they doing in this passage? And why in the world would God speak directly to these outsiders through astrology and dreams?
This was in part to fulfill the prophecy that the Messiah would be visited and worshipped by foreigners. This points backwards in time, to when foreigners monarchs would come to pay homage to Jewish Kings (1 Kings 10:22), and it points forward in time, to when Gentiles would be adopted into the family of God. This was also in part to pronounce judgement on Israel, considering foreigners recognized their king when they didn’t. This calls to mind prophecy from Isaiah 28:11, “For by people of strange lips and with a foreign tongue the Lord will speak to this people.” In this we can see a comparison of skepticism and true worship. Later in Jesus’ life Jewish leaders demanded a sign from heaven to prove he was the Messiah, even after he had healed the sick and fed the 5,000 (Mark 8:11-13). And yet here are these wise men who thought a weird star was proof enough to travel for months and give hugely expensive gifts, all to worship King Jesus.
In these season of Advent, it’s helpful for us to reflect on how we can grow in our worship. All of us hold something back from Jesus, some corner of our life or our budget. This is a process worked out as the Holy Spirit sanctifies us, in which we give ourselves over to him completely. Jesus is worthy of our entire lives, and with every square inch of our life given over to him, we profess that to ourselves and others. Looking at the wise men, it’s interesting to note that Jesus, being God, already owned the gold and frankincense and myrrh given to him. And yet their gifts were honored. Similarly, as we give over our lives in worship, we aren’t rendering to God anything that doesn’t already belong to him.
Questions for Discussion
• Could someone read Matthew 2:1-12 for us?
• What stood out to you from this passage?
• Why do you think God included these wise men in the story of Jesus?
• What do you think this passage tells us about God and/or Jesus?
• How would you describe the way the wise men worshipped Jesus?
• What can this passage teach us about worshipping Jesus fully?
• What are some ways you would like to grow in worshipping Jesus fully this Advent?