Greetings for Christmas and the New Year from Olivet Theological College and Seminary’s Dean Dr. Donald Tinder. Matthew's gospel in chapter two tells us of the visit to Palestine of the Magi ("Wise Men," astrologers who advised the rulers back then, and even today in parts of the world) from somewhere further east in Asia. These were gentiles, which shows that God intended all along for Jesus to be not just for Jews, but for all peoples.
Even so today Jesus is not just for those of Christian or Western background, but for the whole world. God reached them by His control of the heavenly bodies, even though they were interpreting this from their false religious perspective. This shows that God allows us to use various ways to communicate to others, even if others are receiving the message somewhat differently from how we are delivering it. And especially noteworthy is that the Magi did not find what they expected after their arduous journey. Jerusalem was utterly unaware of the royal birth they came so far to honor! Nevertheless, when they finally found the toddler Jesus in an ordinary house some time after His birth, they went ahead and worshipped him. Things might not work out for us this coming year at all as we expect. Nevertheless we are all called to worship the Lord. And the coming of the Magi was not without tragedy, as the cruel King Herod then slaughtered many young boys in hopes of destroying this potential rival.
Sadly, our world is still very violent, as the recent massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, demonstrates. But that should remind us of why God chose to let His Son come into this rebellious world, and that this little one that the Magi worshipped would one day suffer a violent death Himself. This happened in order that all who trust in Him, though we may suffer in this life, can be assured of eternal life in fellowship with God. So as we enter the New Year, with all its uncertainties, let's be sure to do so with the kind of amazing faith in God that these visitors from the east had.