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Persia, Magi and Jesus

December 15, 2011

This morning during my devotions and sermon preparation several streams came together that I found wonderful.  This Sunday is the 4th Sunday in Advent and among certain traditions the 4th candle represents God’s love symbolized by the Magi.  Traditionally, the Christian Church celebrates Epiphany (the arrival of the Magi at Jesus’ birth) on January 6th, but during the Advent season it is good to remember the principal actors in the nativity scene.  I still have memories of acting the role of one of the Three Wise men, wearing a bathrobe, in church nativity plays while growing up.

I’m afraid I never did justice for the Magi when acting out their role, because the Magi were a whole lot more than I knew as child.  The word “magi” is the plural of “margus” who were members of a hereditary priestly class among the ancient Medes and Persians.  They were most probably Zoroaster priests who had seen the star, knew that it portended something GREAT and set off to see over whom it hung.  Marco Polo wrote of his visit to Persia in 1218.  As I said, it was during my sermon prep time that several streams came together, so this isn’t just another Christmas blog.

Currently our local church is working through a study on the Post-Exilic community of Jews who left Persia to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. (cf. Ezra and Nehemiah”  As we know, first Cyrus and then Darius, Persian Kings, not only allowed but promoted the Temple reconstruction.  Then 520 years later, three more Persians come and worship the Christ, the corner-stone of the true Church such that all believers now become the Temple of the Holy Spirit.  So this Sunday as we celebrate Advent we ought to remember several things:

1.  The Church of Iran.  The Christian community in Iran is old and is currently being persecuted.  Be grateful for all that Persia has done for Israel and Jesus over the centuries.

2.  That Jesus is for everyone, no matter their socioeconomic, racial, or religious background.  He came for everyone.

3.  And that like the Magi’s example, Jesus is worth following after. Balak in Num. 24:16-17 writes of Him, “The utterance of him who hears the words of God, and has the knowledge of the Most High, who sees the vision of the Almighty, who falls down, with eyes wide open: “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel…

Enjoy this last week before the festivities of His birth, but let us keep in mind the nature of those that visited Jesus as we seek to glorify Him in our lives today.

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