This short essay is taken from the book, The Incarnation and the Exultation: An Advent Devotional. This devotional reflects on the scriptures of incarnation and exaltation in order to take you on a journey of thoughtful self-reflection. It is meant to draw you more deeply into the mystery of Christ’s coming into the world to help you walk your own inner path toward the season of Christmas. As you celebrate the coming of Christ into your lives during Advent and spend time reflecting on the readings in this devotional, may the light and love that entered our world lead you to the cross in wonder and thanksgiving. May you find joy and discover strength as you walk this wondrous journey to Bethlehem, always holding within your heart the image of the Hill of Calvary and the hope of the Age to come when Christ will return to call his people home!
Key Verse of Incarnation and Exaltation: 2:11 – …and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
Another magnificent chapter of the Christmas story is the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus. They observed a "star" in the east and knew it was a holy sign from heaven that announced the birth of a great king. Tradition tells us there were three Magi. In most artistic depictions, they are of different races, from areas outside of Palestine.
They were "wise men" – acquainted with ancient writings, most likely even the Jewish writings. Matthew's story hints at this through their encounter with the evil King Herod. We know that God communicated with them to turn them away from this madman, who later sought to kill the new Messiah. The Magi were the first Gentiles God called to witness the birth of the Son of God. Their encounter with King Jesus was a foretaste of the Gospel's spread to the whole world.
Just what this star was has been debated by scholars through the ages. Some believe it was an alignment of planetary bodies. Others believe it was a comet. Matthew, who presented Jesus as the new Moses, understood that the appearance of the great light mirrored the fiery presence of Yahweh in the wilderness, the light that led the nation of Israel to the Promised Land. A new light was coming to reveal the Savior to the entire world, the One who would lead all humanity to the Promised Land of heaven. This light pointed the way to the very place where the child and his family were staying. It led the Magi there so they could bear witness to God's coming to the earth on behalf of all mankind.
The gifts of the Magi had a deep and rich spiritual meaning. Gold was a symbol of royalty and the purity of this newborn King. Frankincense pointed to the priestly function of the Messiah who would one day offer himself as the perfect sacrifice for all the world. And Myrrh was symbolic of the agony and death that this great prophet would suffer after bringing his message to the people. These men understood that this was no ordinary king but a King who was also Priest and Prophet – the ruler, the presider over the sacrifice, and the sacrifice himself!
Prayer: God of heaven, I praise you for revealing your great love to us in the incarnation of your Son, Jesus. May the wisdom that spoke Christ into the world turn my life into a shining testimony of love to lead others into your presence…Amen!
Star shines brightly, Sacred Godhead,
Fills the sky with radiant light,
Perfect peace and Holy Power,
Bringing day to darkest night.