6 January 2017

Matthew 2:1-12

“On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage.” (v. 11)

Psalm: Psalm 72


The Christmas stories of Jesus work at different levels, drawing us in and intriguing us with wonder and mystery. They are first and foremost stories, and it helps to think through the context in which they were written. The early Church didn't hear the story of Wise Men from the East as evidence that Jesus was special. It was the other way around. They knew Jesus was special and so they told stories about his birth.

Look back to Colossians 1:15-20! From very early in the Church's growth people who knew Jesus as the son of a carpenter were speaking of him as the "image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15). Or look at John's Gospel about Jesus being "the Word of God" (John 1:1-18). Their conversation about Jesus, crucified and risen, was already stretching their minds into places that must have been hard for them to go. From such an overwhelming sense of who Jesus was, stories of his birth were told. They are stories that hold truth that simply cannot be told in another way. We can't 'get to the meaning of them' without destroying the meaning, we can only hear them and enjoy them. They are theological stories in that they hold meaning about the nature of God that had been revealed in the teaching and ministry of Jesus.

Today we probably want to ask modern questions of such a story: Is it true? Did it happen in exactly this way? Were there really three wise men?'. But these questions spoil the story. It is meant to be entered into and not taken apart. Children probably do this better than adults and their wonder at ancient texts may inspire us to also worship the Christ child.

To Ponder

  • As you read again this account, what phrase or word strikes you?
  • As you think of that word or phrase, of what does it remind you in today's world or in your life?
  • In the light of that, what might you say to God?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Mark Wakelin

Mark Wakelin was born in Norfolk and taken to Africa as a baby by missionary parents. He was the President of the Methodist Conference 2012/2013, and before that worked for the Connexional Team, as the secretary for internal relationships. He is now the minster at Epsom Methodist Church.

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