I preached this weekend at the 5:00 PM services on Saturday and Sunday night. The text was Matthew 2:1-12, the story of the magi visiting Jesus.
After the Saturday night service, a man from the congregation asked about the historical basis for the story of the wise men. He pointed out that I spoke of the magi as actual visitors who came to see Jesus and that he was more interested in the allegorical meaning of the story. I said that I would be able to give a better response on my blog, so here goes.
Do I believe that there were actual magi that actually visited Jesus? I do. However, I do not think that the significance of the story is reduced if the magi and their visit to Jesus were not actual historical characters and events. The following information has been gleaned from books and commentaries
The gifts that were given to Jesus have symbolic significance:
- Gold – a gift that was fit for a king
- Frankincense – a type of incense representative of priesthood
- Myrrh – an oil used for embalming foreshadowing death and resurrection
The magi were not Jews (Thus, they were Gentiles) and they worship Jesus at the beginning of his life. This act foreshadows the final chapter of Matthew in which Jesus articulates a mission to all people of the world, Jews and Gentiles.
More information about the Biblical Magi
At the heart of this question may be one of how the Bible is properly interpreted. What do you think? Were there actual magi who visited Jesus? Does it matter?