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December 10, 2012
The narrative by Matthew is a curious inversion, a rotated glance into reality—as if the story were being played out behind Alice's looking glass. It would be, that is, were we to remove the supernatural element.
These were men of standing, of reputation. Why would they have displayed such reverence toward a peasant girl's child? While it was not uncommon for visitors in the orient to proffer gifts, these would normally have been for someone considered a superior. Why would the magi have considered Jesus a superior?
There is an almost cinematic feeling to this episode in which three strangers travel from a distant land to kneel before a new and foreign king. It is as if Jesus, while still in His mother's womb, exerted some powerful force that drew the wise men to where He would be. Traveling possibly hundreds of miles, across desert and alien terrain, they came in search of someone of whom only the stars and prophetic texts spoke.
What was their purpose? Beyond simply confirming their quest, what was their purpose in coming to the child Jesus?