Advent Week 4 | The Promise for All Peoples: The Journey of the Magi

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him,


“In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”


Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 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. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
—MATTHEW 2:1-12


The Promise for All Peoples

Magi were men trained in astrology, dream interpretation, and other mysteries. They studied the sky and knew the stars and their significance. The Magi mentioned in Matthew 2 lived in the East (probably near Persia) but we do not know their exact identity and origin.

What we do know is that they were not Jews—they were Gentiles. It is possible that these men heard of the promised Savior from Jews residing in their land during the Babylonian captivity. When they saw the star signifying His birth, they left their home for Jerusalem, embarking on a journey to find the newborn King and worship Him. At least two things are striking about the events that unfold in Matthew 2. The first is that these men were Gentiles. They were not of Israel, not descendants of Abraham. The birth of the promised Messiah shouldn’t matter to them. The second is that God was the One who announced the birth of His Son to the Gentile world. God appointed a star to herald the news of His coming. God set that star in the sight of these Magi. God used that star to lead them to His Son so they could worship Him as the rightful King.

“In the same way God set a star in the sky to lead the Magi to Jesus, He places His children in their neighborhoods, workplaces, PTA meetings, and lecture halls to do the same.”

This scene in the Advent narrative whispers of an incredible mercy—God reveals His Son and extends salvation to the nations. Men and women from every people, tribe, and tongue will taste the honey-like sweetness of Jesus’ name upon their lips, confessing Him as Lord and worshiping Him as King.

In the same way God set a star in the sky to lead the Magi to Jesus, He places His children in their neighborhoods, workplaces, PTA meetings, and lecture halls to do the same. You don’t have to go overseas to impact the nations. God brings them to our doorstep—refugees, international students, those in search of greater opportunities and freedom. The nations may very well live next door. Being part of God’s global purposes may be as simple as reaching out to people He has placed in your everyday life. Or it may be that you go to the ends of the earth and happily herald the Good News to those who have never heard it.

The world is big, and the gospel is not an American idea. The gospel has been proclaimed to us too; the mercy of God extended to the Gentiles means that mercy has been extended to us. The story of the Magi stirs our hearts to look beyond our familiar comforts and remember that it is our joyful duty to bring that gospel to all nations. We want to be a part of what God is doing as He continues to draw men, women, and children from all nations to come and worship His Son.


Read Psalm 86:9. What promise do you see in this verse? What reassurance does the story of the Magi give us about the spreading of the gospel? How should the story challenge us as those who are called to tell the Good News?

Read Ephesians 2:11-17. In this passage, who are “those who were far off ”? Are people in foreign countries farther off from the gospel than you were when you first heard it?

What is the primary means God uses to make disciples of all nations? How can you actively take the gospel to all nations in the upcoming year?