O Lord of hosts, happy is everyone who trusts in you. Psalm 84:12
When the wise men saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Matthew 2:10-11.
Today is Epiphany, January 6. Or the twelfth day of Christmas. Epiphany means a sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something. Or an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure. (Merriam Webster) It can mean a manifestation of a divine or supernatural being (Oxford Language) and it is this that we talk about at Epiphany. We celebrate this as the time when the Magi arrived to see Jesus. Not just some local shepherds with a few sheep, or pious Jews at the temple, but people coming from another culture.
The wise men had spent their lives studying the skies. Then they saw something remarkable, a new star they had not seen, one that was bright and portended the birth of a king. They happily took off on their journey following this star. It led them to a small town, where it stopped. They were “overwhelmed” with joy when the star stopped. They had finally reached the end of their journey and could finally see this king. Wonder what they thought when they found this baby, in a plain house, nothing fancy, no palace. His parents certainly weren’t royalty. Was this really the king they had travelled all this way to see? Yet the Magi recognized this baby’s kingship. They were joyful and also humble as they knelt to pay homage to the child.
God had to have made them aware of the importance of this birth. They weren’t even part of the Jewish culture, although they must have been aware that a Messiah, a king was predicted. The psalmist tells us that everyone is happy when they trust in the Lord. The Magi had trust in what the star meant, however they perceived God, and God must have blessed their journey. The Magi are the first Gentiles in the story of Jesus, who of course was sent to be a savior for all people everywhere. As they followed the star, generations of people have been led to follow Jesus the savior into a life of joyfulness and happiness and service.
“As with gladness men of old Did the guiding star behold. As with joy they hailed its light Leading onward, beaming bright. So, most gracious God may we Evermore be led to thee.” (Epiphany hymn, Conrad Kocher, 1786-18