Week 3: Upside-Down God

A Year With Jesus: Matthew 2:1-12

One of the most eye-opening teachings I ever heard regarding the Wise Men (or Magi, as they’re called) came from Summit’s very own Zach Van Dyke this past Christmas season. I had heard the standard points before: There was an unknown number of Magi, not three as the Nativity scene implies (that rumor probably started because they brought three gifts with them). And, speaking of the Nativity scene, the Magi shouldn’t even be there. They arrived at the house where Mary and Joseph were staying months and months later. But here’s something I hadn’t really considered:

The Magi were “outsiders” to the faith. They were astrologers, and astrology was clearly forbidden in the Old Testament. They believed in signs and omens. They were people that “good church people” would shake their heads and wag their fingers at. And yet God met them where they were. He spoke to them in a language they could understand (a star in a sky). And these outsiders became one of the first people (second only to lowly, dirty, stinky shepherds) to worship Jesus.

Meanwhile, Herod, the King of Judea, goes into a jealous rage and concocts a plan to kill Jesus. The Wise Men want no part of it and give Herod the slip, which, as we’ll cover next week, sends Herod into an even angrier rage and leads to one of the saddest parts of the story.

And so Jesus hasn’t even uttered a word yet (except for maybe some cute baby gurgles) and already he is turning the world upside down. As Matthew continues his story, this theme plays out again and again. A few chapters later, Jesus will give his first public sermon and give the people a completely new way of looking at the law. And we’ll see that the “good church people” of the day often find themselves on the outside of Jesus’ ministry. Not because Jesus puts them there, but because that’s where they decide they want to be. And yet the “outsiders” are often the ones who accept Jesus’ invitation.

I think Christians (of which I am one) sometimes put God in a box. We know the way he communicates with people. We know what outsiders look like. We know what insiders look like. We know what outsiders look like when they are ready to be insiders. And we know exactly how we are to reach them. And yet, God broke all the expectations when he put that star in the sky to guide the Magi.

As we saw from the beginning of Matthew, Jesus came for all people. This includes people who we think are too “out there” to ever come to Jesus.

Questions to Ponder:

Have you ever felt like an “outsider” around Christians?

If you are a Christian, have you ever treated someone as if they were beyond the grace of Jesus?

Photo Credit: Broken Light Photography

Author: Michael Murray

I like steak. I like bacon. And I want to follow Jesus the best I can.

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