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Matthew 2: 1-12 – The Epiphany | King James Audio Bible | KJV | King James Version

1 NOW when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judæa: for thus it is written by the prophet,
6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
11 ¶ And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

See also Epiphany Of The Lord Q&A

The Epiphany is an extraordinary event in the Bible, whereby we hear of the gift and revelation of Christ to all mankind. The three wise men have long studied the heavens; they have been looking for signs, for truths to guide them. They are of the east, of the orient, not of the Jewish people. They have seen the new star that is there to signify Christ and have come on pilgrimage to seek, to find and to worship Jesus.

And so it is to Jerusalem that the three wise men first travel. Bethlehem and Jerusalem are near neighbours – the star has not deceived them – and yet it is significant that it is Jerusalem the wise men first visit. Jerusalem was in Biblical times, as it is now, a pilgrim’s destination. It was a centre of secular authority, as seized by Herod the Great, a client king of the Romans. And it was the paramount city of God, home to the Temple, as rebuilt by same Herod the Great.

It may, though, seem strange that the wise men’s request to Herod is the whereabouts of he who is born King of the Jews. The Magi do not even realise that their question may be problematic to Herod. Here, as with Herod’s later request to be told of where the child Christ might be, that he may come and worship him also, the illegitimacy of Herod’s rule is suggested to the listener. Beyond this, we are told that all Jerusalem is troubled. And we may wonder, how can this be?

Already, at the announcement of Christ to the world, the murder of Christ by the city of Jerusalem is prefigured. As Christ will later say:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! (Matthew 23: 37)

We note that the star is not, it seems, visible to the wise men while they are in Jerusalem, or to the people of Jerusalem. It is when they have left Jerusalem that they see the star again. And so then they rejoice: they are on the right path again, and this is a path which fulfils the centuries-long Old Testament anticipation of Christ, which promise clearly extends to all peoples.

In these Bible verses, we should be alert also to the chief priests’ and the scribes’ role in furthering the quest of the wise men and more closely connecting their and the reader’s and listener’s attention to the long preparation of the Jewish people through the Bible history to Christ’s incarnation. Herod asks where Christ should be born; the chief priests and the scribes cite the Book of Isaiah:

5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judæa: for thus it is written by the prophet,
6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

It is a strange effect. The scribes and the chief priests have the knowledge to locate Christ; they have even been told that Christ is born. Their response, however, is fear and inaction; when hearing what should be the good news, they seem to flinch from this journey of faith, to the city of the truly great King David. It is up to the non-Jewish three kings, who have travelled so far, to continue to follow the star and to find Jesus.

It must have seemed very strange when the three kings arrived in Bethlehem. Does anybody else in Bethlehem know what’s happening? Can they see the star also, or are they as the people of Jerusalem? We might ask how this illuminates our sense of the journey of faith of the Magi and our sense of our own.

We also wonder just what might have been going through the three kings’ minds when they did discover Mary and Joseph and Jesus. What strange circumstances were here? We are reminded of the poverty of so much of the experience of Christ’s Nativity: the unmarried conception, utterly anathema; the long slog to Bethlehem to pay taxes inflicted by an occupying power; the circumstance of Christ’s birth in a shed; and, to come, the need to flee from the massacre of innocents to Egypt, where these Jewish people would be treated with such contempt.

Nonetheless, the immediate reaction of the three kings of the orient, truly wise men, is to fall down and worship Christ. Their recognition is instant. They have journeyed, guided by faith and by their looking to the heavens, so very far, and where those learned in the letter of the law have failed, they have found Christ. They see through the eyes of faith. Their knowledge really moves from the Old Testament Bible into the New. They know that God is with them.

There is symbolic significance in the gifts of the magi. The gold is for a king. The frankincense signifies Christ’s priestly role, just as incense carries our prayers to heaven. The myrrh is associated with Christ’s great sacrifice of himself; it was used both medicinally – we think of Christ’s wounds – and as an embalming material. It is so greatly significant that through the Epiphany and this adoration of Christ we hear of these three facts of our redemption. It can be good as well to think that through the gift-giving of Christmas we express this revelation of Jesus Christ.

The three kings are warned by God not to return to Herod. Next, Joseph will be warned by God’s angel that he and his family must flee. This is the context into which our saviour is born. This, from the start, is a sign of Christ’s humility.

A reading from the sermons of Saint Leo the Great:

God’s providence of mercy, having determined to save in the last days the world which was perishing, fore-ordained the salvation of all nations in Christ. In this connection, countless descendants to be begotten not by fleshly seed but by fertile faith, were promised of old to the most blessed patriarch Abraham. This posterity was therefore compared to the stars in multitude so that the father of all nations might hope not for an earthly but for a heavenly succession.

Let the whole pagan world enter into the family of the patriarchs, yes, let it enter, and let the children of the promise receive in Abraham’s seed the blessing which his children according to the flesh rejected. In the three Magi let all the nations worship the Author of the universe; and let God be known, not in Judaea alone but throughout the whole world, so that everywhere his name may be great in Israel.

Schooled, then, dearly-beloved, by these mysteries of divine grace, let us celebrate with spiritual joy the day of our first-fruits and the commencement of the nations, giving thanks to the merciful God for making us fit to share the light which saints inherit, for rescuing us from the powers of darkness, and transferring us to the kingdom of his beloved Son. For, as Isaiah prophesied the people of the nations that sat in darkness, have seen a great light and they that dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them has the light shone. Of these he also says to the Lord, nations which knew you not, shall call on you and peoples which were ignorant of you shall run to you.

This is the day which Abraham saw and was glad, when he understood that the sons of his faith would be blessed in his seed which is Christ, and foresaw that by believing he should be the father of the nations, ‘giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

This is the day which David sang of in the psalms: All the nations you have made shall come and worship you, O Lord, and glorify your name; and again, The Lord has made his salvation known; in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.

This indeed we know to be taking place ever since the three Magi were called from their far-off land and were led by the star to recognize and worship the king of heaven and earth. And surely their worship of him exhorts us to imitation; that, as far as we can, we should be at the service of this grace which invites all men to Christ.

You ought to help one another, dearly-beloved, in this zeal, so that in the kingdom of God, which is reached by right faith and good works, you may shine as children of the light, through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with God the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen. (St Leo the Great, Sermon 3, Epiphany, 1-3, 5)

“That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of the promise of Christ by the gospel” Ephesians 3: 6