Matthew 2:1-12 (online here)
Christmas ends with the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6. The word “epiphany” means “disclosure,” and in this case it refers to the first disclosure of Jesus’ arrival, and of God’s universally reconciling presence, to non-Jews (aka “gentiles”).
The Gospel of Matthew tells us that the first non-Jews to learn of Jesus’ birth were “Magi” from “the East.” These were not just “wise men,” nor were they kings, and we’re not told how many they were—probably more than three.
Here’s the shocker: Magi were astrologers, sorcerers, experts in the occult! Many Christians today would expect these practices to be condemned, but according to Matthew, these were the very practices that led some people to God’s saving disclosure! It suggests that God is always communicating to people on the terms available to them, not just in one prescribed way.
These foreign sorcerers pay homage to Jesus, and then they leave and return to their own land. They did not convert to Christianity! But Matthew’s Gospel does not criticize them for that. Instead it seems to be hinting that Jesus has friends and allies who may never describe themselves as Christians.
That’s worth pondering.