“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, . . . Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
—Matthew 2:1-2 NIV
Another well-known element of the traditional Nativity are the Magi (translated “wise men” or “royal astrologers”) who visited the young Christ bearing three royal gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh.
We know very little about these men, except that they came from the east and knew about the birth of the Messiah or “king of the Jews.”
It is important to know that first-century Judaism was fiercely nationalistic. Jews weren’t permitted to enter the house of a Gentile (a non-Jew; see Acts 10:28), and when Paul stated to a crowd in Jerusalem that he had been sent to preach to the Gentiles, a riot ensued (Acts 22:21-22).
It is striking, then, that among the short list of individuals to whom God chose to reveal the birth of Jesus were these foreigners from the east.
All of us have opinions about who God can use and who he cannot; who is “in” and who is “out.”
Perhaps God chose to include so many ostracized and rejected individuals in his story because he wanted to remind us that only he has the authority to decide who makes the cut.
The Imperfect Nativity is bad news for self-appointed judges and wonderful news for everyone who realizes that they could never earn a spot at God’s table by their own merit.
It is time to drop the judge’s gavel and simply marvel at the fact that Jesus, God-with-us, chose to include us in his story.
Here’s a short prayer to carry with you today:
Breathe in: One and only Judge,
Breathe out: Thank you for including me.