Good mysteries have a reveal (Ephesians 3:2-6)

A surprise birthday party? A campaign shrouded in mystery until the launch? The joy of good secrets is in the reveal.

But we struggle when we don’t know. We fill the vacuum with stories or fears of what might happen. Even theologians fear the worst when we don’t know. Like what will happen to people who never heard about Jesus? Maybe we need to trust God instead of letting our imagination run amok. Continue reading “Good mysteries have a reveal (Ephesians 3:2-6)”

How did the magi find Jesus? (Matthew 2:1-12)

Persian astrologers came looking for Jesus? What do you make of that?

Open Matthew 2:1-12.

You’ve seen the Christmas cards. Three wise men. On camels. Following a star. Balthasar, Caspar, and Melchior — three kings of orient according to western tradition. So we build nativity scenes with a manger and kings and camels and shepherds and sheep and the donkey that carried the very pregnant Mary. There probably weren’t three wise men: their caravan would have been larger for safety’s sake. The Bible doesn’t say they rode camels either. We made up the bit about the donkey too.

And they weren’t “wise men.” Magi were originally a class of Persian priests who practiced astrology and other magic arts. In Daniel 2 (LXX) they’re bundled with enchanters and sorcerers as advisors to the king of Babylon. In Acts 13:6-8, a Cypriot ruler had a magos advising him, and Paul despised him. The word usually has negative connotations in Jewish literature—a trickster/deceiver. Matthew hints at that when he says that Herod was “tricked” by the magi (2:16). Continue reading “How did the magi find Jesus? (Matthew 2:1-12)”

What about those who’ve never heard the name? (Genesis 16:13-16)

What happens to those who’ve never heard of the Saviour?

YHWH planned to restore the blessing of his reign to the nations by creating his own nation through Abram and Sarai. But Hagar did not see God in their household: what she saw was the abuse of power that is so typical of humanity in rebellion. How will the nations ever see God when his people are so unloving? Continue reading “What about those who’ve never heard the name? (Genesis 16:13-16)”