From The Pastor At St. Paul's UCC, Freeburg, IL

Wise Men Do NOT Still Seek Him

Last Sunday we observed Epiphany, with the gospel reading from Matthew 2 re the “wise men” coming to Christ.  Seems to me that the idea that “Wise Men Still Seek Him” is not only wrong, but dangerously so. For three reasons:

1 – Matthew, a most Jewish gospel writer, would never have seen the magi as wise. According to the OT, they were condemned as sorcerers and practictioners of occult arts. They read tea leaves and tarot cards, not the Bible. I believe translating “magi” as “wise men” imports an idea that Matthew would not have meant. His point was that Jesus draws all kinds of folks, even pagans – not that these pagans were wise.

2 – Most “wise men” today don’t seek Jesus.  When you think of “wise” folks today, where are they? Academia. Think tanks. Places which, not coincidentally, are also full of materialists, atheists, scoffers. “Wise” people today are not, like Matthew’s magi, going way out of their way to find Jesus; not offering their gifts to him for his service, not risking themselves by not cooperating with the political powers that be. I’m overgeneralizing, but you get my point. A few Wise men may be seeking Jesus, but by and large the wise are seeking Jesus no more than fools are.

3 – There is a real danger in thinking that Wise Men Still Seek Him, a danger referred to not by Matthew but by Paul. Check 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 – God chose the FOOLISH things of the world to shame the WISE…so that no one may boast. Paul is pointing to why Wise Men Still Seek Him is spiritually dangerous – it subtly leads to boasting and a kind of pride. I understand it this way – if we believe Wise Men Still Seek Him, it’s just a tiny step to thinking that we seek him because we’re wise; we seek him because we’re virtuous, we seek him because we’re good. Isn’t that the pitch with Wise Men Still Seek Him? If you’re smart, savvy, with it, you’ll seek him too. And lo and behold, it’s no longer about Him but about us; not about his brightness but about our wisdom and perceptiveness. Dangerous stuff…

The magi came to Jesus not because they were wise, but because his light shone on them and they followed it.  So the question for us is not “Are you wise” but “have you seen His light?” Big difference in how we see ourselves, and how we see Him.

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