30 Dec Exclusivism & the Magi
As I mentioned I preached from Matthew 1.18-2.23 last Sunday. I preached through the narrative and organized my thoughts into three points: 1) False religion faces; 2) Unexpected worship; 3) Of an unexpected king. I understood the narrative to draw a very sharp contrast between the religious leaders and Herod with that of the magi. Of particular interest is the fact that the magi came to worship the ‘king of the Jews.’ One of the contrasts I saw had to do with the fact that the magi could read the stars better than the religious leaders read the Scriptures. This is an indictment on the religion of Herod and Israel.
While it is an indictment, too much should not be deduced from this truth. In other words, some may argue that these magi were able to read the stars and worship the king. Thus, there is no waarant for saying that God cannot work in and through other religions – after all the magi were from the pagan East (perhaps Babylon). Why would this be going too far? Well, if left to their star-gazing, the magi would never have actually worshiped the king of the world. Although they knew he was of Jewish ethnicity, they went to Jerusalem. They needed further revelation from God that this king was to be born in Bethlehem of Judea. Had they not humbled themselves before those who had been given the Scriptures, they would have remained in Jerusalem expecting to see a sign…in vain. God exalts his word in this passage by requiring them to submit their wills to it.
This is even more indicting since the Jews knew where the Christ was to be born, but refused to go with the magi. May we not fool ourselves into thinking that God has ordained some other means of salvation other than his Word being proclaimed.