“When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem…”
The Epiphany, the day in which celebrate the revelation of Jesus as the Son of God. Only in Matthew’s gospel account to we read about the coming of the magi as the present Him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Often times we focus on their gifts and the symbolism behind each of them. However, what I find to be significant is that the magi came from the east. Scripture scholars will tell you that east is never the direction to move in. When we were booted from Eden, which direction did we go? East. Throughout the Old Testament, when the Isrealites moved east, trouble seemed to follow them, but when they moved west the were more prosperous.
What is even more significant is that not only did the magi come from the east, but they also arrived in Jerusalem. At the time of Jesus, Jewish people understood Jerusalem to be the center of their universe, in essence. Jerusalem, more specifically, the Temple, was where God dwelt in the Holy of Holies.
Most scholars believe that the magi were not necessarily religious people. Certainly they were wise, and they may have also been kings. In this story of three not-necessarily-religious people coming from the east and arriving in Jerusalem, we see the journey of our own lives. We are all east of Eden, not in heaven. We may not even necessarily be religious people. But the feast of the Epiphany reminds us that we are all on a journey. We are traveling from the place that we shouldn’t have to be in the first place towards the dwelling place of God. We are journeying towards Christ, towards heaven, towards the promise that was foretold by the prophets.
No matter where we are on our journey, no matter if we think we are as wise as the magi, we are all be called to come from the east and draw near to Jesus, who desires to reveal to us His divinity, His majesty, and ultimately, His love.