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"Witnesses to Jesus' Birth" (posted December 1, 2003)

  Now after Jesus was born ... behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him."
  - Matthew 2:1-2

Jerusalem is all troubled by the tidings of the Messiah's birth, while strangers from afar come up to do homage to the King of the Jews. They had seen His star; they knew it was the promised King, and now they are come to worship Him.

They are found at Jerusalem, and when they leave it, on their way to Bethlehem, they are again encouraged of God. The star which they had seen before in the east reappeared and went before them till it came and stood over where the young child was, to their exceeding great joy.... And we shall find it true in our own experience, that where we act without appearances [that is, by faith], we find all that is necessary. God always takes particular care of those who are true to the light, even though it be ever so little; while nothing is more abhorrent to Him than great pretensions to light, without any heart for the true light, which is Christ.

"And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him," not her (Matthew 2:11). Their homage was to Him. "And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh." They acknowledged Him as strangers whose greatest honor was to be owned of Him.

In Luke we have quite another order of things. It is not so much one acknowledged as a king, though He was a king; but He is seen there in the lowliest possible condition. The persons that own Him are Jewish shepherds, who had the news made known to them from heaven. The heavenly hosts praise--their hearts delight in the purpose and ways of God, in the Savior--for as such had He been announced to them: "There is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger" (Luke 2:11-12).

This was the very opening of our blessed Lord's life here below, evidently taking place immediately after His birth. The incident of the homage rendered by the Magi was long subsequent. There is not the slightest ground for confounding the two occasions. Each Gospel is true to its special purpose.

It is a question of His royal rights over Israel and the Gentiles in Matthew. In Luke we have the perfect lowliness, from His very birth, of the Savior-Son of man; the interest of heaven in the birth of the earth-despised Christ the Lord; and on earth none but the poor of the flock who have their hearts awakened to receive this blessed One, [Who is] alike the expression, and the means, and the substance of divine grace.

William Kelly

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