Border Crossing


Matthew 2:1–6 (NIV)

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this, he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”


The circumstances surrounding the birth of the Christ-Child have much to say about what kind of person he would be. Where he was born, and to whom, hint at the earthiness and humility of his future ministry. And what about the folks who were there to greet him? Jesus was welcomed into the world by shepherds and pagans. The facts surrounding these wise men, or magi, are murky at best. We are not told who they represented, nor are we informed as to the exact nature of their profession. We do know where they came from, and we do know what they came to do. They came from the East.

In the first century, nearly everything east of Jerusalem belonged to the Parthian Empire, within which a multitude of religions were tolerated. Whichever of these the wise men practiced, they were most certainly not Jews! Their religion was different. Their culture was different. Everything about them was different. Yet, they leave everything behind to enter into the presence of Jesus. They were compelled to pay him homage. As the narrative in Matthew 2 continues, we are told that the wise men returned to their home country, but that they did so by way of a different route. We are told that they did so to avoid another encounter with Herod. What is the deeper meaning of this? I perceive it as an indication that they returned to their native place, and even to their former practices, yet in a fundamentally altered state due to their encounter with the Messiah.

This story is not just a foretelling of things to come. What we have here is a full disclosure of Jesus’s DNA. This is who Jesus is, drawing people like a magnet with an alarming disregard for the arbitrary boundaries that seem so sacred to the rest of us. He didn’t care that they came from a distant land. He didn’t care that they brought cultural and religious baggage along with their gifts. I propose that these men weren’t just drawn westward by a distant star, but by the love that emanated from the heart of the newborn King. Before he had even learned to walk, he was already welcoming the stranger.


Creator God, through the work of Jesus, you invite everyone to the table. Cultivate within us a spirit of hospitality and a willingness to lose friends in our resolve to welcome the stranger.


Examine your relationships. Have you allowed a fear of the other to birth a spirit of exclusion? How many of your friends look or believe differently than you?

For the Awakening,
Josh LeRoy

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

3 Responses

  1. Looking through the lens of the Gospel as revealed in the New Covenant, it becomes very clear that Jesus’s primary call to all potential disciples is: “Follow me.” If anyone agrees to comply with that simple invitation, they must be willing to sacrifice every other relationship that would interfere with that response, whether friendships, family relationship, fame or fortune. Anything less is a form of idolatry. The temptation to compromise the purity the Bride of Christ in an to avoid condemnation from the world is, in my opinion, the chief cause for the decline of Western Christianity. We all must choose either the way of the Spirit or the ways of the world; we can’t have it both ways.

  2. Christ’s strange star attracted a few odd fellows (a couple of years after the first Christmas).

    Some men were wonderstruck by a strange new star that rose and hung over far away Jerusalem. They sensed that it was a supernatural phenomenon — a sign calling them to learn more about the Jews. Somehow, they learned about the coming Jewish King, the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One, and saw the star as a sign of His birth. The star lingered so the men decided to take a long journey to Jerusalem to find and to worship the Jewish Messiah.

    When they arrived in Jerusalem, they asked people: “Where is the One who has been born King of the Jews? We saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him.”

    The whole city heard about those strange guys and their message and everybody in town was disturbed by it, including King Herod. Herod called together the religious leaders for some research and found out that the Messiah was prophesied to be born in the nearby little town of Bethlehem. Then Herod had those disturbing Gentiles brought to him and they told him the exact time that the star first appeared. Afterwards King Herod sent the odd strangers to Bethlehem to find the child King and to report back His location.

    Mysteriously, the star led the Gentile men to a house in Bethlehem and to a boy named Jesus. They saw Him and His mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped the toddler. They opened their treasures and gave the Christ child valuable gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Then dreams set in.

    The wise men were warned in a dream not to report back to Herod, so they traveled home by a different route. Then the Christ child’s stepfather, Joseph, saw an angel in a dream who told him to take the family and escape to Egypt. So, they fled during the night.

    When Herrod learned that the disturbing Gentile men had left without reporting to him, he was enraged and ordered all the boys in Bethlehem who were two years old and younger killed because that covered the time the wise men first saw the star. Then there was weeping and great mourning in the village of Bethlehem which continues to this very day. But the Prince of Peace was alive in Egypt preserving the hope of peace on earth and goodwill toward men — the hope of glory in the midst of our fallen, broken world. “Wise men still seek Him.”

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