A Gift for a King
The Magi (Matthew 2:1) are famouse for several reasons. First, Magi is just a cool name. They're sometimes called Wise Men, and in the song, called kings. We don't have Magi wondering around Scotland today, but they were a fascinating mix of astrologer, scientest, priest, aristocrat, and counselor to the king.
But they're famous because of the journey they made (probably from somewhere in Persia) to Jerusalem to seek the new-born king. They got their by way of a 'star', something they saw in the sky, possibly the conjunction of Saturn (mother planet) and Jupiter (king planet) in the constellation Pices (dawn of a new age) that occurred in 7BC. This would have gotten them to Jerusalem by 5BC (using the estimation of 2 years from the time they saw the star based on Herod's inquiry and action), before Herod's death in 4BC.
More than being famous, however, they give us an example to be followed. Rather than trying to kill the king like Herod (Matthew 2:16-18) or ignore the king like the sribes (Matthew 2:4-6), the Magi worshipped the king.
They did this in two ways: the famous way is through the gifts they gave - the gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These are sometimes interpreted symbolically as gifts to demontrate Christ's kingship (gold), mortality (myrrh), and divinity (frankincense). But more than symbolic meaning, the common denominator is that these are all expensive gifts; they are all luxury items, like a gold, diamond, and emerald necklace might be.
The other way they worshipped was to bow down before Jesus. And the word translated for worship is proskyneō which means to prostrate oneself before. This was a symbol of submission in Persian culture; the Magi were confessing that this baby was superior to them and worthy of worship.
We meet this word again in Matthew when the disciples meet the resurreced Lord in Galilee and worship (proskyneō) him. Jesus then sends them to the nations with the gospel to make disciples.
Notice the movement: the Magi come from the nations to worship; the disciples worship and are sent to the nations. As they make disciples, more are gathered to worship the king so that the vision of Revelation 7:9-10 is fulfilled:
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
At the birth of Jesus, the nations (Magi) gather to worship; by being faithful to the mission God has given, the disciples gather the nations to keep worshipping.
We're try to kill the king or ignore the king any time we want to dethrone the king and assert our own sovereigny over our lives. Matthew 2:1-12 invites us rather to worship the king, falling down before, submitting to his Lordship.
Why do we worship? Why do we submit? Because he is King of kings and Lord of lords; He is the highest; He is the best. Jesus is the Lamb who is worthy because he was slain and rose again. We are defined by what we worship, and God invites us to humble ourselves and give to Jesus the worship of which He is worthy. The greatest