Epiphany of Our Lord

 Sermon Text: Matthew 2:1-12

 Other Readings: Numbers 24:15-17a and Romans 11:13-15,28-32


  1. What might have been the magi’s profession?
  2. Herod acts like he has good intentions, but what indications does the text give us that he has ulterior motives?
  3. What can the magi teach us about what faith is and what faith does?
  4. The prophecy that is quoted in our text comes from Micah chapter 5. But what makes Numbers 24:15-17a also a good text to accompany the Gospel Reading?
  5. How does this picture compare with how you envision the magi’s visit? (Adoration of the Magi by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo - Adoration of the Magi - Google Art Project


  1. We might call them “scholars.” Certainly, the Greek word for “magi” is used to refer to people who engage in black magic, fortune telling, and other things, but the clues about these magi make them appear to be more like professional academics, whose job it was to know things about their own culture and others’ culture. In short, the term “wise men” isn’t too bad a synonym.
  2. We’re told that he was “disturbed.” Herod is clearly nervous about what he perceives to be a threat and rival to his position. This is confirmed by his decree to kill all the babies in Bethlehem.
  3. Faith hears and trusts in the word of God. Faith then goes quickly into action based on the word. The magi’s eager faith is contrasted by the religious leaders’ indifference to the prophecy about Bethlehem.
  4. Numbers 24 has a Gentile (like the magi) knowing something about the Savior of all nations. Additionally, the text talks about a ruler to come out of Bethlehem; the magi call him “the king of the Jews.” Lastly, there is the reference to a star. We can’t be sure there is a direct connection here, but it does make us think about what the magi saw.
  5. Answers will vary based on personal perspective.