The story of the Wise Men following the star to Bethlehem is a timeless narrative that holds profound spiritual significance, especially during the Christmas season. In this week’s reflection, we explore the deeper meanings embedded in this story, drawing insights from the biblical accounts and the teachings of Swedenborg.
The narrative of the Wise Men is a perfect example of the binary relationships that permeate the Bible. These relationships, like the pairing of truth with goodness or evil with falsity, signify deeper spiritual truths. The story of Jesus’ birth, mentioned only in Matthew and Luke's Gospels, presents such a binary. These accounts, viewed through the "camera angle" theory, offer different perspectives on the same event, each resonating with their intended audiences. Matthew's Gospel, written for a Jewish audience, focuses on the fulfilment of prophecies, while Luke highlights God's concern for the marginalised, as shown in the shepherds' story.
This week, we delve into Matthew's account, starting with the prophecy from Numbers: "A star will rise from Jacob; a sceptre will emerge from Israel." This prophecy foretells the journey of the Wise Men, led by a divine star, to seek the newborn King. These Wise Men, possibly from Syria, were heirs to the rich spiritual legacy of the Most Ancient Church. Their journey, influenced by their ancestors' faith, signifies the continuity of divine truth through generations.
Syria, a cradle of civilisation then, was home to the descendants of the Ancient Church. This includes Balaam, a Syrian prophet known for his conflicted yet ultimately reverent relationship with Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews. Balaam's story illustrates the complexity of faith and fallibility, where despite his divinations, his acknowledgment of Jehovah as the supreme deity stands out. This narrative reinforces the idea that the knowledge of the Lord's coming was not confined to Israel but was a universal expectation.
In the context of Christmas, the story of the Wise Men is not just about commemorating a historical event. It symbolises the birth of Divine teaching and the emergence of spiritual meaning from the Word. The Child, representing the embodiment of spiritual truth, enlightens our understanding and enables us to perceive deeper truths within the Word. Central to this revelation is the concept of God as Divinely human, a fundamental aspect of our understanding of the Scriptures.
At Christmas time we are invited to follow the example of the Wise Men, pursuing the spiritual light symbolised by the star. This light represents spiritual enlightenment, guiding us towards a deeper understanding and acknowledgment of the Divine Human. In ancient times, the Angel of Jehovah served as an emissary, preparing the way for the Lord's earthly manifestation. Today, this revelation is accessible through the deeper and symbolic meaning of the Word, allowing us to explore the mysteries of faith with a new clarity.
The Divine Human embodies the true essence of humanity, created in God's image and likeness. This Christmas, let's celebrate more than just the historical event in Bethlehem; let's celebrate the birth of this deeper meaning and the emergence of spiritual truth.
As we reflect on the story of the Wise Men, we realise that the pursuit of spiritual truths is meaningful only when it transforms our hearts. The differing accounts of Jesus' birth in Matthew and Luke’s Gospels serve this purpose. Matthew focuses on truth and knowledge, while Luke emphasises the heart and truth in action. This binary relationship in the Gospels invites us to embrace both aspects of faith.
Let us carry the light of this revelation in our hearts as we enter the Christmas season, allowing it to guide us in our journey of faith and understanding. May the spirit of Christmas, the celebration of Divine truth and light, remain with us throughout this season and inspire us to live in alignment with the Divine Human, the true essence of our humanity.