Back to School: Lessons from the Magi

By Craig Stevenson

As our kids go back to school, they face more uncertainty than in my life time. Anxiety is high for everyone. The stakes are potentially higher. In this time when we need to breathe, let’s open Matthew Chapter 2 together—it’s the story of Jesus being born.

Plot twist: I want to focus on the magi, the wise men. The story and role these magicians or stargazers played in Jesus story is a similar one we can play as we go back to school. Here’s quick recap if your Bible isn’t handy:

  • The Magi heard about Jesus being born, felt called to go witness the Messiah
  • Herod felt threatened, met with the Magi and sent them to find Jesus and report back where he was
  • The Magi were guided to Bethlehem, where they met Jesus and gave him gifts
  • When they left, God told them in a dream not to return to Herod and they disbursed into crowds
  • Herod was angry when he realized he was fooled, and he sent soldiers to kill all the boys age 2 and under to try to ensure of Jesus’ death (which he failed at!)

The Magi had a plan—to see Jesus. That plan was interrupted and changed by Herod meeting them and then ultimately changed again after God spoke to them in a dream.

When our children step foot in school, like the Magi, they will have seen their school life changed in a major way. The back-to-school excitement will exist by seeing their friends again. In other ways, it likely won’t look or feel the same. The Magi listened to God and adjusted their plans. In Matthew’s story, the Magi never speak a word but their message lives on forever in their gifts and in their adjusted plans.

How our community reacts in this pandemic-related return to school will also be remembered. The magi gave Jesus the highest gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. As students’ progress through their year, they grow, learn more, and think more critically—key gifts to our society. This school year, let’s all work to help our students receive these gifts by partnering a little closer with our educators. This will ensure these gifts are received from everyone and not educators alone. Our educators deserve the support and our children need to hear encouragement from everywhere in today’s world.

The Magi’s quick change of plans of not returning to Herod may have saved Jesus’ earthly life. Perhaps not as dramatic, the gift of walking alongside educators and students today will carry nearly equal the weight during this anxiety-filled stage of life.