Matthew 2:1-2, 10-11
1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
The story of the wise men seeking the Savior is one that is shrouded in mystery and tradition. They seem to just show up mysteriously and just as mysteriously they are gone. From tradition we seem to know all the facts and details yet the truth is as we study the scriptures there seem to be more questions than answers. How many were there? We don’t know, we assume three because there were three gifts. Who were they? They were called “Magi” where we get our word for magician, as such they were devoted to the study of the stars, but more than that, we don’t know. Where did they come from? We don’t know, scripture says from the East, some have suggested Babylon, Persia. I have often wondered if they weren’t Jewish descendants who were taken captive by the Babylonians, and later the Persians who would overthrow the Babylonians. These Jews would have been told about a coming king, the king of the Jews. While we think of them as part of the Christmas story, they were not present at the birth of Christ. What we do know is that they recognized God at work in the world around them as Psalm 19 declares: – 1”The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. 3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. 4 Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” The Magi didn’t just see God’s revelation, they responded to it. They may not have had all the facts when they started, but they had enough to know they needed to search, God gives enough light so we will search for more. Responding to God’s revelation meant that they had to leave their region and journey to find Jesus. This journey of worship always involves:
- FAITH vs 2
What would prompt someone to leave the comfort of their homes to go on a dangerous journey? Romance? Yes, wealth? Most definitely. But faith? Yes, faith. “Where is He who has been born the King of the Jews?” What a probing question, there is no doubt in their language that He had been born, the question is “Where is He?” They had seen the star, the revelation was real, they had faith that He was alive, that He existed, now all they needed to do was to find Him. They were willing to risk everything in response to God’s revelation, willing to leave their safety to seek the Savior. Can you imagine their neighbor’s reaction? “Are you going on a journey?” “Yes.” “Where are you going?” “We don’t know for sure.” “How far is it?” “Well we don’t know that either.” How long are you going to be gone?” Well we’re not quite sure on that either.” “Boy for wise men you sure don’t know much do you?” But you know they must have said the same things to Abraham when he left his home for the Promised Land. They must have said the same things to Noah who was building an ark, even though it had not rained. They must have said the same kind of things to Peter, Andrew, John and James when they left the fishing nets to become fishers of men. What, are you crazy, are you insane, are you out of your mind, why are you being a fool? Not a fool but a person of faith. The fact is that God’s journeys always involve faith, it is impossible to please God apart from faith, why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6. So how is your journey of worship causing you to step out in faith? William Cary was a shoemaker who one day heard of the millions of people in India who had not heard the Good News of Jesus Christ. He responded to the revelation of the great commission to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” He believed that that verse was speaking directly to him. So he went to India supporting himself and for seven years he worked without seeing a single convert. He pressed on and by the end of his life he saw hundreds of churches and thousands of converts. Today he is known as the “Father of Modern Missions” he was following his Father on the journey of faith.
- FINDING Jesus vs 2
Worship is about seeking and finding Jesus. King Herod knew who to seek to get the answer to find Jesus, the Priests, the priests knew where to seek, the bible, but neither of them found Jesus because they never went to seek Him. Herod pretended to want to worship the Savior when he was really a worshipper of self! Both Old and New testaments tell us that if we will seek Jesus we will find Jesus. Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Matthew 7:7 “seek and you will find” It’s not knowing about Jesus its Knowing Jesus which comes as we seek Him, so what are you searching for this Christmas who are you seeking? The journey of worship involves determination and diligence in the search. We don’t know the distance of the journey but we know it took time In Matthew 2:16 we are told that Herod decided to kill all boy children 2 years old and younger so apparently from the time the star first appeared it could have taken them almost two years to locate where Christ was. They were determined to search until they found the answer. This wasn’t a religious fad, or a whim of the moment, they were willing to see their search through to the end. They kept searching even when their reference point was gone and they discovered that God can use anything to show the way, even an ungodly King and uncaring religious priests. Their searching caused them to share the message of Salvation. Sometimes we get so comfortable following our star that we get in a rut and we forget to include others who need to know about Jesus. Because the star disappeared it allowed for others to hear and decide if they would go to worship. Your journey of worship to find Jesus will be a witness, others will notice, some will hate it like Herod, some will be indifferent like the religious. Journey on anyway and don’t get distracted by others decisions. Did they ever grow tired? Were there times of sickness? Did they ever get discouraged? Did they ever feel like quitting? I suspect the answer to all these questions is “yes” but they persevered and pushed on. So where are you at, are you dedicated and determined in your spiritual search?
- FOCUSED vs 11.
The wise men were intentional in their search because they were focused on the destination of the journey, worship, this was the whole purpose for seeking Jesus. Often our seeking Jesus is more about our wants than our worship. Worship is about giving, wants are about getting and the wise men came prepared to give, they brought with them gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Today we want worship to be spontaneous and emotional because we believe if it’s unplanned then it’s somehow more real. I fear that the real truth is that we really just want to wing it when it comes to worship. We want worship where we can show up when it’s convenient and there is an experience provided for us, but what are you bringing?