Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who with the Holy Spirit are three-in-one,
A family was driving through the neighborhoods of their city, looking for the most beautiful displays of Christmas lights. As they drove past their local Lutheran church, they noticed a nativity scene. The young boy asked his mother….what’s that? “Well, honey, She said, “That’s Mary and Joseph and in that manger is the baby Jesus.” A few blocks down the road, they passed the Methodist church which had in front of its church, a scene of the wise men, journeying to find the Christ child. “Who are they?” said the boy, “Those are the wise men,” the mother said, “Their searching for baby Jesus.” Well they can’t be all that wise, “ the boy replied, “they won’t find Him there,” He’s down the street at the Lutheran church.”
The celebration of Christmas is almost over and many are still searching. They know the story, they’ve seen the movie, they might even be in church this morning, but they’re still searching for the real story of Christmas. “It has to be about more than Santa and his reindeer,” they say to themselves. And the search continues. This is a good thing. Every hour within every day should be a search by all of us for the Christ of Christmas and every hour of every day should be in service to others in their search. It’s when the search stops that we have cause to mourn.
In almost every depiction of the nativity we see at Christmas, the picture looks different than it did in front of the two churches, because the Wise men are usually included. We see them kneeling with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myyrh in adoration of the newborn Christ child.
Actually, this version of the scene is incorrect. When the wise men arrive, it says in our text in verse 11 that by the time of their visit they were no longer in a stable but in a house. No cows, no angels, no little drummer boys, just Mary, Joseph and their young son. Further on we find that Jesus was probably between 1 ½ to 2 ½ years old at the time of their visit. Clearly, He was no longer lying in a manger. They had become a family and Joseph had, no doubt, established some kind of a carpentry business by this time. The shepherds visit was just a pleasant memory.
Some speculate that the wise men were men of astrology, almost certainly not three kings. They probably traveled months to get to the place where Jesus was finally found, maybe as many as four months. And this would have been a difficult journey from the east full of rough terrain and dangerous people. They would have had to keep their eyes open for thieves and robbers, so it is very possible they were traveling in a much larger caravan, maybe even a military escort.
So, you say, why are we talking about things that didn’t even happen at Christmas? It’s because, their search has everything to do with that first Christmas morn. Their travels were hard, but the search was worth it. At the end of their journey, they received the great gift of meeting the King of kings and Lord of lords. They understood the importance of this birth, so it was worth the risk of the journey to find Him.
We have much to learn from the Wise men and their search for the Christ child. And we have much to gain when we put into perspective the search we have been willing to make as compared to all they had to endure to reach their goal.
First, we learn that God is willing and able to reach even those who are far from Him. God used the star to guide the Wise men but today we have something even greater, His Holy Word.
I think it’s good to mention that these men were, most likely, gentiles, not Jews, even though they came seeking the King of the Jews. God used a star to guide them, not because they were especially educated or intelligent, but because they were willing to take the journey. It didn’t matter that they were a great distance from Bethlehem or that they weren’t His chosen people. God was making a statement here that He calls all people, no matter where they are, to come to Christ.
The Jews thought the Messiah would be for them alone, but God had much different plans. The Christ child was born for all people. Not just the most holy or most perfect. He doesn’t only seek out the best or the brightest. The Christ child was born for all people of all colors and shapes.
He reaches out for you no matter who you are. When you’re hurting and alone, when your angry, when your sad, even when you have every reason to rejoice, He wants to become the star that you follow. He wants to open your eyes to see the importance of your journey no matter how far away you are from Him.
And when He sends out His signals to you, He never stops wanting you to find Him. He never takes the opportunity away. He never hides His star from you. His greatest desire is that you begin your search, because the trip is always worth the perceived dangers and rough terrain you might have to endure to get there.
Secondly, we learn that the Wise men were diligent in their search. Though the travel must have been arduous, they never gave into the temptation to stop the journey. When you look at your journey towards Christ, how much does it take you to stop your journey? When you come to that first obstacle in the road, say a time where you need to defend your Christian faith, what do you do? Is that enough to stop the journey?
Christ speaks to people who veer off the road easily like the church in Laodicea recorded in Revelations 3 saying , “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I spit you out of my mouth.”
God has no desire for those who simply play the game by saying they are one thing but acting as if they were another. His desire is for those who diligently search for Him, who are willing to take the journey no matter the temptations to stop. He is looking for those who believe in Him enough to trust in His promises for them.
We can have Biblical knowledge, we can even have certain religious convictions, but if were not willing to take the journey, what good are they? If we are unwilling to live out our faith and practice what we preach, all credibility is lost. God the Father is seeking a relationship with us through His Son Jesus Christ, the same Jesus Christ the Magi never gave up on. He wants us to seek Him where He may be found, knowing that if we truly seek Him we will find Him. Jesus said in Matthew 7:
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”
He’s not hiding from you but neither will He force Himself upon you. If you seek Him He will send His angels to guide you. If you choose the world, He will let you. Yet He will never stop searching for you. His star will always be there to guide you.
We come to our third lesson taught to us by the Wise Men, the reason to worship. When the Wise men finally found Jesus, they showered Him with gifts as a form of worship. In their gifts could be found Gold and Frankincense and myyrh. They gave of themselves.
Worship is no different today. It may not include giving those kinds of gifts but it’s every bit as much about worshipping by your gifts.
Worship is not an option when it comes to your relationship with Christ. Worship, in fact, is a much needed element.
When we think of worshipping someone in a worldly sense it usually involves adoring someone more than they probably deserve. In the Spiritual sense, worship is much more fulfilling.
We do not worship because we have a God with a superiority complex, we worship because it keeps us in line with our faith. To be in a proper relationship with God costs us everything we have. It means giving of yourself 100% so as not to let the devil find his opportunity.
The first thing the wise men did was kneel in adoration and worship. They knew of the importance of this child and they were bold to show it.
Again in our text it says, “And going into the house they saw the child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshipped Him.” They had reached their goal of finding the Christ child and it was not enough for them to be satisfied with that. They came to worship Him and that’s what they did. Though they were men of obvious means, they bowed in submission before Him.
And that’s probably the hardest thing for us proud humans to do, to bow before the King of kings, acknowledging His power and submitting ourselves totally to His guidance and mercy.
Every time we worship it involves giving something of our self. It’s done by opening our hearts to God ready for His direction. Every time we feed the hungry, visit the stranger, help the hurting, defend the persecuted, or come to church to share, we worship God. Anytime we give of ourselves by being His hands, His feet, His mouth and His heart, we worship our creator as we were designed to do.
Each of the gifts the Maji shared came at a significant cost to themselves. All three gifts were extremely valuable. Yet they did so willingly. We also should be so willing. With our time, our treasures and our talents, we also should be willing to give to Him who gave all of Himself for us. We should, by our works, acknowledge the one who gave us life, both temporal and eternal.
This Christmas, I pray you also keep your heart open to the Christ child. I pray you have your eyes always looking for the star. Even when you find Him, I pray your eyes never leave Him.
Our journey will end one day when we find ourselves at the foot of Christ in paradise. In the meanwhile, the search continues. And it’s a search we don’t have to take alone. We have each other, we have God’s Word to guide us and we have the Holy Spirit to inspire us toward reaching the goal. It may not be in a dream, but the Lord will most certainly find just the right way to guide you to the goal, if you are willing.
So, where are you in your journey today? Are you far away from Christ? Are you tripping over the obstacles or have you already quit the search? Remember, God continues to wait for you and He keeps His star shining so that all those who are willing may see it. No matter where you are in your relationship with God, it is not too late to start the journey. It’s not too late to begin again.
If you seek Him you will find Him and you will ultimately get your reward. May God Guide you by His Word to keep following the star. Amen.