Thursday, December 18, 2008

Traveling to the Crib

Based on Matthew 2:1-18

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Judea and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”…After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.—Matthew 2:1, 2, 9-12

I’m intrigued by two simple sentences in Matthew 2

“We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” (v.2)

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. (v. 11)

The Magi seem to live with a singular focus in life. They want to worship. They orient their lives around their desire and, as a result, they receive the fulfillment of their desire: they find the one they were seeking and they worship him.

Solomon, widely known for his wisdom, tells us that God “set eternity in the hearts of men” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We were created for worship, for the eternal, for something greater than ourselves.

The wise men recognized signs of the eternal, of the divine, in the Jewish prophecies and writings they found. They took the information they had and followed it until it led them to the One to which the prophecies pointed.

The desire for the eternal was so pressing that they went out of their comfort zone to a totally new land. They persevered in their quest—traveling for several years, asking questions when they needed help, following the light that they had until it led them to their destination.

When the star stopped, when it shone its light steadily at their destination, they accepted God’s answer to their quest, as unlikely as it might have seemed. After all, the king of the Jews housed in a common home, unknown to neighbors or political or religious leaders? How likely must that have seemed? Yet they accepted him as the One they had been seeking, the king of the Jews.

The Magi experienced joy as their heart’s desire was fulfilled in discovering God’s chosen One.

They offered the Christ child their gifts and treasure. They weren’t just seeking knowledge; they were intent on worship, on offering their lives to the object of their worship. They weren’t casual sightseers, coming to inspect or gawk at what they saw. They were pilgrims, devoted to seeking God in response to His guidance and leading.

As the Magi left, they received guidance from God that protected them and sent them back along a different route. On the way to Judea, they had a story of being on the quest to discover God’s chosen One, to search out the truth, of seeking the eternal, planting seeds for others to follow.

On the way home, they had a story of finding the fulfillment of the prophecies, of joy, of discovering eternal truth in a child born to a virgin, of God’s intimate guidance and protection, planting new seeds in new lives as they shared their story.

What grabs your attention in the Magi’s story?

What direction are you traveling? Are you seeking spiritual truth?

What are you willing to do to find spiritual truth?

Who do you go to for help when you need spiritual direction?

Have you accepted Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promises and prophecies?

Having found Him, are you satisfied with God’s answer to the longing for the eternal in your heart? Or are you continuing to dabble in other philosophies and religions?

What gifts are you giving Him as an act of worship? What level of devotion do your gifts reflect?

How is worshiping the Christ child changing you?

What stories are you telling others as you journey? How are you pointing them to Jesus?

To view the worship celebration related to this study, go to

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