Following the Light

Pause: Matthew 2:1-23

While We Three Kings is a popular Christmas song, it’s unlikely that the wise men, known as magi, who visited Jesus were actual kings from the East. Rather, the Greek word μάγοι, or magoi, indicates that they were learned Gentile men considered magicians in their time. But they weren’t magicians or wizards as we define them today. Rather, magi were men skilled in astronomy, religion, and medicine and were known for interpreting dreams and most likely worshiping heavenly bodies.

When a group of these men — we are never told in Scripture how many — arrived in Jerusalem, their limited education in Jewish prophecy about a coming king grew as they met Jewish religious leaders summoned to Herod’s court. They were told their aim should be Bethlehem, and their hearts must have skipped a beat. They were so close. These astronomers explained that “his star when it rose” led them to the land of Israel and they had a deep desire to worship the One associated with this star. Even before they had a face-to-face encounter with this long-awaited King Jesus and bestowed upon Him symbolic gifts, they clearly believed that He was worthy of their worship.

As they left the earthly king’s court to trek the six miles to Bethlehem to find the King, His star went before them, urging these joy-filled men onward until it came to rest over the house where the boy Jesus was with His mother. In great rejoicing, these respected men of great position in their own countries fell down and worshipped their King, the One who had brought light into a dark, lost world. Matthew records that these men opened their treasures and offered Jesus three gifts of significant financial value in the First Century that also foreshadowed the boy’s earthly life — gold to honor the King, frankincense to burn as incense in worship, and myrrh to use as an embalming oil. Oh how Jesus’ parents must have marveled that God directed both lowly shepherds and men of great social standing to worship at the feet of their baby.

Ponder: The wise men searched diligently for the king of the Jews to worship Him. Herod searched diligently for the king of the Jews to kill Him. Have you searched diligently for the Light of the world? How have you and how will you respond to Him? Consider setting aside a chunk of time today to worship your King. Worship can happen in so many ways — in still quiet moments where we surrender our treasures to Him, in song, in dance, in reading from God’s Word, in prayer, in naming the ways He is the King, in service, and in other creative ways when we focus on the One who is worthy of our praise.

Pray: God, thank You for softening the hearts of the wise men to search diligently for You, to worship at Your feet, and to surrender their treasures to You. May I continue to search Your Word to know You better, may my heart be soft to the nudging of Your Spirit, may my worship of You be unceasing, and may I fully surrender all I have to You.

Listen: Chris Tomlin sings All the World Awaits here. For those of you who enjoy a little country storytelling, find Paul Overstreet’s Wise Men Still Seek Him here.

— Jaime Sherman