Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Promise of His Coming (37)

Those mysterious magi still enthrall us today, with the Christmas card images of wise men on camels bearing gifts, the strange gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (whatever that is...), the long journey following a star to a house in Bethlehem. What were they expecting? Why did they do it? What did they think when they arrived? What happened when they finally got home again?

So many questions yet we're never told the answers. We can look forward to meeting these wise men in heaven and hearing all about their journey. What we are told, though, is the reaction when they arrived in Jerusalem looking for the born king:

"Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him." (Matthew 2:2)

For a start, the 'king' of the Jews, Herod, wasn't pleased to hear of this rival king. There had been no royal birth in the palace or his family. Who was this king of the Jews from birth? Was his position under threat? We're told that 'When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.'

Perhaps surprisingly, he consults the religious leaders and experts to see what the Bible said about the birth of the Christ, the promised coming king. This is an easy question - a starter for ten; it has to be Bethlehem, from what Micah 5:2 says. With that, having learnt when the star appeared (and thus how old the baby was already), he sends the magi wise men on their way to Bethlehem.

Just the wise men. Herod says he wants word so he too can go and worship, but we know his heart is inclined towards evil and he wants to destroy the Christ child.

Just the wise men. Even though the religious leaders knew the answer to where the Messiah would be born, even though it appears that this has now happened, even though these strange foreigners are on their way to see the Christ, the chief priests and the scribes don't go to worship Jesus. Too busy being religious to worship the Lord Jesus.

Just the wise men. Back in the saddle on their camels (or however they travelled), and once more the star goes ahead of them, towards Bethlehem. There, they find their heart's desire, the one they have pursued and journeyed many days to see, and they offer their worship:

And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

No longer in the stable, but in the house, Jesus is a bit older than the baby of Bethlehem. The wise men give the proper response to the Christmas story, by falling down and worshipping. Jesus, the God-man, the hope of Israel, the shepherd of his people, the light of the world, the salvation-bringer, promised from long ago is now here. The only appropriate response is to worship. What better place to finish our series on the Promise of His Coming? Will you worship the Lord Jesus too?

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