"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King
Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 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.'" (Matt 2:1,2)
During the Christmas season we are surrounded by many things that are meant to remind us of the season. But amongst all of the glitter and glamour, hidden behind and between all the Santas and Reindeer, Snowmen and Elves, we also usually find some references to the reason for Christmas, the birth of the Christ child. Traditional stable scenes depict Mary kneeling beside baby Jesus, who is lying in a manger. Joseph stands off to one side, and the donkey and the cow look on. Outside of the manger, a small group of shepherds huddle with a few sheep and lambs, and off on the other side, we find a group of kings, the Magi, usually in a huddle of three, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Of course, the above mentioned scene is described nowhere in the Bible. More than likely the shepherds visited Jesus the night he was born, but the Magi probably arrived much later, maybe a much as two years later, and by this time, Jesus was no longer being housed in a manger. Nonetheless, the traditional crèche scene always comforts me. It not only helps me to remember the true meaning of Christmas, but it also encourages me that perhaps the entire world has not COMPLETELY forgotten about Jesus. That maybe Santa Clause has not COMPLETELY overtaken the Christ child in our celebration of Christmas.
But more than this, the stable scene, and specifically the presence of the Magi, serves to remind me of the real reason for Christmas.
We know very little about this Magi, these Wiseman of the east. Tradition tells us there were three of them, one bearing gold, one bearing frankincense, and one bearing myrrh. But the Bible doesn't specify. The Bible only tells us that they, in plural, were from the East.
The story of the Magi has inspired thousands of sermons and devotionals about the giving of gifts, and specifically about giving gifts back to Jesus. And these are all extremely important lessons for us to learn. But I believe that in our focus on the gifts of the Magi, we are overlooking something of even more vital importance. If we go back to Matthew 2, the first and only time the visit of the Magi is mentioned in the Bible, begins its record of this important, historical visit like this: "Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 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.'" (Matt 2:1,2)
These first two verses don't even mention the expensive gifts that we so often tend to focus on when we think of this powerful story. No, as a matter of fact, the reason given by the Magi themselves for coming so far had nothing to do with giving Him gifts. Instead, the following is recorded in scripture: "We … have come to worship Him." (Matt 2:2)
Friends, these Wise men of the East left homes, families, careers. They set out on a long, dusty journey, traveling for as much as two years. They endured dust and grime, thirst and hunger, and who knows what else. And their primary reason was to WORSHIP Him!
Let's stop for a moment and think about this. Isn't this the real reason for Christmas? That we, also, may stop what we're doing to WORSHIP Him?
And isn't this the real reason for seeking God in the first place, that we may WORSHIP Him?
So many of us seek God's face because we want something. Some want relief from trials. Others want a sense of being, a sense of security. Still others seek God's face to ask Him for something. But how often do we follow the example of the Magi? How often do we seek God's face to worship Him?
Friends, let's learn and important lesson from the Magi this Christmas. Let's make worship our #1 priority. Let's drop everything and seek God's face, and may our only motivation be so that we may WORSHIP Him!
"We … have come to WORSHIP Him."
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, www.scripturalnuggets.org , with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org .