Summary: From the trek of the Wise Men, what are some lessons we can learn?
A Trek towards the Christ Child
* For years we have had many misconceptions about the wise men. Of all the things which are misunderstood, we can list the number of wise men and the timing of their visit as possibly the top two. If we ask the question, “How many wise men were they?” Most people would answer (without thinking) “three.” Actually, we don’t know how many there were but I even find myself referring to the “three King” and singing “We Three Kings of Orient Are”. But in truth, there could have been more or less. The next misunderstanding is the timing of their trip. For those of us in music, we have brought the wise men to the manger in our musical productions until people believe that the wise men came to the manger in Bethlehem, but the language of the scripture indicate that Jesus was a “young child” (likely around 18 months to 2 years old). Remember the wise men didn’t step into a car or plane and make the journey; this took them a while to arrive. For me, the huge encouragement is that the Star followed Jesus and came to rest OVER the young child.
* This is one of my favorite Bible stories because there is so much to learn from this account. Today let’s think about taking a “trek” towards the Christ child. Most of us are familiar with treks (although we may not use the term trek). A trek is a long and difficult journey. Most of us have taken these kinds of trips. In 1989, we started from Pensacola, Florida with a group of students headed toward North Carolina to ski. We left at 4am one morning expecting an uneventful 10-11 hour drive. We finally arrived at our destination around 2am the next morning. (Long story) But this was a trek.
* Based on scriptural prophecies, the wise men set out to find the Messiah and ultimately they completed their journey. Let’s consider their journey and actually what accompanies a trek towards the savior.
1. Begins with Determination – The scriptures pointed to one event, one hope, and one child. The wise men (Magi – plural of Magician) were well read in the prophecies and acted on what they knew. The left their home land, families, and friends to discover God’s gift to mankind. And by the way, their desire was to give honor and recognition to this baby by bringing the best they had to offer. The trip was obviously difficult and even confusing, so when they came to Jerusalem, they became urgent.
a. Their Interrogation – These guys came to town still looking for the prize. They were so desperate to find Him that they stopped to ask direction. When people want to find something desperately enough, (even men), they will stop and ask directions from whoever may help them.
* Look at how specific the question is; “Where is HE who is BORN KING of the Jews?” Make a personal note that they didn’t ask this question with doubt or in the negative. They didn’t ask “Is there one born King of the Jews?” Their question indicates their confidence that the King had, in fact, been born. Why were they so confident?
b. Their Observation – We have seen His star in the east. From a practical standpoint people have debated what the star was. Whatever it was, we can know that it was God who chose to reveal to these heathen magi that He has made good on His promise. Why did God chose them? Could it be that they were the only ones paying attention. It is obvious that they were students of the Old Testament and were watching the prophecies come to pass. Because of their commitment to the writings of the past they were paying attention. In thinking about this, I wonder in this age of “instant everything,” if we have lost the ability or desire to observe or pay attention. We have so much, are so independent, and are so confident of our knowledge that, on a day to day basis, we observe very little. Can you imagine taking a trip without paying attention to the route? These wise men asked the right questions, made the astute observation about the star (which everyone else missed), and came to find Jesus for a reason.
c. Their Obligation - We have come to worship Him. After studying the Old Testament writings, they had come to understand this promised one was THE ONE who was worthy of worship. The wanted to find Him not for what HE could do for them, but rather, for what they would offer Him. They felt an obligation to offer Him worship, homage, and adoration. While we do not know definitively, it is highly possible that this trip, which was tough, took them between 12 and 24 months. Had they not been determined to find this king, they may have well given up the journey.