Summary: The gift of the Maji.
This morning I want to invite you to join me in reflecting upon the timeless invitation that lies beneath all the activity of this season;…the invitation to COME AND BEHOLD HIM.
As one of the great Christmas anthems declares so beautifully
“O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant
O come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem
Come and Behold Him, Born the King of Angels
O Come Let us Adore Him, O come let us Adore Him, Christ the Lord.”
Come and behold Him, come let us adore Him: As this sovereign call is once again poured out in a special way upon the earth, I can’t help but think of how often this simple calling gets confused…(illus) A businessman while in Japan. Disney should stick to their mergers on earth
selfish ambitions get in the way (humorous story)..Of course had it wrong…it’s Santa, not Jesus who only gives according to who is naughty or nice. A far clearer picture of our journey to behold him comes in MATTHEW 2: 1-12; 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.”
What took place in this wonderful journey is a bit different than some of the images portrayed in popular traditions….often imagine 3 Kings coming to the stable setting where our Lord was first born, but actually…These were not Kings; Magi were a tribe of Medians from the Persian empire in the East, they had become something of a priestly tribe, much like the Levites were in Israel: teachers and instructors to the Persian Kings They were known as men of holiness and wisdom; skilled in philosophy, medicine, and natural sciences…and in the simplicity of their sciences…they looked to the stars because clearly there was God given order in their arrangement and movement. Also need not limit them to three; the traditional image of 3 was simply drawn from the fact that 3 types of gifts were offered. Perhaps most surprisingly, Scripture does not portray them coming to that first night in the stable setting…but rather sometime later, the text describes them coming to a house rather than a stable, and to a young child rather than a “baby.” (Eventually Herod is found ordering the death of all boys under the age of 2 which may indicate that their journey and pursuit of the child was as long as 2 years.)
…but we need not yank those figures out of our nativity scenes; they were indeed wise men, adorned in prestigious dress, and among those who first cane to find Jesus.
AND THERE ARE SEVERAL SIGNIFICANT TRUTHS GOD REVEALS TO US IN THIS JOURNEY OF THE WISE MEN; SEVERAL TRUTHS THAT WILL BE HELPFUL TO US IN OUR OWN JOURNEYS TO COME AND BEHOLD HIM.
First; the process by which they were to come reveals much about our own search for Jesus; The Magi’s search reminds us that; GOD PLACES A DESIRE IN OUR HEARTS TO FIND JESUS.
It may seem to us extraordinary that those men should set out from the East to find a king, but the strange thing is that, just about the time Jesus was born, there was in the world a strange feeling of expectation of the coming of a king. Even the Roman historians knew about this. Not so very much later than this Suetonius could write, “There had spread over all the Orient an old and established belief, that it was fated at that time for men coming from Judaea to rule the world.” Tacitus tells of the same belief that “there was a firm persuasion…that at this very time the East was to grow powerful, and rulers coming from Judaea were to acquire universal empire.” The Jews had the belief that “about that time one from their country should become governor of the habitable earth.” So these wise men were filled with desire to find him.