Summary: A sermon for Epiphany.
“Going By a Different Route”
We aren’t told how long of a time had passed between when the Magi first saw the star and when they arrived in Jerusalem, but Herod’s order—in verse 16—to kill all male children two years and younger gives us a bit of an indication.
Although we have come to think of the Magi as Kings, the word “magi,” is where we get our word for “magic.”
But the magi weren’t really magicians; they were astrologers who studied the heavens for signs of important events.
Outside of the Bible, a number of other ancient historians of the time report that the magi regularly traveled to visit and search for kings.
It could be said that the magi were authentic “spiritual seekers.”
And we too live in a time of great spiritual unrest.
Our world is filled with people who are searching for meaning in a world that appears to have gone mad!!!
As we begin our journey into 2013, we leave behind a year of carnage and brokenness.
A young man enters a packed movie theater and starts shooting people, at random.
Another young man shoots people in a mall.
And, the most shocking of all, a sleepy, all-American, Upper-Middle Class town is brought to its knees as the unthinkable happens.
Little, helpless, defenseless children are gunned down in their 1st grade classroom.
So much pain; so much sorrow.
Our world is broken, and if anyone did not believe this before they would be in major “denial” not to admit it now.
If we have learned anything from the events of this past year it should be that we need to change direction, take a different route.
We need a Savior.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says, “Ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives.
Whoever seeks, finds.
And to everyone who knocks the door is opened.”
The magi spent nearly two years searching for Jesus.
They did not give up their long search, even though they met a whole bunch of obstacles.
But, it would have been easier for them to just give up.
They could have decided to spend their gifts of “gold, frankincense, and myrrh” on something else.
If they were living in the 21st Century they could have bought a zillion lottery tickets.
They could have invested their money in a pension plan.
They could have purchased real-estate.
You name it!!!
Any of these things would have seemed, by the world’s standards, to make more sense than to follow some star and give these treasures to the toddler Son of a peasant woman and her husband.
But again, these guys were serious in their spiritual quest.
Perhaps they had found that money does not ultimately satisfy.
Maybe they knew how fleeting are the material aspects of this life.
Perhaps their interior longing for a meaningful existence was too great to throw their lives away on junk.
They had seen a “star in the east.”
No doubt, they had read the reports of the prophets of old.
They knew there was a God Who had promised something better than what they could currently see and experience.
Had they seen the in-breaking of something new and promising?
They wanted to know what it meant.
Could it mean that the long sought Messiah had finally arrived?
Could it be that God had finally come into this world of disarray in order to right the wrongs and save the lost?
What better place to go and find out than to the epi-center of religion—Jerusalem?
So they went to the holiest of holy places and asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him.”
But, apparently, the epi-center of religion was being ruled by a very troubled and ill king.
King Herod was not willing to take the chance that he would have to share the spotlight with someone else.
He was out for himself.
He was completely inwardly focused.
He was nervous and insecure.
In his insanity he had ordered the killing of his brother-in-law, his uncle, and then his wife.
He even went on to execute his mother-in-law, a son, and then two more sons.
No wonder we are told in verse 3 that when Herod heard about the birth of Christ, “he was troubled, and everyone in Jerusalem was troubled with him.”
When madness seems to be winning and instability abounds—everyone becomes a bit troubled.
Just look at the big debates which are taking place over what to do about guns in the wake of an outbreak of mass shootings!!!
People are troubled.
People are searching.
Some are stock piling more weapons in order to fight fire with fire.