Summary: Today, we look at the wise men. There is one thing which sets this God encounter apart from the others in the Nativity story. Mary, the shepherds and Joseph weren’t expecting or looking for anything special to happen in their lives. The Magi weren’t eithe
The Passion of the Magi
Jeff Vanderhoof writes, Earlier this month I was privileged to fly to England with the incoming class of ordinands, the Bishop, and others from our Conference. It was an outstanding experience, one that I will treasure for years to come. Part of me expected to experience the presence of God in a special way as I entered the ancient cathedrals where saints and sinners throughout the centuries have bowed before God and worshipped Him. Or maybe I would share in Wesley’s "Aldersgate" experience as I stood on that same street. It didn’t happen. Not on Aldersgate Street, not in York Minster, not even in Westminster Abbey. I’m not saying God wasn’t present there, but I didn’t have a special experience like I had hoped for. Ironically, I found that the spacious cathedrals captivated me and drew me to focus more on the architecture of the building, rather than on the God the building was supposed to represent. He writes, One thing I learned on this trip to England is that God isn’t limited to spacious cathedrals, or ancient places. God can reach out and touch us anywhere, at anytime. That’s part of the beauty of serving a God without borders, and I find great comfort in knowing that God cares enough to reach out to us wherever we are.
Throughout this Advent season, we have seen how God encounters people in different ways and different places. A God encounter is not you going to look for God. It’s when God comes looking for you and supernaturally makes an appearance in your life and calls you to him. Thus far, we have looked at Mary, the shepherds and Joseph and their encounters with God. Today, we look at the wise men. There is one thing which sets this God encounter apart from the others in the Nativity story. Mary, the shepherds and Joseph weren’t expecting or looking for anything special to happen in their lives. The Magi weren’t either but they were looking for God to do something miraculous in the world. And because of that, they saw that God was about to do something new and decided to go and see this new thing. Their experience affirms what Henry Blackaby discovered in his study, Experiencing God. Discovering God’s will for your life is not so much about receiving God’s vision for you as it is you going and joining in what God is already doing in the world. Two weeks ago, I asked how many of you had received a God encounter and not many of you raised your hands. Today, this is something all of us can do: join in on what God is already doing. It is in the Magi that we see what it takes to join God in mission and to pursue a passionate relationship with Jesus.
First, we need to look for the signs of what God is doing. How did the wisemen know what to look for and that the time was near for God to do something new? The magi or wisemen were professionals, trained to study the stars and read the signs. What we know is they were pagans or heathens who did not know the One true God. But they paid close attention to the prophecy of Daniel 9 which speaks of 70 7’s or 490 years between the time when King Cyrus of Babylon released Ezra & Nehemiah and other Jews who were in captivity to return to Israel and restore the walls of Jerusalem and the time when the savior came. So for 483 years, the wise men kept track from generation to generation and looked for the sign of the coming of the Messiah.
Evelyn Benson has written about her 50th birthday. She says, Don’t you hate those with a zero on them? Those are the toughest ones. “ My friend Betty had invited me to a dinner party the night of my birthday and that made me feel a little better. As Evelyn started out the house, there were some young girls jumping rope and they were singing rhymes, the very same rhymes I sang 40 years ago! I wanted to be 8 again. I didn’t want to be 50. When I shared this with my dinner companion that I didn’t want to be 50 and wanted to be 8 again, everyone around the table shared how old they were. They were all older than me. My friend Betty said she was 85. I didn’t know that. And then she said, You know people called me a tomboy when I was growing up because I loved to climb trees and I loved to climb hills because I wanted to see a little farther than before. I just knew if I could see a little farther, there was always something better on the horizon And at 85 in my heart, I still climb trees and climb hills so I can see a little farther and see something more beautiful. That’s what the magi did and what we called to do as well.