Summary: Have you ever thought that the Wise Men got the short end of the stick? The shepherds were given specific instructions. Wise Men on their own!
Those Stinkin’ Shepherds
They got the short end of the stick. It just wasn’t fair. They were supposed to be wise and would probably come a lot closer to figuring out the riddle than the shepherds could, but it still wasn’t fair. Why should they have to do all the research? Why did it it fall their lot to survey kings, read old prophecies, and rely only on their ability to read the stars? Why couldn’t the angel have visited them also? Was the angel choir on a “one night only” performance contract?
The wise men came to find Jesus, but they had no specific directions. They only had a star they could follow. Contrast that with those stinkin’ shepherds who were given specific directions about where Jesus was going to be born. How much more obvious can you get than “for there is born to you this day in the city of David …”?
With angel fanfare, bright lights, and practically an exact street address, is it any wonder the shepherds found the baby easily? There is no record of the shepherds having to stop and ask for directions. They didn’t even have to visit mapquest.com to find the straightest route. The Bible simply says they went to Bethlehem with haste and found Jesus only moments or hours after he was born.
On the other hand, the wise men could only travel at night and had to stop and ask directions. Also, many theologians contend that they didn’t arrive to see Jesus until days, weeks, or perhaps even months after he was born. In fact, in spite of what our Christmas carols have taught us, Matthew states they came into the house to visit Jesus, not into a stable.
The difference between the experience of the wise men and the shepherds speaks to us at the end of a year. Many may find themselves in a “shepherd” season. The time, directions, and exact location for your journey are clear. The specs are easy to follow. You get out of bed each morning and know exactly what to do, where to go, and what to expect next.
However, most of us are more likely in a “wise men” season. No specific directions. No exact instructions. We are simply plodding forward towards the dream.
It is certainly easier to follow during a shepherd season. But notice that both groups of men reached the goal and found their destination.
So, even if you’re feeling your way with no specifics — no angelic choir has split the heavenlies to point out the right pathway — keep following. Keep walking. Keep moving toward your destiny. Ask for help in finding your dream if you must. But don’t stop. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t give up on the journey. Your faithfulness to follow will make you wise.