Don’t Stop Short
by Impact Church
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” (Matthew 2:1-2)
This narrative immediately following the birth of Jesus is straightforward and direct. It is simple to comprehend and understand; Jesus was born, and men came to worship Him. However as is the case with most of scripture, there are so many truths and so much revelation that lies just underneath the easily accessible surface. This passage is full of grace and glory and would take pages to unwrap its fullness. It teaches us of God’s nature, His sovereignty, and of His power. It provokes us out of our convenience and instructs mankind how to appropriately respond to His coming.
To fully understand the depth of what is transpiring we must first understand who these strange travelers are. These “Wise men from the East” are the most unlikely of worship candidates. They are not Jews. They are not students of Judaism culture, they are not well-versed in the writings of the prophets, nor are they fully aware of the generations who have waited in eager expectation for a Messiah. They are called Magi. The same root where we get our word magic or magician. They are sorcerers from Babylon who were very interested in astronomy and astrology. These Magi would study the placement and alignment of stars and planets and use that information to make conclusions about future events and forthcoming happenings. They were known and respected for their wisdom and their learning.
In their study, they came across a star that seemed misplaced and could not be identified. Anything out of the ordinary they would consider to be an omen or a secret message that needed investigation and interpretation. This star lead them to the nation of Israel and then to the city of Jerusalem where they spoke with King Herod and lastly to a little town in the region of Judaea called Bethlehem. As they had anticipated so many times before, they expected that this star would bring revelation, understanding, and wisdom. They were hoping it would answer ancient questions and offer solutions for longstanding uncertainties. Their sight was on the furthest and highest terrestrial actuality they could see; the stars.
Many have stopped here to worship. Much of mankind has ended its search and exploration at the extent of earthbound realities and there we have created idols. Much of history records cultures who have worshipped the sun, water, or the moon. Before we criticize their foolishness though, our modern cultures have created gods of our own just as laughable. Many have chosen to idolize wealth, health, recognition, or fame. However, as is the case here, God only uses the vastness and grandness of the natural world to point to something much more wondrous and astonishing.
The star was not to be the object of revelation or the answer to unsolved ancient queries. God used that which the Magi had looked to for centuries to point to something greater and grander; something, rather a someone, who actually deserved worship. The star was not the object to be worshipped, it was a miraculous sign in the hands of an Almighty God to direct the Magi’s attention to the wonder of the Christ being born into the world He created. On this infant’s shoulders rested the hope of all mankind. He is our savior!
This Christmas do not stop short to idolize the beauty or wonder of the things we can see. They are just signs pointing us to the wonder of all the ages; Jesus.