Wise Men Still Seek Him

Today, January 6 marks Epiphany as observed in the western church. It ends the twelve days of Christmas and is traditionally a celebration of the visit of the Magi. Here is a reflection of the Magi. The story and response to Jesus is one of my favorite and I believe is extremely profound. Here is the thought I had this year when reading the passage again.

1 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, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

6  “ ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’ ”

7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
Mt 2:1–12 (ESV)

The Wise Men were not Jewish. They came from a far off place and were not immersed in Jewish culture. They came, however, looking for the promised Jewish king. They had some information that His birth would be heralded with a star. They looked to the heavens and when the observed they appearance of a new star, they recalled this prediction. They then set out to find and worship this king. On their way they interacted with Herod. Herod was Jewish and deeply immersed in Jewish culture. He, after finding out about this promised king, did not set out to bow down and worship. His power was threatened. He responded by killing children in an attempt to wipe out his completion for rule of Israel. These very powerful men reacted to the news of Jesus’ birth in different manners.

We have this same choice in front of us. When we are confronted by God (or anything for that matter) and all that acknowledging God entails, we have two choices. These are deep, heart level choices. They are not preferences about flavor or color. They are moral choices with serious consequences. We can choose to worship. Doing so is an acknowledgment of His rule. It requires me to lay aside my self and my self-service. It requires me to, instead, serve the one I worship. His values become my values and His priorities redefine mine. Alternatively, people are often more like Herod. They don’t usually go out and slaughter 2 year olds, but it is a difference in degree, not in kind. Often, when we are threatened and react in a way to protect our power and autonomy.

So, we are left with a choice. Will we worship God, or will we seek self interest? Will we respond with gifts or with violence? Will I be like the wise men or like Herod?

What lies deep in your heart and what will you do about it?

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