To me, one of the most amazing Christmas stories is the story of the Magi who had traveled a great distance to come and worship the Child Jesus. The magi were a caste of wise men specializing in astrology, medicine, and the natural sciences. We don’t know how far they had traveled to worship the Child Jesus, but we do know it must’ve been some distance as Herod killed all the male children two years old and younger based on the information the magi had shared with him as to when they first saw the star in the East. Whatever kind of wise men they had been before this journey they truly became wise when they sought to worship Jesus. They came to Jerusalem which was the capital of Israel, at that time (as it is today), expecting all of Israel to be worshipping at the feet of the king of the Jews. We read these words in Matthew 2 – “Then Herod secretly called the Magi, and ascertained from them the time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, “Go and make careful search for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, that I too may come and worship”. And having heard the king, they went their way; and lo, the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them, until it came and stood over where the Child was. And when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. They came into the house and saw the Child with Mary his mother, and fell down and worshipped Him; and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh”, (Matt. 2:7-12 NASB).
What I love about this story is that these men, however many they were, came all that distance and all that inconvenience for the purpose of worshipping the Child Jesus. In bringing out their gifts, this was just part of their worship experience. Worship in the Greek language in this passage means to fall down, prostrate oneself, to adore on bended knee and the meaning relates particularly to the recognition of authority and the bodily expression that is involved in such worship. These men had a true worship experience, honoring Christ for who He is and being willing to give Him that which is valuable to them. We worship Jesus because He is worthy of our worship by the fact that He is perfect, just and the Almighty Creator of the universe. These things make Him the object for the very best gift that we can bring.
Worship is the true language of faith. When we worship the magnificence of God in Christ, our souls and our eyes are opened to a great horizon. We should bow before Jesus in recognition of His authority, power, and majesty. I wonder if when you’re preparing to go to church this Sunday, are you are preparing to worship Jesus or just going through the motions of going to church? I wonder if I, as I prepare my message for Sunday, if it is an act of worship or simply the duty of service? To worship Christ means to focus entirely on Him and to pay Him homage and the honor that is due Him. If we truly worship Jesus, our horizons will be expanded, and our lives will be changed. These wise men went home bigger and better than they’ve ever been before. Though they didn’t find all Jerusalem worshipping at Jesus’s feet, nonetheless they gave Jesus the very best they had. They recognized the strange and awesome awareness that something divine dwelt in this young life.
True worship leads to sacrifice, but many times it also leads to discernment. After finding Jesus and worshipping Him, the magi were warned by God not to return to Jerusalem as they had intended. They discerned that Herod had a very different purpose in finding the Christ Child then the one he had stated to them. Finding Jesus may mean that your life path will take a very different direction than the one you thought you were traveling. That’s certainly true in my life, as God took me a very different direction beyond my wildest imagination over the last 37 years. My prayer for all of us, as Christ followers, is that this Christmas we will find the true meaning of worshipping Jesus and yielding the very best that we have for Him. May God be glorified through every act of worship that we perform this Christmas season.
Pastor Rich Sivo