By Greg Steele
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Jasper
Focal Passage: Matthew 2:1-11
There are some popular misconceptions about these magi. Most of us get our idea about these individuals from songs, cards and poems rather than from theologians. First, most people assume there were three because of the song, “We Three Kings,” and because they gave three gifts. But we’re never told how many there were.
There could have been two, three, or 23. They were said to be kings, though the text doesn’t say that either. They were said to be representatives of three families of Shem, Ham and Japeth and therefore one of them is pictured as an Ethiopian. Their names are given as Caspar, Balthazar and Melchior.
Now frankly, the only thing we know about these wise men is some history and what is said in Matthew. We know it probably took an entire caravan to carry supplies as these brave men embarked on a journey of almost 900 miles. Also, many people wrongly assume the wise men appeared the night Jesus was born, probably because our Nativity scenes have the magi present with the shepherds and Jesus in the manger.
Most scholars believe they were the most educated, intelligent men of the ancient world. They were most likely from Persia or Babylon, which is modern day Iraq and Iran. These wise men were a network of intelligent, gifted and educated men who were an elevated class among their people. Their counsel and insight was sought by many.
Their former leader was none other than the Jewish prophet Daniel. Fascinating? Now don’t you think as the leader of these well-educated men that he introduced them to the history of Israel and the promise of the Messiah? So these Magi would know about the coming Messiah and they would be very connected to it through Daniel.
When the Wise Men left Persia, they didn’t have Google Maps or a GPS to program their destination into. There was no voice saying, “Right turn at the Jordan River.” They had something better. God sent them a light in the sky to guide them.
And when the star stopped where Jesus was, Scripture says they entered the house and found Mary and Jesus and they fell to their knees and they worshiped Him. You see worship is about giving not getting! The Wise Men came to give something not get something. The moment they started on this long, rough journey, they had already started giving their time, efforts, comforts and treasures.
They didn’t come seeking a blessing, but to give honor to the King of Kings. To worship God is to give Him what is due Him; our praise, honor, material things and our whole life.
We worship Him for WHO He is, not just for WHAT He has given us or what we can get out of Him. We worship Him because He is God, period, not just because He met our needs and answered our prayers. Let’s focus our worship on the worthiness of God and not just His usefulness.
The wise men met Him. Worship took place that day because they encountered Jesus. Worship is an encounter with God, with the King of the Jews, the Christ, the Messiah. The purpose of their visit was fulfilled — they worshiped Jesus! Take Jesus away, and no worship would have taken place. If there’s only Joseph and Mary, nothing would have happened.
Worship is defined in the Bible as the surrender of our very lives to Christ (Romans 12:1-2). It is demonstrated by how we live and how we give. Let’s seek Him with all our hearts and WORSHIP HIM. B&R — Steele is pastor of First Baptist Church, Jasper.