We Have Come To Worship Him
Key Verse 2:2
“And asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.’”
Christmas has a beautiful meaning. It is the story about God whose love for his lost children compelled him to send his Only Son into the world to bring his lost children back to himself. In essence it is the story of God who was searching for his lost children to bring them back home to himself. But in this unique story about the Magi we witness an amazing story of those who in turn were searching for God. Mysterious Magi from the east in search of God! Magi whose search for the true God was not in vain but which ended in finding God and accomplishing what they had come to do when they had finally found him. Matthew alone records the story of the Magi as part of the Christmas story. After telling us of the birth of the Savior child, according to prophesy, Matthew turns his attention to the Magi. He couldn’t pass up a story as unique and significant as that of the Magi. Why did he of all gospel writers record it? What in it made it such an intricate part of the Christmas story to be told and retold generation after generation?
The story of Christmas as told in the gospels is clearly that of the birth of the Savior of the world, Jesus. He had been promised long ago in the Scriptures and prophesied to come through an virgin girl. From the stories we know that the virgin girl Mary was visited by an angel from heaven who announced to her that God in his mercy has favored her to be the bearer of the Messiah child. Mary was only a young girl at the time, a young girl engaged to be married to Joseph. When the angel announced God’s will to Mary, Mary was at first troubled because she had had many dreams for her life with Joseph. She had never imagined that anything would come in the way of her marriage to Joseph. And now an angel had come to tell her that she would have to be pregnant out of wedlock in order for the prophesy to come true. He had come to tell her that she would have to give up her dreams and hopes of a happy marriage in order to fulfill the will of God in her life. Hehad come to tell her the good news that the Savior was to be birthed and raised by her, yet what was the best news ever would also be bad news for her reputation as a woman. She would have to face criticism, condemnation, misunderstanding and worst of all, the rejection of Joseph. But Mary reflected on this and answered the messenger angel with words that still ring in our hearts today: “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.” How could she? How could she agree to this? She could because she accepted her role as God’s servant, and that always comes with a measure of sacrifice and suffering. She could because she also trusted the word of God, and God’s will to her because she knew that the will of God is far more important to her and the world than her own petty and small will for comfort and happiness. Mary was a young girl when she was graced with such a tremendous responsibility. But Mary was a giant of a woman— the best this world has ever known— because she was ready to obey the will of God even at the cost of her own life and comfort. How petty are some people whose only interest is their own, who would do nothing more than that which benefits only them. But in Mary we see the beginning of the Christmas story which begins with sacrifice and ends in nothing less than the salvation of God’s children.
What of Joseph? Joseph could have been chalked off as a petty man who could have done nothing more than sulk at the prospect of what had happened to Mary. But in him we also see a giant of a man whose heart was big enough to embrace the will of God— which was to take care of Mary and her Son until God fulfills his purpose in them. Joseph is very much part of the Christmas story. Later on we see shepherds in the field being part of the Christmas story as well. At the word of God, they leave their sheep in the field and go to witness the birth of the Savior in a manger in a stable. They too are amazing people, who did not have any preconceived ideas about what God would do. They were given a sign, a baby in a manger, and they simply accept the sign and go to worship him. The story then revolves around God who sent his son to the world to be the Savior of the world. But it does not end there. Matthew the author of Matthew’s gospel records a unique event in the story. The event takes place perhaps within two years of the birth of the Savior. The baby had already been born when they left their far off country at the guidance of a star and go in search for him. Matthew tells us no more than they were Magi form the east. But then he tells us the most important truths regarding these mysterious Magi. He tells us that they were in search of the King of the Jews, and he tells us what they did when they found him. From these facts we can learn a lifetime worth of spiritual treasure to hold on to as part of our joy of Christmas.
Read verses 1, 2. “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.’” They are known as “Wise Men,”— wise men who had come from the East— the Orient. They were on a journey of a lifetime. And their purpose was one.
First, the Magi were searching for the Truth. They were in essence searching for God. They were searching for the Savior of their souls. And they were on this quest because they loved the truth— they loved God— and their hearts longed to love God as God should be loved. In verse 2 we hear their request upon reaching Jerusalem: “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” Why had the Magi come such a long distance then? These words tell us that they wanted to worship the newborn King of the Jews. It is amazing that Magi who were intellectual and wise came looking for a baby, Jesus, to worship him. Here are the intriguing questions again: Why would they come in search of him? Why would they want to worship him? And we say this because we know what he world is like and what people are mostly like. These Magi had everything a human being would ever want in this world— honor, wealth and great learning. So it is hard to understand that men who had everything this world can offer would even come this long way in search of a baby— and for the strange purpose of worshiping him. But in truth this is not strange at all. Their action is the expression of people’s real inner heart. All people want to search for God. Its a deep, hidden desire in the heart of every human being to search for God. Outwardly, people seem to be seeking the things of the world. But if we dig deep, deeper than the heart, we see that in people’s deep hearts they are really searching for God. They are searching for him in order to find God— and upon finding him we are also sure that the purpose of such a search is to worship him. But why?
Here is why. God gave his people this command in Deuteronomy 6:5, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” We think its just a command. But it’s not! Through it, God exposed our deepest desire to love God, honor him and worship him as God. We usually think human beings are complicated, needing and wanting many things. But in truth people are not that complicated. Simply, human beings only want to love and be loved in return. People are forever seeking the perfect love, that we may love perfectly and be loved perfectly in return. For this reason, we have many problems among us. Husbands want to be loved absolutely by their wives, and wives want to be loved absolutely by their husbands. Children do not care if they are rich or poor, but they only want to love their parents and be loved by their parents. And this desire is not human in origin, nor can it be truly satisfied humanly in a human way. The origin of all desires of love is God. So to love others and be loved in return is in fact an expression of loving God. All people whether they know it or not, have a deep desire to express their love for God and in return be loved by God. The Magi from the east came all the way in search of the baby Jesus who is God— and they came in order to express their love for him. They had everything any man in the world may need, even loved ones back home. But the truth is that regardless of how much we love and are loved in our lives, true love can never be satisfied! Nothing on earth can satisfy our desire to love and to be loved. No man— no thing— can provide us with the love that we need. At the same time, nothing is worthy of our love but God. The Magi had this truth in their hearts — and that is why we call their search also a search for truth— a search for God— a search for true love. They needed to love God and be loved by God in order to be happy— in order to be fully satisfied in life. And what they did is remarkably the great expression of this truth. What they did is in the heart of every person, but not every person shows it with the intensity that these Magi did. Matthew remarkably records it because what they did is an expression of what most people want to do but do not do because they let themselves get trapped by the things of the world. Anyway, the Magi they left everything in their world and set out on a long journey in search of the baby who is God. They wanted to love him. They loved him. They expressed their love for him by leaving all things behind to search for the one they love, for the one their hearts longed to love.
To love God and be loved by God is not a small thing. We cannot ignore this basic desire in our hearts, otherwise, we have no meaning to our lives— nor can we be truly happy. We may be loved by all people and we may love many as well, but unless we turn our hearts to loving God as God would be loved, we cannot truly be happy. It is so important that we love God— to love him this Christmas and always— in the same fervor these Magi showed in their 2 year struggle. Sometimes we are burdened by the world. Life seems to be too hard and laden with many cares. At a time like this, we must seek God as the Magi did and we must love him deeply.
Second, the Magi came to worship him. But why worship him? For many reasons, but mostly because he is the only one worthy of our worship. Read verses 5 and 6. These verses are the prophesy that the religious leaders dug up in order to satisfy Herod’s curiosity as to where the Savior was to be born. Herod was a wicked king. The Magi made a mistake to think that the King of the Jews would be born in a palace. They had searched all their lives for him. They had found the guiding star that led to him. But in a moment of emotion, they lost sight of God’s hand of guidance. They yet needed to fully submit to the guidance of God, and not be hindered by human reasoning and human emotion. After they had made the mistake of being caught by the evil King Herod, they left and that was the end of their meeting with him. But the evil king could not rest. He called together an emergency Bible study in order to find out the whereabouts of Jesus, and the religious leaders led him to the whereabouts of the Savior. In all this, Matthew records the prophesy which the priests gave the evil king, and in it we find a wealth of truth about Jesus. We find out who he really is, what he came to do and why he of all is worthy of our worship. Listen to the words of the prophesy. Look again at verses 5-6. “But you Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.”
Our Lord Jesus is the Ruler. Most rulers are cruel, and selfish. The best of them are at best average yet truly unworthy. But Jesus is different. What kind of Ruler is Jesus? Jesus is a shepherd— he is our Shepherd. In John 10:11, Jesus tells us what the shepherd does. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Jesus is the Son of God, the Prince of the heavenly kingdom. With the word of his mouth he can subdue all nations and crush all his enemies and bring them to their knees. But he didn’t. What did Jesus do as the Son of God? Jesus came to this world to be your shepherd and my shepherd. He came to us in a manger in a stable. He grew up among us in poverty and in simplicity. He touched our sores and cleansed them. He restored our sight. He became a father to us when we were truly fatherless in a spiritually orphaned world. He is our friend. Imagine why Matthew records this story and this particular prophesy. Matthew was one of the worst people who exist on the earth— most selfish and most wicked. He took advantage of the helpless and drained them of their little money. He did not care who suffered if he could only make a little more money. How terrible was Matthew collecting taxes from those who could not afford to feed their families. How evil he was to make others suffer his own greed. Greed is as terrible a sin as selfishness is. He was a wicked man caring for no one except himself. Perhaps he would have even taught his own children the art of money making the quick way. Anyway we can say much about Matthew, but we want to only mention that Matthew recorded this story because Jesus the Ruler the Shepherd became a friend even to a man like him. We cannot imagine the times that Matthew must have wept when he thought where his life was going with out his friend Jesus. Matthew was so deeply moved by Jesus’ friendship, he had to record the prophesy about this ruler friend who alone befriended him. Some of us can understand this, since friendship and love are hard to come by in this world. Finding a friend or finding love, someone to love us and whom we could love, someone who wants to be our friend is not so easy. Matthew was amazed at Jesus.
Jesus the shepherd friend really loved his disciples as his sons and daughters and bore with them until their spiritual eyes were opened to see the light of God— the heavenly kingdom and the glory of God. Finally, our Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd, was flogged, beaten and crucified on a cross. His blood poured out of his mutilated body as the best expression of his love for us sinners. He gave up his life to ransom ours from the depth of hell. When we come to him in faith, repenting of our sins and asking forgiveness, he forgives all our sins and gives us life— eternal life. Our Lord Jesus is worthy of our worship for he became our Lord and King and Savior.
Third, the Magi gave Jesus gifts. Look at verse 11. “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.” The Magi came this long distance in search of God. They were following their hearts’ desire to love God and to honor him as their God. Now that they came to where the baby Jesus was, how did they express their love and devotion to God? They worshipped him and they presented him with gifts that befit a king, a priest and a prophet. They regarded Jesus as God and they saw in him all their needs fulfilled. How precious and pure was their worship! From them we learn the true meaning of worship. Worship is to regard God as everything we need— to find in him all our needs fulfilled. At the same time, pure worship is to offer the best to him. The Magi did not come to receive something from Jesus. They came to offer him their best. They gave him all that they had. They poured out their lives to him and honored him as king. Jesus was just a poor baby lying in a crib. But the kingly Magi did not treat him with contempt as all others would do upon seeing something so small and seemingly insignificant. They did not give him their leftovers. They treated him as a king, giving him their best. They loved him with all their hearts and with all their souls and with all their strength. They treated him as worthy of their best— their all— their lives and their possessions.
Man and woman are made in the image of God. And the image of God— God’s character— is giving and sacrificial. God “gave his One and Only Son” (Jn. 3:16) to us. In the same way, God also made us to give to God our best. He made us to also share with others all good things that God has given us. When God shines his grace upon his people, it is God’s grace and purpose to share with God and with others all the good things God has poured into our lap. When our hearts’ desires is only want to get— to receive— to keep for ourselves what belongs to God, we cannot be happy because even if we have everything, our hearts are empty like a beggar’s heart. Christmas is God giving us the best. It should also be us giving God the best as well. When we give our best to God and to our fellow man, our hearts rejoice. Our hearts take a step upwards in faith and in hope and in love. Whatever we have belongs to God. But God did not give us so that we may squander on our pleasures, comforts and our own needs. God gave us everything so that we may give to him. Someday, every person will give an account before God of what he did with everything that God has given him or her, whether it is his life, his time or his possessions, etc. (Mt. 25:14-30) The Magi gave Jesus their best in an act of worship. We too must learn how to worship our Lord Jesus from our hearts. Jesus is a King, the most worthy of all. Please examine our hearts carefully and see what is most precious to us. Let us then give it to our Lord Jesus. Let us give our hearts to him. May God call young people into his history who are willing to search for the truth with sacrifice and effort as these Magi did. May he raise disciples for his kingdom who are not stingy and greedy with what they have, but with hearts that know the true meaning of sacrifice as we must know the true meaning of Christmas now and always. God bless you.