The Voice of a Few Wise Men
Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” ()
Allow me to once again speculate as to who these wise men were. I wrote about these wise men in 2015 in a message titled “Wise Men,” and then again in 2017 in a message titled “Truth Made Clear.” For those of you with exceptionally good memories, some of this material will be a repeat of those articles.
Matthew tells us these men came from “eastern lands.” We have often heard these wise men called “magi.” This is because Matthew wrote in Greek, and the Greek word is “μάγοι” (magoi). This was the title used for the priests and sages of the Babylonians and the Persians. Since they brought gifts consistent with the region of Arabia, we assume they were from that area.
We are certain that they were Gentiles and also that they did not belong to the nation of Israel. We see in this the beginnings of Jesus’ victory over darkness. The devil worked for many years and in many ways to blind the hearts and minds of the Gentiles. The world was filled with many religions and philosophies that ran contrary to Scriptural teachings. However, in spite of these obstacles, magi from the east were among the first to recognize the Lord’s Messiah. They traveled far to see the One born King of the Jews.
They did not know where to go, so they went to Jerusalem and made inquiry. If you are looking for the One born King of the Jews, what better place to start than in the capital city of the Jewish nation. In Jerusalem, they found the people ignorant and unprepared for the birth of their king.
The magi stated their purpose in traveling and inquiring. They said, “We have come to worship him.”
Their purpose was so clear that when Herod wanted to use them to find the child, Herod said, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!” (Matthew 2:8, NLT) The magi had come to worship so Herod pretended that he wanted to worship also.
The text tells us:
When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. ()
When they entered the house they bowed down and worshipped.
They traveled far. They made inquiry. They brought gifts. They did it all so that they could worship Him.
God prepared these wise men in advance for this day, and in their voice, we continue to learn an important lesson. In their worship, we learn that we must worship also.
The Jews who had the temple and the rituals of worship did not recognize the time of their visitation. The Jews had the Law of Moses that spoke of the Messiah to come and was written to prepare hearts for His coming. The Jews had the temple, which was the house of God and provided a picture of heavenly things. The Jews had the ritual sacrifices which prefigured the sacrifice God would make in order to save His people from their sins. The Jews had the Passover and the festivals, all of which pointed to the coming Messiah. They had practices and forms that had been handed down to them from Moses and the prophets. However, although they had the practice or form of worship, they did not have a heart of worship. Their worship was proper in form and practice, but it did not reach as far as their hearts. As John 4:23 tells us:
But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. ()
The Father is looking for those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. He is not looking for rituals, sacrifices and the ceremonies of the law. He says He is looking for those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. Today, from the wise men, we will learn a few lessons about worship
First, we learn that we must adjust our lives to worship God.
There is no worship without some cost.
The wise men traveled far to worship Jesus. They had to make arrangements with their jobs back home. They had to make arrangements to have their affairs looked after. They had to prepare for the journey. They had to prepare camels, donkeys, food, routes for travel, finances and all that goes into both a prolonged absence and a long journey.
There is no worship without cost. King David expressed this principle when he was offered the means to give a sacrifice that would have cost him nothing.
At one point in his reign, King David sinned against God. When David was getting right with God and repenting, he wanted to offer a sacrifice. He wanted to offer an ox, and a farmer had some. So, David said, “Sell me your ox if you would please.” And the farmer told David, “Oh no, I will gladly give it to you. David then told the farmer:
No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing. ()
Worshipping God and receiving His Messiah requires that we make some adjustments in our lives. It might mean one has to give up sleeping in on Sunday, partying late on Saturday or watching television shows on Wednesday. One cannot expect to accept Jesus and not have to make any adjustments in his or her life. It just does not work that way. Acknowledging Jesus as Lord is very inconvenient for the flesh. In fact, the flesh and its lusts must die. The Christian life has been likened to a journey. John Bunyan wrote a book called “Pilgrim’s Progress” that uses an allegory of a journey to depict the Christian’s life. Like the wise men’s journey, our own journey is not undertaken without some adjustments, work and changes.
The wise men teach us that true worship requires some adjusting of our lives.
When we have made adjustments, we will find that we also must use our resources to honor Him.
The wise men offered gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. These are not cheap gifts. Far from it, these are the most costly gifts they could give. Admittedly, we do not know in what measure they gave these gifts. However, these gifts were of such value that even the transporting of these gifts posed a danger. Even today, it is not generally safe to walk around with a box of gold or, at least, to let it be known that you are walking around with a box of gold.
Our resources are where the rubber meets the road when it comes to our worship. Those who truly believe, give of their resources; God promises to bless those who give. The Scriptures tell us:
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. ()
God loves a cheerful giver! This is consistent with what we learned from John 4:23 that God is looking for those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. A true heart of worship is marked by using one’s resources to honor God. I said we must use our resources to honor God, but for the believer this is a cause for joy, not compulsion. For the heart full of love for God, giving is a privilege. Through our giving, we get to participate in what God is doing in the world.
The wise men participated in welcoming the Savior to the world and in announcing His arrival. We get to participate in both the spread of that good news and in the encouragement and building up of our fellow believers. For the eye of faith, God is doing great and mighty things in this world~things that are exciting to be a part of.
For those of us here in Clearwater, I can think of nothing more exciting than being a part of what God is doing right here in our midst. There are exciting little children growing up here that thrill me to no end. Oh the mighty work God is doing in our midst! Not too many years ago, our youth were the little children, now look at what they are becoming! Speaking of children, some of these wonderful little children that we are blessed with today are the children of those that grew up here in this very church. The miracle of God’s work among us is seen in families that love Jesus, children that love Jesus and a Church that bows continually before God and gives of its resources to glorify Him who was born King of the Jews. This is especially exciting and gratifying for those who have a stake in it, for those who have given of their resources to make it happen.
So far, we have seen from the wise men that true worshippers will adjust their lives to God’s presence and honor Him with their resources. In the wise men, we also see that true worshippers will humble themselves in His presence.
Matthew 2:11 tells us:
They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. ()
It is easy to pass over the fact that the first thing they did when they saw the child was to bow down. The Greek words Matthew used to say “bowed down and worship” were “πεσόντες προσεκύνησαν.” (pesontes prosekynesan) The idea behind these words is to fall down or prostrate one’s self and kiss the ground before a superior.
Although Jesus was only a baby, these men humbled themselves before Him. Being rich, educated and powerful men, this would have been one of the most difficult things they did. Sometimes it is easier to make adjustments in our lives and to give of our resources than to humble ourselves.
Do not think to yourself “Oh, I have got this one down.”
Have you humbled yourself before your wife or husband?
Have you humbled yourself before your children, your parents, your siblings?
The reason I ask these questions is because of what the Lord says in 1 John 4:20. It says there:
If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? ()
Of course, we do not humble ourselves before our fellow believer the same way we do before God, but love requires that we give up our pride in order to do what is best for the other person. When you or I have difficulty saying we are sorry, we demonstrate just how resistant we are to truly humbling ourselves.
We are to subject ourselves to God, and our will to His will. However, the New Testament makes it clear that our subjection does not end there. Ephesians 5:21 tells us:
I know of no better test to tell me whether I am humbling myself before God than to check my heart in relation to other people.
We have said:
We must worship Him:
• by adjusting our lives to His presence.
• by using our resources to honor Him.
• by humbling ourselves before Him.
After learning from the voice of the wise men, can we say of ourselves that we are wise?