Matthew 2:7-12. 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.
Can we be honest? The whole wise men story is a bit strange and mysterious. Who are these wise men? What exactly is a wise man? How many wise men were there really? Should they be in my nativity set? And what about this star? Is it moving? Not moving? Is it a planet? A comet? An angel? But there is one part of this strange story that we are not left wondering about at all. The magi’s motivation – we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.
The magi have been waiting for generations for the advent of this king. They must have known the prophecy of the magi Balaam concerning a “star out of Judah” (Numbers 24:17). And of course they must have read the prophecies of the greatest of all magi, Daniel, the captive Jew turned Persian seer who foretold the advent of a divine king. And after years of waiting for this king, the magi knew their only response in this moment was to fall down and worship this heaven born prince of peace.
And that is our only proper response on this Christmas day as well. To fall down and worship. To worship the one who would be born to die that we might live. To worship the king of all creation who became the creation that he might serve you and me.
But watch out. There’s an enemy plotting against you today. Christmas day can easily turn into a Herodian trap. On the day when we are to worship our Savior King, other kings will seek to dethrone him. Whether today is a day of great family fun and excess, or a day of much sorrow or even regret, there is no day meant to distract us from our true purpose more than this day. Whether it’s the gifts, the parties, the gatherings, the feasting, the travel… or if it’s the sadness, the loneliness, the disappointment… any and all of these can steal worship away from the God who alone deserves it.
Or today can be a day to stop and reflect about what it all means. Who it all points to. Whether today is the joy of frankincense (the fragrance of life) or the sorrow of myrrh (the fragrance of death), let it be a day to bow before the Christ.
“To live is Christ” means you don’t need a star to guide you today. You have something, someone, much better. You have the indwelling life of Christ guiding your heart. The Spirit of God has risen in you. Follow him through the life and death of Jesus. Follow him to a place of worship. And may we all find our exceeding great joy there at his feet.
What other “king” might distract you today from worshiping Christ?
You in Christ
How can your union with the life and death of Jesus guide your worship today?
Christ in you
What specifically will you do to worship King Jesus today? Will you present him your joy (frankincense)? Your sorrow (myrrh)? Your value (gold)?
Playlist: Christmas Worship.
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