Vertical Worship – “Magi” (Devotional)

Magi

Yes I Will Look To Christ.

For airlines, rail companies and highways, Christmas is the busiest season of the year. People sail through the sky in flying machines, glide over iron rails in metal boxes, and drive down icy roads usually filled with expectation, anxiety, or some combination of the two.

All of this holiday travel was, in a way, prefigured and inaugurated by the first Christmas journey: a long, fraught road to Jerusalem.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

Matthew 2:1-2

The wise men could have been from any of the countries east of Israel known to Matthew: Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, or Yemen. We’re not told exactly which country, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that the wise men left the comfort of their homes, left their families and undertook a long sojourn through the desert with very few natural water sources, likely by camel (just remember that the next time your Christmas flight is delayed).

In those days, eastern people believed that the appearance of a new star in the night sky or celestial event such as a comet or supernova portended the birth of a king. So when the wise men saw a star over Israel, they figured a new king of the Jews had been born there. But when they arrived in Jerusalem, things took a left turn:

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 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.” 

Matthew 2:7-8
When people resolve in their hearts to seek out, discover and worship Christ, they are often interrupted and questioned along the way by those who feel their autonomy and self-determination is threatened by Jesus.

When Herod heard that wealthy, erudite scientists from the east had come to Israel to seek out and worship a new king other than himself, he felt jealous, insecure, and threatened. He pulled the wise men into his orbit, pretended to be interested in their research, and in effect conscripted them to become his spies, concealing his deceit with flattery and insincere language.

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. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 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. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

Matthew 2:9-12
When we fall down in worship and adoration of Christ the Savior, His radiance has a way of canceling out all the other worldly offers on the table.

Being in the presence of Jesus and looking to Him as supreme makes every shiny thing in this world dim. It brings clarity of what’s truly important. The wise men were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, but they still had a choice. They could have ignored the dream and reported their findings to Herod, fearing the repercussions that might come if they snuck away. Herod’s power was formidable, far-reaching, and ruthless. But one look at Jesus was all it took. They were never going back. 

This Christmas, wherever your travels may take you, whatever anxieties or interruptions or distractions may pull your focus away from the Christ child — be it family drama or logistics or finances or anything else — set your hearts and your minds fully on the grace that is given to you through Jesus in the manger. Turning your eyes to Jesus will bring all the ups and downs of the Christmas season into irrefutable perspective, the kind that brings freedom and joy.

Prayer and Practice:

Write down the five things that are most pulling your attention away from Jesus this Christmas season, the items foremost in your mind that are taking up your energy. Pray over each item, asking God to show himself sovereign over circumstances and to magnify Christ as supreme over them.

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