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 story of the magi is a largely untapped metaphor of enormous power in our understanding of how God wants us to live our lives. It is especially appropriate to the time of year it is told — just before the new year begins — for most of us make some sort of New Year's resolutions; we see the change of calendar year as a time to renew our goals, push the important priorities of our lives back to the front of the line, when day-to-day living has slowly shuffled them back in our daily to-do list.
The metaphor does not even need to be explained, it is so readily apparent when we simply look at how these “wise men” behaved. First, and most important, they dedicated their lives to seeking and worshipping the Son of God. They were filled with passion to find Christ, no matter how far away he might be. They understood that there was a new king and they sought Him. And how did they find Him? They followed the light.
Second, when they found Christ, they humbled themselves before Him. This was not King Solomon, sitting on a great throne in a great palace with great pillars and walls, covered everywhere in gold. This was a newborn baby in a hick town, who was not even in a building of human habitat. He was lying in a feed trough in a barn! But they saw through the trappings of the world with a vision of His glory that was entirely spiritual, and were so convinced by their wisdom that they fell to their knees and worshipped. And they gave Him gifts of their worldly treasure, precious and expensive. They didn't drop a twenty in a collection plate!
Finally, they gave God time to work. One of the most remarkable attributes of God's incarnation on earth, was that he emptied Himself of His divine power and humbled Himself to be one of us. Christ, as a newborn baby, was pretty much like every other baby in knowledge, power, etc. He had to learn how to speak. He had to be toilet-trained. He cried when He was hungry. He was utterly weak and vulnerable. But over the course of years, as He grew to adulthood, He grew into His power and His destiny. The magi gave themselves up to the Son of God who would become.
If God works over time — and He does — who are we to expect instant success and gratification. “A journey of a thousand miles,” the saying goes, “begins with a single step.” The journey to find and know Christ, also, must be made one step at a time, one day at a time.
Lord Christ, let me seek you this year as the magi sought you. Amen.
~ Mason Barge
Editor, Daily Prayer