When you read the titled of this week’s blog, you probably thought “Christmas?” Aren’t we done with that? It’s past New Year’s Day already!” I know, and yes, the Christmas decorations are gone from my house too. That is, with the exception of one decoration that remains out in our house. I keep part of our nativity set out on purpose so that we can take part in what we call ‘The Day of Kings.’ I admit, it’s sort of my made up holiday that combines the traditional church observance of Epiphany with some of my own ideas designed to bring our family Christmas celebration gently to a close. I set the table with special dinnerware, and set up our Wise men’s display in the center complete with tent and accessories. Then, I place a small gold wrapped gift at each plate and then serve Chinese food (because the wise men came from the east! Ha!) Then we spend time during the meal talking about the story of the visit of the Maji.
There is a lot of speculation about when these men actually arrived to see Jesus. Some traditions insist that it was quickly after his birth in as few as 13 days. Others point to the fact that Jesus was in a “house” and not a “stable” (Matt 2:11), that He was called a “child” and not a “baby” (Matt. 3:9), and that Herod killed all the boys under age 2 for a reason as an indication that their arrival was perhaps a year or more after his birth. While the timing makes for interesting discussion, I think the more important focus should be on what we can learn from them and apply to our lives today.
…Magi from the east came to Jerusalem2 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.” – Matthew 2:1-2
I’ve often wondered what made these men pack up their belongings and embark on such a long journey through possibly dangerous country following an astrological phenomenon to find an unknown king in another land. Obviously they were students of the stars, but surely, they weren’t the only ones who were watching the heavens at this time. What made them, and not them others, see something so significant in the night sky that it compelled them to set aside their families and occupations for a time to make such a journey?
And have you ever considered the transformation that took place in them along the way? They began in a foreign land likely as unbelievers in the God of Israel, but by the time they stood before of the Holy Child, they bowed down and worshiped Him (Matt. 2:11) This was a real trip along actual roads, through real cities, but it was also a journey of faith that ended up transforming them from men who were curious about the God who had revealed Himself in the heavens to ones who met the Savior face to face.
I think that’s a picture of how God operates in the lives of all of us. Romans 1 makes it clear that God’s power and character are evident in creation. His truth is written in the fabric of the universe, so we can perceive His existence in the natural order of things. Now, it’s rarely enough to look at flowers, hear a thunderstorm or marvel at a starry night and as a result enter into a relationship with the Lord, but it is enough to get a person started on their journey. They can be moved to say “Wow, that’s amazing. I want to know more.” And then like God led the wisemen, He will direct a person step-by-step, mile-by-mile, until they come face to face with the Savior, Jesus Christ.
So where are you on your journey of faith?
Are you marveling at something God has done and want to know more?
Are you moving toward Him slowly and steadily?
Have you started your journey and been side-tracked?
Have you bowed your knees before Him, and acknowledged Him as Savior?
Are you on your journey back home to take the good news with you?
As you file away Christmas 2012, reflect on the journey of the wise men and take the lesson on their lives into 2013. Just remember, wherever you are in your relationship with God through Jesus Christ, there is always further to go. This is a journey with no destination until we are finally at home with Him!