Advent Series Day 25- come and worship

Merry Christmas! It has not been easy to get to today. We have endured long car rides and busy airports. We have baked, cleaned, decorated, and crafted. We have worked extra hours. We have navigated sticky family dynamics.

There has been a lot to do. Some has been beautiful. Much has been stressful. Yet, we do it every year. We do it because we think it is worth it. We think that seeing family, watching joy on kids’ faces, and celebrating with those we love is worth extra effort.

So, it is appropriate to wrap up the Advent series by looking at a group who also had a lot to overcome. Yet, they thought it was worth it.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.  – Matthew 2:1-12

“Magi” comes from a Persian word referring to an expert in studying the stars. The Magi were worshipers of the heavens, not of Yahweh. Yet, when this star appeared, they recognized that it meant something more. They came to worship the Messiah.

The Magi likely came from Babylon, since that was a center for the study of the stars. A caravan would have to travel about 1000 miles to get from Babylon to Jerusalem. This was not a journey of days. It was a journey of months. Perhaps even a year. {The idea that this was a long journey is reinforced by 1) fact that the Magi came to a “child” at a “house,” not an “infant” at a “manger” and 2) because Herod kills all males age 2 and under in Bethlehem, “in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.” (Matthew 2:16)}

The journey would have taken much time, energy, and resources to complete. Yet, the Magi did it. They came to worship the Messiah.

This group of Magi, who had no connections to Israel or its prophecies, made an incredible journey to worship Jesus. They dropped their lives as they knew them before. They used their resources to collect gifts fit for a king. They used their time and energy to make a long journey. It took a lot, but they knew it was worth it. {This is in contrast to Israel’s own leaders, who tell the Magi where to find Jesus, but don’t even make the effort to investigate themselves.}

The Magi were outsiders. Yet, God welcomed them just as if they had been a part of His family their entire lives. God led them through a star. God spoke to them in a dream. God recorded their story in the Bible for future generations to hear.

Just as the light of the star led outsiders to Jesus when He was born, those who know this truth are called to be a light to lead outsiders to Jesus now.

As we celebrate, let’s share the story of God’s love and salvation come to earth. Let’s share the message of Christmas:

It does not matter where your journey has taken you before. What matters is where your journey takes you now. It may be difficult. You may have to give up some things. But it is worth it. Jesus came to this world to rescue you. He is Your Savior. Believe in Him, and your sins are forgiven. Believe in Him, and your relationship with God is restored. Believe in him, and your life has a new purpose.

The Messiah has come. The message is for all. Come and worship.