Wise Men Seek the True King

Today, in the midst of all the things I needed to get done, the kids, Chris, and I spent a little time focusing on the part of the Christmas story that has been tweaked and altered over the ages to fit in a little more neatly with the nativity scenes and Christmas movies. That's ironic, because the lesson this story is teaching me today is about refusing to alter the One True God to fit our purposes.

As I think about those Wise Men, the Magi, the Three Kings, whatever you like to call them, I think of all the things we tend to get wrong. (Always looking on the bright side, I know. Call me Pollyanna.) We say there were indeed Three, when anyone who reads the account of their visit to Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew knows that isn't necessarily the case. And then we like to throw them into the manger scene with the shepherds, when clearly they didn't visit Jesus on that first night of his birth, but months later.

But those are just details, right? We can fudge on those a little, because that We Three Kings song is so catchy and they just look so regal and stately peering over Mary's shoulder into that ceramic manger on my piano. Honestly, I do let the three kingly guys have their place in our nativity scene and I sing all the songs that refer to them as kings, when they were really magicians/astrologers. I know the way it really went down but don't think it's that big of a deal to go along with all things we've done to make it fit our sweet little picture of Christmas.

What is a big deal, however, is when we tweak and twist and alter the identity of the Savior those wise men sought. When those two or three or eight guys set out to follow that star to the subject of its light, I imagine they were expecting someone with some earthly importance attached to him. I would guess that those men were looking for a regal king that exuded power and authority, or at least had a little bit of money and a powerful family to his name. And it seems certain that that's the kind of guy Jesus' own people were expecting as well. He was born right under their noses, in the very place they expected to find him, yet so many missed it completely.

I think they key, though, is their humility and willingness to accept God's gift for what, or who, it actually was.

Those wise men, when they followed that star, full of faith and expectancy that it would indeed lead them to a King, and when they showed up to the front door of a little house, showered in starlight, to find a toddler and his mom, they didn't get ticked off that their long, hard journey had led them to a nursery. They fell down and worshipped. They didn't argue with God that perhaps he'd made a poor choice in kings or decide that this little guy wasn't their kind of savior. They didn't contemplate an error on their part...maybe this was just an unusually bright star and not a star leading to the one they sought after all.

They saw Jesus for what he is. The perfect and precious Son of God. There was no need to seek one they thought better fit the bill. They knew they'd found the real deal and responded with their worship, a sacrifice of treasure, and a heart overflowing with joy. They got that Jesus may not have been what they expected, but he was the one they needed.

But then you see a whole bunch of other people who didn't even have to go very far or look very hard to find this new king, yet they didn't put forth the effort or have the faith to seek him out. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were surrounded by religious, supposedly God-fearing, people in Bethlehem and Jerusalem. People who knew the prophecy of the coming Savior, but people who overlooked it completely. I wonder if, at the root of their oblivious attitudes, it wasn't the pride of misplaced expectations that caused them to fall short. They wanted a god and a king who fit their bill. They wanted immediate, earthly salvation on their own terms, not a life of sacrifice and suffering as they awaited to eternally be with God.

Jesus didn't suit them. He wasn't their cup of tea. He didn't come with power and money and prestige, or so it seemed. He asked too much of them, expecting them give something up, namely themselves, in order to be a part of his kingdom.

How foolish, we think, as we shake our heads. How could they be so close and miss it?

But think of all the wisdom and revelation and opportunity to know Christ that we've been given. And we see people everyday who trade in a relationship with the King in order to keep their lives the way they like them. Or, many times, I think we just create a king, a god, who more easily suits our needs.

We like a god who lets everyone into heaven...well, except for Hitler and guys like that.

We like a god who wants us to have earthly blessings and will give us the right to pursue our happiness here and now.

We like a god who gives us a free ticket to heaven and only asks that we go to church and pay him a little fee, uh, I mean tithe, every now and again.

We like a god who will forgive us no matter what we've done, whether we are truly repentant for those things or not.

We like a god who says all ways lead to him because that just helps us sleep better at night.

We like a god who gives everyone who's seen hypocrisy in the church a pass because those mean people didn't play nice.

We like a god who says it's okay to live the way we want, because we know, more than anything, he wants us to be happy.

We like a god who makes sense to us because we deserve an explanation for everything.

We like a god who only expects us to be nice to people who are nice to us or forgive those who are sorry they stepped on our toes.

I think the magi remind us that we need to step outside the box and into the truth when we look at God. It is a dangerous thing to think we're serving God while, all the time, we're only serving the god we want him to be. We need to be intentional at seeking the God who really exists, instead of being satisfied with the one we've imagined to suit our desires.

Don't just go with the flow. Don't be satisfied with tradition or what other people say or what your shallow faith believes. Get in His Word and seek the One True God this season. Step outside the box, and when you do, be sure you're willing to bow down and worship the One you find. 

Lord, I don't want a shallow, earthly imitation of you. I want the real deal. Help me to think outside my little box and step into the starlight with you.


  1. I love this blog! I'm just now getting around to reading it because I'm slow. Love the pics too!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts