“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men front the East to Jerusalem. Saying, Where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the East, and are come to worship Him.”
Well, the time has come for all of us to again go to Bethlehem.
The wicked, but also the good; the heavens with their star, together with the representatives of the Gentiles wend their weary way West in order to find the King of the Jews.
And ever since, the whole Christian world has gone to Bethlehem during the warmest period of the Christian year.
The days of Christmas are happy days for us.
O, I know that every day is good; for God is for us. But we are very human, and the human being likes his feasts and his special days. I find no quarrel with our holy days. They are days when the high-lights of the Christian calendar receive their proper emphasis.
And so we will wend our way to Bethlehem.
To see the King of the Jews and to worship Him.
There came wise men.
How many? We do not know, the Catholic Church notwithstanding.
And you need not be a Roman Catholic in order to think and to speak of three wise men. I catch myself in the same mistake. For mistake it is. No one knows how many wise men from the East travelled to Bethlehem almost two thousand years ago. It makes no difference either. If it did, God would have revealed it.
Neither do we know from where they came, except that it was from the East. Also that information is immaterial for our moment. Suffice it that all these questions will be answered in the Judgment Day.
But this we know: they were Gentiles.
And that is important. It bodes well for the Gentile world that their representatives are sent by God from the far East to Jerusalem, and later, to Bethlehem. It is wonderful that the heathen may join in the worship of the Son of God, appearing in the flesh.
Yes, they went to Jerusalem. Of course they did. Jerusalem is the city of the King. If anywhere, there they would be able to answer the burning question of these heathens: Where is He that is born King of the Jews?
Jerusalem is the city where the Temple of God was built, and where the house of the Kings of Israel stood. There are the wise and the prudent, the masters of Israel.
Certainly, Jerusalem will know.
And there they come. Indeed it is late after the birth of Jesus, maybe even two years after the angels sang, the shepherds worshipped, and the world forgot.
But, never mind all that, they are here.
They pause and ask; they stop again and wonder; they repeat their wonderful question: Where is He?
Yes, it is a wonderful question.
They are Gentiles, born and living in a great darkness which had lasted four thousand years, far from the dear children of God, far from the fathers that were so beloved of God. While Israel had dwelled in the midst of beautiful light and splendour, they were Gentiles, heathen, dogs, cast off. God allowed them to wander and stagger in filthy darkness and ignorance.
But wait a minute: they are Gentiles alright, but they had seen His star!
Look at that last clause or sentence and ponder a while. How did they know that the star they saw in the East was His star?
There is only one possible answer, and that is: God must have, shown it to them. They must have had access to the Old Testament Scriptures. And that is very easy to believe, for there was the eastern dispersion. Many, oh so many Jews had gone east, and stayed there. But wherever they went, they took with them the Holy Scriptures.
And God must have revealed to them that the strange star they saw was the star that heralded the birth of Christ.
O yes, these, blessed travelers had seen the Star; they had received the Scriptures, and they also had received personal revelation from God. To run ahead a little: did you note how God contacted them on the way to Bethlehem?
Listen: they knew God!
Can you imagine the disappointment of these strangers when they arrived at the City of the King? There is no feasting, no rejoicing, no gladness in Jerusalem.
What do they find? “Business as usual!”
What did they really find there? A troubled Jerusalem and a troubled, hateful king Herod. They find deceit, hypocrisy, a murderous lot.
But the trusting souls did not see this at once. O no. They trust the king, the chief priests, and the scribes. They receive all the information they wanted, and they wend their way to Bethlehem: Micah had written.
And they go to Bethlehem, eager to see the King of the Jews, in order then to return and tell King Herod, so that he also may be able to go and worship.
And still, I think that they were quite disappointed. They had imagined it all so different. And I tell you why I think this. Did you note how strongly the Holy Ghost emphasized their subjective condition when they saw the star on the way to Bethlehem?
Notice: “they rejoiced with exceeding great joy!”
The Holy Ghost could have written: they saw the star and rejoiced. Or, they saw the star and rejoiced with great joy. But no, the Holy Ghost tells us that they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. That shows clearly that their faith had been severely tested in Jerusalem. And that now everything was made clear again.
That bright and twinkling star in the clear heavens gave them the trust and repose they needed so sorely. Why, it was the answer of Jehovah Himself! O, can you not see them? They stop dead in their tracks, they look and smile, nay, they shout and cry: There is that Star again, brethren! All is well! God is in His heaven and moves the very heavens to our help and His excellency in the skies! What wondrous happiness for the rest of the journey.
They approach the little village of Bethlehem; they look and see the Star stand still, exactly above the house in which the little Jesus lay.
One of these wise men knocked on the door of the house where the Holy Family dwelled. The door opens and the delegation of blessed Heathens enters the house where God dwelled in human garb. Let’s enter with them.
O, but these men have thorough knowledge of Theology! Look! After introducing themselves to Mary and Joseph, and the owners of the house where Jesus lay, they fall down!
That action shows that they knew God!
Did you ever notice how angels and the souls of men made perfect behave in heaven? They do as these wise men: they fall down with their faces to the ground. Even angels do. And they never sinned. Here is the fine point: they know God! You know, what this meant? It means that they have learned the first and the most fundamental law of the Kingdom of Heaven:humility.
Do you want to be a man, a woman, a child after God’s own heart?
Fall down before Him!
God loves little people. And I don’t mean physical stature when I employ the adjective little.
Now apprehend their further behavior!
They worship the Child. And that is heaven that is eternal: it shall have no end. In all the countless eternities before us, this worship will go on and on. It will make heaven musical forever. Singing, dancing, making music on the harps of God: it is all worship, adoration, ecstasy, heavenly splendor.
Worship, what is it? Worship is when you catalog all the graces, the beauties, the wonders of God. Worship is when you tell Him carefully how adorable He is in all His virtues. I will give you an example from Holy Scripture. “The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.” Psalm 148:8
And here is a verse from the New Testament: “Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and, riches and wisdom, and strength and honour and glory, and blessing.” Rev. 5:12.
Note the wonder of the moment: The Heathen are bowing down and giving worship to our Jesus! It is surpassing in beauty.
But there is more.
They open their treasures!
And they give to Jesus their gifts!
Gold! What it means? It means that they indicate that this Child will have Royal honor! Is this Babe not the Icing of kings and the Lord of lords? O, these Heathen know their theology!
Frankincense. What is it? They confess in that gift that He should be worshipped unto all eternity by the whole Universe. He is so worthy of it, for He is to be slain, but shall rise again: Christ Triumphator!
Myrrh. Ah, but this tells a gruesome story. Myrrh tells of His suffering and death. He shall be ground to powder. He shall be spent in eternal death.
But wonder of wonders: it shall be a fragrance, unto God a sweet smelling savour. God loves Golgotha.
Go then, go to Bethlehem!
Fall down after you have found Jesus.
Open your treasures and give Him gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Worship Him unto all eternity. Amen.