In the Christmas story of Matthew, we see an amazing portrait of seeking . . . and finding.
For background, in the Old Testament God told Israel of a time they would go into exile and only a remnant would survive. As followers of Jesus in our world, all of us could be described as exiles. Peter described the scattered church of God: “To God’s elect, strangers in the world…” (1 Peter 1:1).
In Deuteronomy passage below, we have a clear picture of how God’s people are meant to live when in exile:
And God would exhort us as modern-day exiles, awaiting our home in heaven, as He did Israel on numerous occasions: “Seek me with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 6:5, see also 4:29 and 10:12).
There are few stories of seeking and finding as compelling and mysterious as the story of the magi, in Matthew:
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 in the east and have come to worship him.” . . .
[After an interaction with Herod and finding out where Jesus was] “they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east 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 and of incense and of myrrh” (Matthew 2:1-5, 9-11).
Tradition tells us these wise men were Zorastrians from Persia (modern day Iran). Some believe they were wise men from the kingdom of Sheba (modern day Yemen) on the Arabian Peninsula. The kingdom of Sheba was one of a very few locations where the gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh, would have been plentiful.
What I find astounding and inspiring—whether they were from Persia or Yemen—they were going above and beyond to seek a king in order to come and worship him. Whether from Persia or Sheba, they would have faced a journey on foot that would have taken a month or more.
As you enter the new year, to what lengths are you willing to go in seeking after God? As people living as exiles in this broken world, let’s follow the example of the wise men who travelled across a continent to find a King and worship Him.
Looking to the year ahead:
- What longings or emptiness in your life show your need for more of God?
- What new plans or disciplines could you adopt in your daily schedule to increase your search for more of Him?