by Phil Morgan (used by permission)
On January 6th we celebrated Epiphany, commemorating the visit of the wise men to check out the newborn baby Jesus. Quick quiz – what gifts did the wise men bring? If you just yelled out “gold, frankincense and myrrh,” you got it! But do you remember the fourth gift the wise guys brought? No? Let’s take a look in the Bible and see if we can find it.
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.”
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “in Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet: ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.'”
Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.”
When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. – Matthew 2:1-11
Did you see it? OK, I admit, that was a bit of a trick question. It wasn’t the fourth gift, but rather the first. Before the gold, frankincense and myrrh, the wise men offered the most precious gift to our Lord, the gift of worship. Let’s see what our wise friends can teach us about this important act.
1. We worship with humility, respect and reverence. When the magi came before Jesus they bowed in reverence. Literally, they “fell down.” We’ve got to remember, these were important people who were probably used to people bowing to them. They had just been face to face with non other than King Herod himself and there was no mention of them bowing to him. In fact, Herod was the one who requested the meeting! These great men recognized when they were in the presence of true greatness and paid Him the respect He deserves. We owe Jesus nothing less today.
2. Worship is intentional. The wise men didn’t just hang around and happen to bump into Jesus, they sought Him out. They had studied their holy books about Him, went looking for Him, and even asked others where they could find Him. Worship is not just standing up and singing some songs. We must eagerly seek Jesus with our hearts, souls and minds. Worship doesn’t happen by accident, it is intentional.
3. Worship is a journey. The wise men didn’t passively wait for Jesus to come to them, they took action and went to Him. While it is true that we can not work our way to God (that is why He so graciously came to us), when we worship we leave our self-focused world and go to Him. Look at all the action in this promise God gave Jeremiah, “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart,” – Jeremiah 29:12-13. Don’t just sit there, worship!
4. Worship makes the world uncomfortable. When King Herod heard about Jesus, he and the whole town of Jerusalem weren’t excited, they were “troubled.” Why? Because the world is worldly. God is holy, the exact opposite of worldly. If our worship feels the same as going to a concert or a coffee shop, we may be missing the point. Worship takes us into the very presence of God himself, and that is anything but ordinary. If we let our worldly selves stay too comfortable, we may never experience the awe and majesty that surround the incomparable Creator of the universe. What a tremendous privilege that God would bless us, unworthy as we are, with His very presence. That’s enough to make us sing along with the angels, “Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.” – Revelation 7:12
This year, let’s bring our best gift to Jesus… true worship. When we do, we’ll discover another truth – we can’t give to God without receiving something in return. Remember our wise buddies? When they saw the star and found Jesus, they “rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.” Not happiness, or even a warm fuzzy, but GREAT JOY! The kind of joy that only comes from basking in the presence of our God, our King, our Messiah, our Savior, our Jesus.
And all God’s people said…
Phil and Pam Morgan