By Dimitris Pelidis


Christmas is rapidly approaching and with it the anticipation and excitement of the holiday season. It is a time of great exhilaration and joy, a time of rest and a time of reflection. It is a time to not only celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ but also to seek him and worship him who is our Lord and King.

Despite his kingship, when he came to this world some 2000 years ago there were only a few unlikely visitors in the welcoming committee who came to worship and adore him. Representing the Jews was a group of shepherds and on behalf of the Gentiles came the wise men from the east, otherwise known as the Magi.

The biblical account of the wise men is both intriguing and enlightening. The single passage which refers to them sheds beautiful light concerning the heart of true worship which they exhibited.

Matthew 2:1-12:
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2 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.
3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

It is peculiar that it was not the wise men of Israel with all their knowledge of the scriptures who got news of Christ’s birth but these wise foreigners from the east. One would expect the scholars of Israel to be better informed of the time and whereabouts of their own King’s coming. However, it was to these complete strangers that God chose to disclose the secret of his Son’s birth and he didn’t do so through the usual avenue of the scriptures but by illuminating the sky with his Son’s star.

This goes to show that it is not so much our national, cultural or even religious heritage that guarantees access into the inner chambers of God but it is our reverence to him and our thirst for truth. Being well-versed in the scriptures will not do you any good if you are not seeking him humbly with all your heart. Only then will God reveal his Son in your heart.

Psalm 25:9, 14:
The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.

14 The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.

The way God chooses to reveal his truth is his sovereign prerogative. Ours is the business of humility and readiness of heart to receive his divine messages in whatever form they are delivered.

There were many shepherds watching their flock that night and many stargazers who were peering into the sky. Why did it have to be those specific shepherds and those certain stargazers who got the big news? I would venture to say that they were the ones who had the right heart to receive such splendid news. This is amply proven by the course of action they followed once they received word from heaven. You see, it is one thing to get the Word of the Lord and it is quite another to act upon it, once you get it. These men were not mere theorists. They were men of honor, men of action, men of purpose. What they saw through their “telescopes” was not just another star. They saw him who is named in the Bible the star out of Jacob (Num. 24:17), the bright and morning star (Rev. 22:16), the one who is the brightness of the glory and the express image of God (Heb. 1:3). They beheld Christ’s star and its beauty dazzled them forever. It spoke volumes from God’s heart to theirs. This was no ordinary king who was born to the Jews. Driven by God they hastily climbed down their observatory and took the long rugged road to Jerusalem to find him and worship him. They weren’t deterred in any way by the great distance they had to cover allegedly originating from Persia. All that mattered was to meet him.

There is definitely a wealth of wisdom to be gained from them. Once Christ is revealed to you, be willing to leave everything behind in order to meet him and worship him. Be ready to take the long road of faith no matter how tough it may be. Always remember that it is God who guides your path and leads the way.

Psalm 32:8:
I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.

The Magi outshone the wise men of Israel. While the scribes and Pharisees lost the way to the manger they were on the right track. They were determined to reach their blessed destination. When they came to Jerusalem the one thing they wanted to know was “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.”

Just imagine for a moment how disconcerting this question must have been to Herod coming from the lips of a delegation of these strange oriental men. They even claimed they had seen his star in the east. What is worse is that they had come to do him homage. How would the head of state of any country feel? Threatened? Was there a conspiracy being plotted against him? Was he the last to get wind of it? Well, as Matthew 2:3 reads, it was not only Herod who was deeply troubled “but all Jerusalem with him.”

Herod immediately sends for all the chief priests and scribes of the people and demands of them to tell them where Christ should be born. Being well versed in the scriptures they point to the direction of Bethlehem and rightly so. How ironic though, that they don’t feel the slightest urge to go up to Bethlehem and see for themselves if this is truly the promised Messiah. They could quote the right chapter and verse and give right directions but it was the Magi who end up in Bethlehem paying tribute to the King of the Jews and not the Jewish leaders themselves. They prove to be the earnest seekers of Christ while the Jews aren’t. As the Scripture testifies, “For it is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men but of God” (Rom. 2:28-29). Similarly all those of us who trust in our knowledge of the Bible and are not earnest seekers of the person of Christ are not genuine Christians. Actions determine our relationship with him. Can we echo the testimony of Job 42:5? Have we heard of him by the hearing of the ear only, or has our eye seen him also? If Christ is no more than hearsay and not a revelation to your heart then you have not yet really met him.

The Magi both saw his star and the Christ child himself.

Matthew 2:9-12:
When they had heard the king, they departed ; and lo the star which they saw in the east went before them till it came and stood over where the young child was.
9 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother and fell down and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures they presented unto him gifts; gold and frankincense and myrrh.
10 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod they departed into their own country another way.

The star led their way to where Christ was and when they saw it they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. Such is the joy of all those who allow their steps to be ordered by God, who reach their final destination which is none other than Christ himself. And when they come into his presence then they too fall down in reverence before him and worship him offering their best gifts to him.

The example of the Magi shines on. Seek him diligently, follow him closely and worship him fervently in the spirit offering your gift to him. Have a very merry Christmas!



From the December 2002 issue of The Vine & Branches