During Advent, we not only remember how Christ first came into the lives of the individuals at the nativity, but how he came into our own lives and continues to transform us. We invite you to read the gospel account of the Magi and reflect upon how they were filled with joy when they pursued Christ.
Full Scripture passage: Matthew 2:1-18
Why is joy associated with Christmastime? The Old Testament prophets talked about the coming of the Messiah, so for generations, Jewish people were waiting for their King.
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.
Micah 5:2 predicted Bethlehem as the Messiah’s birthplace. It was a small town less than a ten-mile walk from King Herod’s capital, Jerusalem. When the Magi saw a star rise, they traveled from the east to Jerusalem because that was where they expected to find a new Judean king. It was customary for the Magi to travel to see a newborn king to give him honor, bow before him, and bring him gifts. This part of the story isn’t out of the ordinary, since they would have traveled to see any king.
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 when it rose and have come to worship him.”
In Jerusalem, they told King Herod about the star. Here is when the story looks different from their other visits to see the king. In Matthew 2:10, it says, “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.” The literal Greek translation is, “They were overjoyed to the max with great abundant joy.” The word for “great” is where we get the root word for “mega.” They had mega joy!
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, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
The Magi had not found just any new king, but the King! Their joy caused them to worship. That was their appropriate response to the birth of King Jesus. There are things we can learn from them, so we can also have an appropriate response to Jesus.
First, they heard about the King being born, and they wanted to meet him! A lot of times for me, it is getting the “want to.” I want to want to meet with Jesus, but I let other things get in the way. This Christmas season, grab that “want to” and lean in! It will produce joy in your life.
Next, the wise men didn’t settle for just knowing about Jesus. They wanted to know him, to meet him for themselves. Philippians 3:8 says “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Do you know him? It isn’t just enough to know about him. Get to know him! That leads to the deep well of joy we desire.
Third, they went looking for Him. If we want to know Jesus in the ways we have just described, do what the Magi did. Go looking, He can be found!
“I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.”
“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
Lastly, when the Magi saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly. But it doesn’t stop there. Our joy should always produce something. For them, it was to bow down, to worship Jesus, and to present him with gifts. Joy always produces action!
This Advent, I challenge you to learn from the Magi and seek Christ, the King of Kings.
Associate Director, Student Learning & Living