Submitted by Wilson F. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church
There is so much we’d like to know about the magi, these star-gazers and adventurers from the East. Though they did not have much light, they responded to the light that they had. Their journey—over field and fountain, moor and mountain—was long and dangerous (as all long travels were in those days). What possessed them to take such a journey, bearing such precious gifts?
These Magi had real questions as well as the hope that there were real answers to those questions. They must have believed that there was more to life than they had already known, and they looked to the stars for some sign, some clue, some indication that there was something more. During the Israelite exile to Babylon, there might have been an exchange of cultures, religions and ancient literature, and so these scholars might have been familiar with the prophecies of Isaiah regarding a virgin who would give birth to a child destined to be King of kings and Lord of lords. So when they saw the star, they packed their camels and headed westward, following its movement. These men were people of rank and status and position, people with wealth (as they brought costly gifts), people with everything going for them from the world’s perspective. But I suspect there was a sense of dissatisfaction, of unfulfillment – sort of like an itch they were trying to scratch. Why else would they brave a perilous journey across barren wilderness, venturing into foreign lands, in search of “the one who has been born king of the Jews” when this child might not have even existed? In their very own words, they were looking for the One who was truly worthy of worship.
As you think about the journey of these magi, think about your own journey. How were you led to Christ? What “star of wonder, star of light” guided you? Or, how are you being led to him now? Do you have a seeking heart like these magi?
I attended Catholic schools since kindergarten, but I started going to church for Sunday worship at the age of ten. I heard about God during those early years, but to be sure, I did not understand or appreciate the relevance of what I learned. The “star” first caught my eye around the eighth grade, when I found myself full of questions about the Bible and what it means to pray and the nature of God’s will. I became a spiritual seeker, and throughout high school, I learned more and more about God as revealed in Scripture. However, like the chief priests and teachers of the law, I had all the right answers, Bible quotes with references and all – but I lacked the most important thing, which was an authentic relationship with the God I claimed to believe in. It was all head-knowledge, but it did nothing to address my true impoverished spiritual condition
The “star” that captivated me was experiencing our church, the first time being New Student Welcome Night back in August 1998 – hearing Pastor Ed’s message and feeling the warmth of our community kept me coming back more and more, and then I took Course 101 and attended Friday Bible Studies, Sunday Worship Services and retreats, until one day, I acknowledged that I was living a lie, that I did not know Christ personally, but I wanted to become one by surrendering my life to Jesus. That was eleven-and-a-half years ago, and since then, I can honestly say that I still want to know God more, to understand the gospel and the cross more deeply, and to draw closer to him in my relationship with him. As long as I am in this body, I remain a spiritual seeker, hungry for his Word, dissatisfied with the offerings of this world, and longing to be home where I may worship the King.
What lessons do these magi teach me about spiritual hunger, about decisive commitments, about generosity and the purpose of my treasures?
First, spiritual hunger has to translate to decisive action. Just as in the case of physical hunger, you cannot expect that sensation to simply go away or to be resolved all on its own; rather, you need to move toward a reliable source of physical sustenance.
Second, spiritual seeking requires commitment and perseverance. For the Magi, there were points at which they could have turned their camels around and headed back home, but they remained undaunted, determined to find the child. Arriving at the wrong city after traveling a great distance, encountering a people that had no idea what you are talking about and instead being disturbed by the very prospect, losing sight of the star – all these factors could have discouraged them. That is why they were overjoyed to see the star once again. They embarked on this journey, regardless of the costs, the dangers, the uncertainty of success – but with courage and faith, they sought, and they found.
Third, my treasures are an entrustment from God, and the best use for them is as gifts for worship. All that I possess – my wealth, my car, my time and energy, my very life – were given to me, and I need to be generous with what I have in honoring God. My life, as precious as it is to me, belongs to God, and as small and trivial as it is, becomes a gift welcomed by the King.