Advent on The Blog: The Wise Men
“Wise Men Still Seek Him”
“Wise men still seek Him.”
You may have heard that statement before, but in our day there’s a lot of resistance to it.
Why? Well, listen to people’s reasons for resisting following Jesus and you’ll hear things like…
“Religion is anti-intellectual.”
“Christianity is a white-man’s religion.”
“Religion is a crutch for the weak.”
“All roads lead to God…one religion is as good as another.”
Yet, if you stop and really honestly think through those statements, they all fall short of the tests of truth, reality, and history.
Jesus came for all people--regardless of ethnic background, economic status, educational achievements, positions of authority, status…and you find them all in the original Christmas story.
As you read “The Star”, from our book Christmas Hearts, you’ll meet some of the richest, wisest, powerful men of that time. They came from a different nation and culture, observed a different religion…yet they sought to find the Savior at the end of their journey following a Star. They sought honestly, humbly and persistently…and they wound up bowing in worship when they found Jesus the Christ.
It’s the same for everyone today…if we are hungry for truth, heart-satisfying answers to our longings and the certainty of peace with God in the here and now and a place with Him in the hereafter…
Then we’ll do what the first Magi did…we’ll seek Him until He finds us. In Jesus we find the answer to every human need and longing. You’ll find it true as they did then…
Wise men still seek Him…and He still finds and saves us.
Peace be with you.
My name is Caspar, the name your tradition has given me. I am from a different time and a different place, but I have been asked to share my story with you. This I will gladly do. What I have to tell you has brought hope and light to many generations. I am one of the Wise Men who went to see the young King named Jesus shortly after His birth. My life has been transformed by the journey that brought me to Jesus and the gifts of truth and hope He has given me.
I am an old man now, for although I was young and strong when I began my journey, nearly forty years have passed. Yet, the memories of those great events are as fresh to me now as if they happened only yesterday.
First, I must tell you about myself. You have called me a "King of the Orient," and a "Wise Man" in your stories and songs. My real title was Magi. I am from the Persian Empire, far to the east of Israel. My work was that of a teacher and instructor to the kings. I also performed an important role in the sacrifices in our temples, for no religious sacrifices were allowed our land without a Magi present. We were skilled in philosophy, medicine, natural science, and the study of the stars. We worshipped fire and nature, thinking that in the worship of nature we would find the answers to life. Mostly, however, I was a man who sought for the truth.
My King and all those in my country respected me. I had accumulated all a person could possibly want when it came to material riches. I had it all…or so I thought at first. Yet, the more I gained the more empty I felt. Although I had much, my heart was empty. I was a seeker for truth, looking for the hope that there was more to life than my possessions. Political power could not bring inner peace. Wealth could not buy fulfillment for my soul. Religion and ritual could not cleanse my heart from the guilt of my sins.
None of these things had filled the void within me...
I must hasten on to tell you how our great adventure began. We studied the paths of the stars and planets. For us they represented the unchanging order of the universe. The stars, we believed, could be trusted to give direction and meaning to life. Many of us even believed a person’s destiny was determined by what star they were born under. You today call this astrology. I have come now to realize that true guidance comes from the One who made the stars, but at the time I did not realize the truth. So we studied the stars, hoping to find truth and answers for our lives.
One particular night brought an extraordinary occurrence. A star we had not seen before appeared in the sky. It was so brilliant it immediately demanded our attention. The unchanging order of the skies had been broken! We knew the appearance of such a star must be a signal of something very significant.
It was if God Himself was breaking into His universe to tell the world something special.
Two of my friends became especially interested in that star with me. We began to search for its meaning.
Melchoir was the oldest. He was a quiet man, thin, with a long gray beard. Melchoir was man to study something very thoroughly before he would choose to accept or believe in it.
Balthasar was middle-aged, more burly and impulsive then either of us. He was a man of action. Bright brown eyes sparkled behind his thick, dark beard.
I, Caspar, was the youngest. At the time, I had not yet grown a full beard. People said I had the fresh face of youth. I was always the most inquisitive of the Magi. I did not tell my friends of my hunger to find hope and truth, but I persuaded Melchoir and Balthasar to help me study the star. Secretly I longed for the star to guide me, to give me the answers for my heart. Could it be this star was God’s gift of hope for me? I did not know, but I was determined to discover its true meaning for myself.
So we studied the star. We knew it was a special sign, but for what reason?
Diligently we studied the events going on in the world. What we found made our curiosity greater and our eagerness to discover the secret of the star more intense.
As we studied the writings of other peoples, we learned all across the world there was an intense conviction with a corresponding expectation that a great leader would be born. From Him would come the possibility of peace for all the people of our world.
We found that the Romans were talking of ushering in a "golden age," looking for a "savior" to bring in that age.
Far to the east, in the land of China, their prophet Confucius spoke of the coming of a deliverer. We saw a pattern developing.
In these sources and others, we found there was an expectation of a great King who would come out of the region of Judea from among the Jewish people. Our own writings quoted a prophet from the Jews foretelling of the coming of their Messiah, their Anointed One from God who would come to set all people free.
As we studied the writings of the Jewish prophets, they spoke of a child who would be born of a virgin. He would be a light to the world, a Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
All the sources pointed to the idea that God had given a special sign to announce that coming of a great King. As we charted the star, we saw that it had risen right over Judea!
THERE, INDEED, A GREAT KING WAS TO BE BORN!
Looking back now, I can see that it was a wondering world that awaited the great king. There were cries of "peace, peace" but there was no peace. There was no joy nor peace in the hearts of men. Stress, worry and anger ruled the hearts of most people, regardless of their language or country.
It was also a waiting world. People were looking for hope. They had discovered they could not build their “golden age” by themselves. They needed God and wanted Him to come to them.
I had a deep sense God was sending His answer to the world through this King.
So…now we understood what the Star was announcing to us! But what could we do? As we talked, Balthasar grew increasingly excited. He declared we should follow the star so we could see this King with our own eyes. I was only too pleased to follow the star. Melchoir hesitated briefly, but finally His excitement overcame his reluctance. We began to make preparations for the trip. Soon our caravan was ready, and we began our journey to the land of Judea, far to our west.
It was not an easy trip. We traveled rough trails with blistering hot days often followed by frigid bone-chilling nights. The possibility of an attack by thieves always lurked in the shadows. Yet, the Star--so brilliant, white and shining, remained our constant guide. We felt a sense of peace and protection from that Star. It was as if we were being guided by God Himself to a very important meeting. It was indeed to become a life changing experience for all of us! Even the animals seemed to sense the significance of our journey, and gave us few problems.
Finally, after many months of travel, we reached Jerusalem, the most important city in all of Judea, and asked where we might find He who was born King of the Jews.
The people we met there were most interesting...
We met Herod, the king of that region. He had ruled for many years. We knew in our hearts immediately he was not the promised king. He was but a pretender king. He was just a man who tried to act like a god. We found him to be almost insanely suspicious of anyone threatening his kingdom and his personal sovereignty. We found later that Herod murdered his own mother, his wife and even some of his sons in order to protect his place on the throne. Herod was not pleased at all to hear of a king born who was the rightful ruler of the land. He was afraid that this little child was going to interfere with his life, his place, his power. Behind his feigned politeness, we could tell he wanted to eliminate the true King.
I have met many like this Herod....people who don’t want to give up the rule of their own life. They often say, “It’s my life. I’ll do whatever I want no matter what.” I have found we all make poor substitutes for the true king. People don't want Him because He interferes with their lives. In so choosing, they find their hearts constantly opposed to the very One who made them.
Then we met the Chief Priests of their Temple. They were the religious leaders of the land. We thought certainly they would be thrilled to hear about their foretold Savior-King. It was their own writings that showed the new King was to be born in the little town of Bethlehem...only six short miles from Jerusalem. They really surprised us...they were completely indifferent!
When we asked if they would like to go see the King, they replied that they could not come. They were late for an important debate…something about how many angels could fit on the head of a pin or some such thing. Besides, they said, they had rituals to perform. Although they knew much
about God with their heads, it seemed they had completely missed Him in their hearts. Here was the fulfillment to all their prophecies, the answer to all God’s promises…and they had no time for Him!
Ah, I see many still like them...people who get too busy with life--personal responsibilities, politics, social issues, even religious duties. The affairs of life demand so much of their attention that knowing the King for themselves means little or nothing to them. Their own self-righteousness blinds them to the truth.
So, leaving Herod and the religious leaders behind, we set our eyes on the star and traveled in its light until it stopped right over the place where the Child King was staying.
It seemed that the Star was pointing to the King, and when we saw the star, we rejoiced with great joy. We were overwhelmed with wonder! The three of us clutched each other in our excitement. Here was the end of our journey at last. We had found the King!
Joseph and Mary, His parents, were not what we expected. They were but simple, common folk. The place where they were staying was poor. It was not the surroundings we have expected for a great King. There were no servants, no fanfare to announce our arrival. With hesitant wonder, we went in to see the Person we had searched for so long. In the Child’s presence we instinctively knew we were in the presence of royalty. When His parents told us his name, we were even more in awe. His name, they said, was Jesus. “Savior.” Yes, this indeed was a special supernatural Child! This was God who had become a Man!
The three of us were used to being in the presence of kings, but this Child made me feel I was in the presence of the King of Kings. We knelt before this King and worshipped Him. How He would affect the whole world we did not know, but He had already captured my heart. For the first time, my heart felt like its long search for meaning was over.
We gave Him gifts...
Melchoir gave Him gold, a gift for a King.
I Caspar gave Him frankincense, used in worship. It was a gift for a Priest. Somehow I knew this Child was to become the bridge between God and man.
Balthasar gave Him a gift that puzzled me then. He gave the Child the gift of myrrh, a spice used to prepare dead bodies for burial. None of us knew then was that it would all mean, yet Balthasar said he felt he must give this Child this gift--a gift for one who was to die.
Even as I gave my gift to the new King, I felt He was giving me a gift to me as well....the gift of hope. I could look forward to my future because I had met the King. The light of the Star was now gone, but the Light of Hope was shining in my heart.
Our visit was much too short, but God warned us in a dream that we must not return to Jerusalem and report our findings to Herod. An angel of God told us to return home by a different route. And so we did.
After we returned to our own land, I did my best to keep track of the Child.
I did not hear much for thirty years. The Child grew into a Man in a quiet village called Nazareth. Then I began to receive reports of how this Jesus did miracles that transformed people's lives. He taught powerful messages of life-changing truth even a child could understand. He spoke of hope and love, of forgiveness and peace with God. Peace with God brought the possibility of peace among men. His was a kingdom of love, not hate. Forgiveness, not fighting. Everywhere Jesus walked, people were never the same.
Suddenly, the news came that Jesus had been crucified on a Cross...but He had risen from the dead only three days later! Balthasar’s gift of myrrh made sense at last. This was a King born to die for His people, but even death could not overcome Him! It was then that I realized the Gift Jesus had given the world--He gave His life so the sins separating us from God could be forgiven. We could have a personal relationship with the One who made the universe! The search for truth and meaning forever finds its culmination in the person of Jesus the Christ. He gift of love could bring peace to all who would receive it.
When I realized this, I knelt again in worship, this time to commit my life to Jesus, my King and my Savior. I fully understood and received His gift of salvation. This time I gave Him the most important gift, really the only one I could give.
I gave Him my heart.
I pondered much the significance of the Star. As I studied further, I learned the Spirit of God sometimes reveals Himself as “Shekinah”—revealing the glory of God Himself. I now believe the Star was the Spirit of God Himself guiding us to find the Christ, providing light in our search through the darkness. He still does for every heart looking for truth.
I sought a Star, but found my Savior. In Him I found truth...hope...purpose…and so much more. Jesus changed my life! I know He can change yours as well if you choose. You can choose to reject Him like Herod…
you can ignore Him as the religious leaders did...
or you can join me and worship Him as King of your life.
I still find today what I learned then...
Wise men still seek Him.