Unexpected Humility the Wise men
The Upward Look, by Jon Forrest
Unexpected Humility - The Wise Men
You likely heard in the news about a controversial sign that an Atheist organization posted in New York City’s Time Square several years ago. It read Who Needs Christ During Christmas? Nobody.
The truth is that many people who claim faith in Christ act out the words of this sign. They get so engulfed by the material and secular aspects of the celebration that they have unwittingly embraced the concept.
We don’t need Christ at Christmas time. We desperately need him all year long, every minute of every day. He is the hope of our lives and more than the Reason for the Season. He is our very reason to live.
One of the reasons people find no need for God or for Christ is arrogance. Human nature is geared to the “me first” mentality that permeates the race of mankind. There is the humanistic philosophy that says, “I am my own god. The goal of my life is to make me feel good.”
But the truth is that Christmas all begins with humility. The Son of God surrendered His heavenly position and His untouchable condition in spirit form to become a lowly human being. Not only did he humble himself to be one of us, but among the lowliest of us.
As a result, we must become lowly ourselves in order to connect with his essence.
Sometimes that is demonstrated in our prayer lives…
Three ministers were talking about prayer in general and the appropriate and effective positions for prayer. As they were talking, a telephone repairman was working on the phone system in the background. One minister shared that he felt the key was in the hands. He always held his hands together and pointed them upward as a form of symbolic worship. The second suggested that real prayer was conducted on your knees. The third suggested that they both had it wrong--the only position worth its salt was to pray while stretched out flat on your face. By this time the phone man couldn’t stay out of the conversation any longer. He interjected, "I found that the most powerful prayer I ever made was while I was dangling upside down by my heels from a power pole, suspended forty feet above the ground."
When we look at Matthew’s account of the Birth of Christ we find a strong emphasis on the coming of the Magi, or Wise Men, from the east. These were men of tremendous wealth, education and position. They were likely men who would have many servants and the respect of their people.
When they spotted the magnificent star of David, they knew it was time to go and check out the prophetic Scriptures they had studied all their lives. So, they packed their bags, gathered up gifts fit for a King and headed for Palestine.
When they arrived in Jerusalem they sought out the palace of King Herod, a maniacal dictator who was addicted to power and unwilling to share with anyone. When the magi arrived they asked Herod’s help in finding the new King of the Jews who had been born. They explained that they had seen his star in the East and had come to worship Him. Once the scribes and chief priests had been gathered, they announced that, according to the Prophets, the Christ, or Messiah, would be born in Bethlehem.
Herod feared the idea of another King so he lied to the Wise Men requesting that, when they found the baby they would come back and tell him the baby’s location so he could worship him too.
When the Magi departed Jerusalem they were thrilled to find the bright star again and followed it to Bethlehem and were guided to them to a house. There, they found the child and his parents in a house where they were staying. They brought with them gifts of God, Frankincense and Myrrh.
Most important about this is that these great men cast aside their pride and humbled themselves before the new King and worshipped him.
There is significance to the three gifts: Gold is the gift for royalty, a gift for a king. Frankincense was for divinity, a gift you give a God. And myrrh is a funeral gift, a gift used for burial. Their gifts demonstrated amazing insight. Initially, you might think these gifts were a lucky coincidence, but they’re not. God set up the events of Christmas in such a way that you would know that He was carefully orchestrating each element of it, centuries in advance. Nine months before Christmas, God sent an angel to tell Joseph and Mary about the birth of His Son. Christmas night, God sent angels to communicate with shepherds about the birth of His Son. Hundreds of years before Christmas, God sent a holy man – Daniel – to the eastern peoples to prepare their highest caste, their wise men, (court advisors to the king) to respond to the birth of His Son. God communicated to the wise men that the Messiah would be king and God, and that He would come to die. Through a combination of Daniel’s leadership, Hebrew Scripture, and the tailor-made revelation of a star, these wise men knew as much or more about the nature of the Messiah as the Jewish people.
God knew that there was no humility in the heart of Herod so he appeared to the Magi in a dream telling them to go home a different way so they did.
Christ came to elevate the humble and humble the proud.
The Shepherd’s had to be elevated in order to worship the Son of God. The Magi had to humble themselves in order to worship anyone, including Christ.
This Sunday we will conclude our Christmas season with a message titled Christmas All Year Long. Our text will be Matthew 2:13-23. I hope that you have an amazing Christmas and that you will join us Sunday for the service.