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They Came to Worship

December 30, 2013

Yesterday I preached on the story of the wise men, or magi, in Matthew 2. Such a common story but it is also greatly distorted in the modern church. To better understand our tradition, we need to look at what Matthew does, and does not, tell us about the magi.

Despite the ever popular hymn written by John Henry Hopkins, Jr., we do not know the number of magi that came to worship Jesus. Matthews account does allow us to see there was more than one magi, but it does not tell us exactly how many. More than likely, they came with quite an entourage. Again, this didn’t matter to Matthew; he felt we just need to know that more than one traveled to Jesus’ home.

Another popular myth of the magi was they arrived at manger and worshipped the baby Jesus. This is also untrue. First, it would have taken the magi months of travel to get to Bethlehem considering they were most likely from an area we now call Iraq or Iran. Considering they were traveling loaded with gifts this trip would have taken an estimated three to five months. In verse 11, Matthew records they went “into the house and saw the child.” (ESV) No manger, no baby. To further clarify this point, when the magi left, Herod ordered all male children who were two years old or younger killed.

These two myths, now busted, leave us wondering what this story is all about. After all, what is the point of this story now that we lack the manger scene we grew up with as our traditional nativity? Verses 2 and 11 hold the real purpose of the magi’s mission. Worship! They have come from afar to worship Jesus. Only after they had fell and worshipped Jesus did they present Him with their gifts. They traveled all that way, accepting the hardships of that travel, to do one thing – worship Jesus!

That is how we need to relate to the magi: are we willing to endure the hardships that come with worshipping Jesus? We often talk about how wonderful it is to be a follower of Jesus, and it is. But we frequently omit that it comes with a cost. Hardship and discomfort are part of that wonderful life. Are we willing for walk in the path of the magi to do the one thing they did? Worship Jesus!

As we enter this week where we will celebrate Calendar Change Day, known to others as New Year’s Day, are we willing to reevaluate out lives and take the hardships and sacrifice to really worship Jesus. Worship Him in the morning and the evening. Worship him with our work and our play. Worship him when things are good and when things are bad. Are you willing to travel the distance and worship the King Jesus? Worship Jesus!

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