1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5 "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:
6 "'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'"
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."
No doubt, we could go down some serious rabbit trails with these verses getting us nowhere fast. It would be possible to major on the minors here seeking answers to such questions as – Exactly how many Magi came searching for the King of Kings; From what country did they actually come; How did they know the star they saw was “His Star”; Why were people so ignorant in Jerusalem regarding the “Desire of all nations” coming into the world and now already around two years old; Why was His birth apparently so obscured and ignored by His own people who held the prophecy in their hands; and on and on the questions might go. Sometimes the economy of words in Scripture leaves us hanging with the three year old one word question of “Why?” I am reminded of the words in Deuteronomy:
29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law. Deut 29:29 (NIV)
Rather than delve into the obscure and subjective, the Truth I see blazingly confronting us in this passage - demanding our full attention - is the importance and priority of worship. Indeed, these verses beg the question to us all – Do we willingly seek to worship our Lord as these wise Magi did?
The motivation for worship and praise of our Father in heaven is limitless indeed. We worship God for Who He is - in the fullness of His Majesty - in all His many attributes – His holiness and perfection, His loving kindness, His tender mercy and compassion, His constant faithfulness and gentleness, His omnipotent power and omniscience, His creativity and vastness and on and on. We worship Him for all He does – every good and perfect gift is from above; for all the blessings He bestows upon us. Indeed, Scripture states the Father in heaven causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous:
“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matt 5:45 (NIV)
While these motivations for worship are worthy and most acceptable, I believe the highest form of worship – the “sacrifice of Praise” if you will - comes from the lips of those who choose to praise Him even when the circumstances we find ourselves in are not what we desire – oftentimes far from what we desire. It is when we receive a “No” to our leanings and wants in lieu of getting a “Yes”. It is a praise that flows from lips that Trust Him both with their lives and with everything that concerns them and our Lord is most glorified and honored in this. When we choose to do this, in my opinion, it is a proclamation of supreme faith. I am reminded of the words of the Prophet Habakkuk:
17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Hab 3:17-18 (NIV)
This is also the fleshing out of Romans 8:28 – all things are not innately good but as a believer the promise of Scripture is that all things will work for our good.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (NIV)
“Could you ask for a better promise? It is better that all things should work for my good than all things should be as I would wish to have them. All things might work for my pleasure and yet might all work my ruin. If all things do not always please me, they will always benefit me. This is the best promise of this life.” Charles Haddon Spurgeon
“Reader, let’s put this question – do you worship the Lord with gladness? Let’s show to the people of the world, who think our religion to be slavery, that it is to us a delight and a joy! Let our gladness proclaim that we worship a good Master.” Charles H. Spurgeon