Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
'And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
// Matthew 2:1-6
“For we saw His star rise…” What a beautiful image. These Magi saw the rising, the advent, of another’s star and knew Him to have been born a king. They came prepared to worship Him, to recognize His kingship and to seek Him out.
When the Lord first visited Abraham and promised that he would be the father of many nations, He took him out into the night, turned his gaze upwards and asked him to count the stars. Is it any wonder, then, that these men from Persia, living close to where Abraham had emigrated from thousands of years earlier, were found looking up into the night sky to behold His star, and then set out along the same trajectory that Abraham had taken to find the King he had been promised?
We can learn something so powerful from these Magi: they were looking up into the heavens for understanding, direction and inspiration for their lives on earth. Sure, in the most literal way, they were simply staring into the night sky, but this episode shows us the importance of looking into Heaven to see what it will reveal to us about the King and where we should seek Him.
When our eyes are fixed on Heaven we become men and women of faith, like our father of faith, Abraham. When we behold Heaven’s plan for our lives on earth, we will set out to walk an unfamiliar path, heading in an unfamiliar direction, in order to seek out God’s newly-born purpose for us, wrapped up in the unusual packaging of humility. It takes a humble heart to gaze into Heaven, to lift our eyes up and away from our own strength, our own efforts and the power of our hands’ abilities. It takes courage, when we’ve seen His Rising Star and heard the call to seek Him out, to strike out by faith into the unknown.
Like the Magi, we will find ourselves journeying toward Bethlehem – a no-name small town in the backwaters of Judea (think “Fargo, North Dakota”) – to kneel before and behold the King. And when we walk by faith we can be assured, though our pursuit of them may lead us to Bethlehem, that we will also find the King and His purposes hidden there, in the obscurity.
Here’s the great mystery: Bethlehem means “House of Bread,” and in Jesus’ ministry He stood up and called Himself the Bread of Heaven (see John 6). When our eyes are fixed on Heaven, we will see that God has made provision; it may take great humility to journey toward obscurity in order to find it, but that provision is His very own Bread from Heaven – Bread that gives us His Everlasting Life. When we are willing to lift our eyes to the Lord, we are assured that He will always provide for us. It may just take profound humility to kneel down and find it.