Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
// Matthew 2:7-12
There’s a song that says, “Shine in our hearts, Jesus, beautiful Star; lead us to where you are.” We are called by the Father to follow Jesus’ Star to where He is, so that we can bow down and adore Him. He should be the principal Star that excites our interest, draws out our fascination and leaves us star struck. If we are to become as He is, like John the Apostle encourages us, then we have to ask ourselves how childlike we are willing to become in order to find Him. Childlikeness involves fascination, wonder, awe and an incredible imaginative capacity. It takes true humility and uninhibited faith.
These wise men, these Magi, came from the East to find the Child, which His Star declared, because they were fascinated and filled with wonder. Like Abraham, they left Persian lands to head West, looking for they knew not what, all because they were fascinated by the arrival – the Advent – of a new Star. Scholars believe it took about two years from the time they first saw His Star until they beheld Him for themselves, and that their journey from Persia to Bethlehem would have taken at least a month on foot. How many of us would be willing to go out wandering into unknown lands because we’d caught a glimpse of something fascinating?
And what’s more, these Magi weren’t devout Jews living afar from Judea, but they were heathens and pagans. They were Zoroastrian priests who practiced astrology and magic. They knew little of the true God or of any prophecy about the coming of the Messiah, His Son. (There’s actually reasonable evidence to suggest they may have read of a coming Messiah from their sacred texts, because the Magi were from the same lands where Daniel was exiled, where he had taught the magicians – the Magi – of Babylon how to interpret prophetic messages.) And yet, they were fascinated by what His Star told them and they knew Him to be a great King, so they struck out to find Him, to see if these things were true.
They came prepared to worship Him: they came with their treasures, they came with joy-filled hearts, they came ready to welcome Him into their world. Unlike the shepherds, who met Him as an infant, these Magi had the joy of seeing a wily toddler of two years, and in Him they could see a King worthy of their awe and their treasures. Once they found Him, their sense of awe and wonder wasn’t disappointed.
When we read the story of the ancient Magi, it raises some crucial questions for us even today: do we have a sense of awe of Him? Do we let that awe drive us to find Him and fall to our knees and worship Him? How childlike is our wonder? How fascinated are our hearts? Let the Advent of Christ capture your imagination this Christmas season, sparking your fascination and your childlike sense of wonder.