The Christmas Story: The Wisdom of The Wise Men

Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1-2, NLT)

My First Sermon

The first sermon I ever preached seven years ago, the Sunday before Christmas, was on these two verses. They were assigned to me by the chaplain. I knew nothing about preaching, Bible doctrine, exegesis, exposition or how to understand a verse in it’s proper context.

I knew very little about the Bible and had no clue how I was going to preach from something I knew so little about. Really, all I knew about the Bible is that it is the word of God. I was convinced of that much. So I took the chaplain’s request for me to preach very seriously.

Read, Pray, Meditate

I share this with you to give you an illustration. You don’t have to know a lot about the Bible to be enriched and blessed by it. If you will simply read it, take it serious and meditate on what is written in it you can be greatly blessed by it without being a Bible scholar.

Ask Two Simple Questions

Since I didn’t really know what to do or how to prepare a sermon I asked myself one simple question about the text: What do these verses reveal to me about God? Then I prayed and prayed and prayed and read the text over and over again until I felt like I had found everything that the passage revealed to me about God.

Then I asked myself a second simple question: How should this change my life? Then again, I prayed and prayed and read the text over and over again until I felt like I had found every way that what the passage revealed about God should change my life. And little ole me, who knew nothing about the Bible, and had never preached before, got such a powerful message out of it that I got a standing ovation from all 300 plus inmates in attendance that day.

I was not the only one enriched and blessed by those two simple questions that day. After all these years of study, what I got from it that day hasn’t changed much to this day. I didn’t miss the mark too far. I did have a little Bible dictionary and some study Bibles I was just barely learning how to use. (Once again, I cannot emphasize enough how much of a difference a good Bible dictionary and study Bible can make in your life.) But it was the prayer and meditation (soaking up the Scripture; internalizing it) that made all the difference.

Jesus is Worthy of our Worship

So what does this passage reveal about God and how should that change our lives? First of all it reveals that Jesus is worthy of our worship. The wise men traveled very far from some distant country in the east to come worship Jesus and they didn’t come empty handed. Some scholars suggest that their journey most likely took them some months to get to Bethlehem. Which means they would’ve actually left their country long before Jesus was even born in order to get their in time for His birth.

Jesus is God

Secondly, this passage reveals that Jesus must be God because only God is worthy of our worship. If Jesus is not God then the Bible would be advocating worship to someone else other than God and God wouldn’t do that. This point really challenged me in my faith back then. At that point I had been a Christian for only two years and I was still really struggling with my understanding of the Trinity amd the diety of Christ. Passages like this just wouldn’t let me get around the fact that either Jesus is God or this book is a lie. Either I was just going to have to accept it or deny it and didismiss everything else in the book too.

Wise Men Come to Worship

Last but not least, this passage reveals that wise men come to worship. This was the point where I challenged my audience that day seven years ago. And it will be the point where I challenge you today. Really, it is God’s challenge to you, not mine. The wisdom of the wise men was displayed in that they came to worship Jesus.

When they saw His star they didn’t just say, “Hey! Check this out. The Messiah is going to be born in a few months. Isn’t that cool,” and then go back to the daily affairs of their lives like it was no big deal. No. Their wisdom was displayed in that they acknowledged that this was a big deal. This was major. This was important. This was going to change everything.

So they loaded up their camels. Dropped whatever else they had going on. Packed up their gifts. And hit the road. They didn’t want to miss this. They wanted to be in on the action. They wanted to witness the birth of the King who was going to change everything and they wanted to pay homage accordingly.

See, we just pass over the mention that they were wise men. Assuming it’s just reffering to the fact that they were able to figure out the star thing. But their real wisdom was displayed in their worship. They traveled a great distance. Spent their own money and resources with no financial gain in return. Following  a star that they weren’t sure where it would lead them. Just to go worship the newborn king.

I can imagine their friends probably thought they were crazy. If we saw something like this today we’d probably label that person as crazy. You’re going to do what? Go where? Oh you don’t know where? Spend how much money? Oh… however much it takes to get there? And you’re bringing gifts to who? Oh… someone that’s not even born yet? And why? To worship him? Okay buddy.

Yeah. We’d probably think they’d lost their marbles. But the Bible says they were wise men. Wise men come to worship. So this Christmas let us be wise men come to worship Him who is God in the flesh worthy of our worship. May our wisdom be like the wisdom of the wise men in the Christmas story.

Joseph Sterling

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Questions for reflection in your Bible reading:

1. What does this passage reveal to me about God?

2. How should that change my life?