Matthew 2:9-12 (NIV)
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
There are a multitude of stark differences between Herod and the wise men. But I want to look at two of the largest differences:
- The Magi were overjoyed at the prospect of the Messiah’s arrival, even though they were not even Jewish. They seemed to have a sense that the arrival of this new king would have dramatic and positive implications for the whole world, even for them and their people.
Herod, on the other hand, saw in the coming of the Messiah only a threat to the status quo, which he was in a continual battle to maintain. He did not feel the need for a Messiah himself. He felt that he could accomplish all that needed doing in his own strength. So he saw the Messiah not as a blessing, but as a threat to his own autonomy.
- The Magi were motivated to go and find the Messiah, even though it meant a long and arduous journey. The drive to personally see and participate in what God was doing right then was enough to drive them out of their comfort zone right into the stream of God’s will.
Herod, though, wasn’t interested in what God was doing; he was only concerned about the possible negative impact it might have on his own agenda. He had no desire to go and see, but sent the wise men as his proxy, to check things out and report back. And his agenda was not to participate in what God was doing, but to stop Him in any what that he could.
Even today there are those who are excited by what God is doing, searching for where He is working, and getting involved however they can. There are also those who are made fearful when God acts, and feel safest when they can avoid those things. Some even try to stop them or squash those who are involved.
But the greatest blessings still come to those who seek God in what He is doing, who set aside their own agendas to be a part God’s agenda, and who go where He is actively present, and present themselves and their gifts to God in worship and adoration. Those are the ones who will continue to be guided by the Spirit of God and suffused with His presence.
Father, thank You that You are still working in our world today – that You still show us by many signs where You are actively present, and still draw us to Yourself to participate in Your work. Help us to never be satisfied with sending others to go into Your presence for us, and then tell us what you say, so that we don’t have to pay the price and spend the time to seek You out ourselves (cf. Exodus 20:18-19). Instead, draw us so powerfully to Yourself that we can’t help but follow Your star, wherever it leads us, and give our all to serve You. Amen.