On December 21, my wife, daughter, and I stood in our driveway (Sapulpa, Ok) and marveled at the beautiful sight of Jupiter and Saturn (the two largest planets in our solar system) as they "aligned" and gave off a marvelous light, marking the beginning of the winter solstice. Their alignment this year is rare and hasn't been seen since the Middle Ages. It is this phenomenon, many believe, that the Wise Men witnessed so many years ago. How blessed we are to have been able to see it as we approach Christmas day, 2020. It should cause all of us to stop and think...
Whether or not this was the "astrological display" witnessed by the Wise Men is still a matter of debate. What is no debate, however, is that "the heavens are declaring the glory of God." It is clear, from Matthew's gospel, that the Wise Men saw a sign in the sky and they were determined to journey to Bethlehem to see the new born King. There are several things we should note...
1. Nothing and No One Was Going to Deter Them. The text clearly indicates that they "came from a far." Their journey to find the Christ child was a long one. Further, when summoned to appear before king Herod, they were "commissioned" to be a part of his evil plot to kill the child and were instructed to find the child and report back to the king. But they would have no part of this scheme. They did continue in their quest to find the Christ child but had no intention of betraying the Messiah to an earthly king. Their mission was one of worship and praise and nothing would deter them from this goal.
2. They Came Bearing Gifts. Gold, frankincense, and myrrh were the gifts they bore. Gold, no doubt, was the proper gift for One born to be king. The frankincense, most likely, was in honor of his "priestly" nature; ;and the myrrh would be an obvious reference to the fact that this child was born to die for the sins of the world. They brought gifts that would be an appropriate expression of their love and adoration for the new born King.
3. They Bowed Down and Worshipped Him. Their appropriate response, after traveling such a distance, was to humble themselves before the baby. Worship, though filled with praise, is always an expression of our humility before Almighty God. Someone once said, "If a president or king entered the room we would stand out of respect and awe; but if Christ were to enter the room the only proper response would be to kneel before him."
4. Their Lives Were Changed. "Having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route." Their lives were to be guided, not by the whims of earthly potentates, but rather by the divine oracles of a marvelous God. Following their encounter with the Christ child, their lives were "on a different path." And so should ours be as well!
As I saw the "display" in the sky this past Monday, I thought to myself, this is a time too for me to make my journey to Bethlehem once again. Not a physical trip by plane, but rather a journey of the heart to a place where I, along with the Wise Men, kneel before him and invite him once again to reign in my life. In this journey I know I'm not alone, for many have "seen His star" and now begun to seek him!
Dr. Allen Schneider is a United Methodist pastor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist presently serving the Sapulpa and greater Tulsa communities.