The Wise Men And The Child

Scripture Reading: Matthew 1 and 2

The Gospel of Matthew begins with a genealogy. Then comes the story of the birth and infancy. Jesus was born at Bethlehem. This was the most wonderful event of human history — the coming of the Son of God in human flesh into this world. Love was born that night. True, there was love in the world before. Mothers loved their children. Friend love friend. Natural affection was common. But the love which we know as Christian love had its beginning in the birth of Jesus Christ. It is well for us to note, however, that the historical event of Christ’s birth is not that which saves us. He must be born again in us.

Though Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be born,
If He’s not born in thee, thy soul is all forlorn.

This greatest even in history made little stir in the world. Usually when heirs to a throne are born whole realms ring with joy. But when the Messiah was born, there was no earthly rejoicing. A few humble shepherds came and looked with wonder on the new-born Babe that lay in the young mother’s arms — but that was all. The Jews had been looking for their Messiah, but did not recognize Him when He came. His advent was quiet. There was no blare of trumpets. Noise and show are not necessary accompaniments of power. The mightiest energies in this world are often the quietest. The grace of God always comes quietly. Angels minister noiselessly. The most useful Christians are not those who make the most ado at their work, but those who in humility and simplicity, unconscious of any splendor in their faces, go daily about their work for their Master.

We cannot understand just how the wise men were led to Jerusalem. They said they saw the King’s star in the east and were led by it. There has been a great deal of speculation as to the character of this star, whether it was a natural or a supernatural appearance. But no matter — whatever it was, it led these men to the feet of Christ. Even the faintest glimmerings of spiritual light should be welcomed by us and their guidance accepted. We should not wit to know all about Christ, and to see Him in all His glory, before we set out to seek Him. We should follow the first faint gleams, and then as we go on the light will brighten, and we shall see more and more of Him, until at length we behold Him in all His blessed beauty, face to face. Certainly there is no one in Christian lands in these days who does not have a great deal more light to guide him to the Christ than these wise men had.

The Herods have an unenviable record in New Testament history. When this Herod, Herod the Great, heard the inquiries of the wise men, he was greatly troubled. Hearing of Christ does not always bring joy. It brought gladness to the humble shepherds and to the wise men, but to Herod it brought great distress. Christ’s name makes bad men think of their sins and then of the judgment. It is only when we see Christ and want to have Him for our Friend that the thought of Him is sweet and pleasant. “For you therefore that believe is the preciousness.” Those whose faith is fixed upon Him are never terrified by thoughts of Him.

Herod, unable himself to answer the question of the wise men, turned to the scribes and asked them where the Messiah should be born. It did not take them long to give the answer. They could even give chapter and verse, and could tell the very name of the town in which the Messiah was to be born. These facts were all down in their books. Yet we do not see that they made any use of their knowledge. They could tell the wise men where the Christ was to be born, but they did not themselves take one step toward Bethlehem to search for Him, when they learned of His birth there. Most of us know our Bible well, and can tell others glibly enough where and how to find the Christ. But have we ourselves gone to the place where He is, to search for Him and to worship Him?

The scene when the wise men found the Child-king was very beautiful. They saw only a little baby lying in a young mother’s arms. There was no crown on His head. No glory gleamed from His face. His surroundings were most unkingly, without pomp or brilliance. The child did nothing before them to show His royalty — spoke no word, wrought no kingly act of power. Yet the wise men believed and worshipped Him. Think how much more we know about the Christ than they did. It is easy for us to find kingly marks in Him. Shall we be behind the wise men in our adoration?

The wise men did more than adore — they opened their treasures and offered gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh which they had brought all the way from their own home. The sincerity of their worship was thus attested by the costliness of their gifts. The treasures they had brought were of great value — the most costly things they could find, the best they had to give. It is not enough to give Christ a homage that costs nothing. He asks for our gifts, the offerings of our love, our service, the consecration of our lives. Giving is the test of loving — the measure of our loving is what we are willing to give and sacrifice.

There are many ways of laying our offerings at the feet of Jesus Christ. He Himself does not need our money, but His cause needs it. The extension of His kingdom in this world at home and abroad requires money, and this must be brought by His followers. Those who have no interest in the saving of others, in the sending of the Gospel to those who have it not, have not themselves really tasted of the love of Christ.