Follow The Gleam Matthew 2:2

Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we saw his star in the east, and are come to worship him. - Matthew 2:2

There are some stories that we never grow tired of, are there not? I expect most of you have books that you have read over and over again, and yet you are just as fond of them as the first time you opened them. Among the stories we never weary of are those two beautiful tales of Christ's infancy - the story of how the shepherds, watching their flocks under the cold stars, heard the angel's song; the story of how these strange Wise Men came from the mysterious East to worship the baby King. And so today, once more, we are going to hear the old, old story of the brave Wise Men who followed the guiding star.

We are told very little about these Wise Men, but we can guess a good deal. In the margin of the Revised Version of the Bible there is a little note which tells us that the Greek word translated "Wise Men" is "Magi." Now the Magi were originally Persian priests who devoted themselves to the study of the stars and also to many forms of magic. Later the name was given to wise men of other nations who pursued these studies. The Magi built high towers from which they watched the movements and appearances of the stars, and they connected these movements with events that happened on the earth and especially with births.

Now about this time there seems to have been a widespread expectation of a coming Deliverer who was to rule over all the earth. Some said He was to be born in Judaea. Also there were many Jews in the land where these Magi lived, and they had told them of the great Messiah who was to come and conquer all the world. You may be sure these devout old astrologers were on the look out for any unusual appearance in the heavens that might betoken His coming. Night after night they climbed their watch- towers and scanned the skies, and when one night they saw a bright new star shining in the direction of the land of Judaea they felt sure that the King was born.

They had a strange religion, these men - full of odd superstitions - and yet they were groping after God, and God led them by the light they had to the feet of Jesus.

You may be sure there was great rejoicing that night in that Eastern land as the Magi gathered together and consulted when they could be ready to set out to pay homage to the King. The gifts must be chosen - the best they had - for was He not a King, and only the best might be offered to a King? The water-bottles must be filled, the food prepared, the tents made ready, the camels loaded; for the journey was a long and weary one, and would occupy months.

At length the arrangements were made and the preparations began. Some men shook their heads and said the Magi were foolish to venture on such a journey. They would have to cross many a weary desert, they would have to climb many a rugged mountain pass, they would have to traverse many a rapid river. They would be in danger from the scorching sun by day and the cold winds by night, from wild beasts and robbers, from floods and droughts, from sickness and exhaustion. Who knew if they would ever return? But the Wise Men replied that the star was beckoning them and that they must follow where it led. And so they set out.

They travelled by night, for it was cooler then, and at night they had the light of the stars to guide them. At first the strange new star seemed to go before them leading them on, but later it disappeared. The days grew into weeks, the weeks into months, and at length one morning they found themselves on the outskirts of Jerusalem. They had come to the capital, for surely the great King would be found in the capital of His country.

As they entered one of the gates they inquired of a sentry where was He who was born King of the Jews, for they had seen His star in the east and were come to worship Him. The man stopped a yawn to gaze at them. He had been up all night and was just going off duty. "King of the Jews, King of the Jews!" Was it King Herod they wanted? Well, of course, he was to be found up at the palace. But he certainly was not horn a king. He had been made a king by force of Roman arms, but he was not born into the royal estate. Besides, he was an old man now - almost seventy years of age. No, that could not be the king they were seeking.

They went on into the city, and soon they met a Jewish merchant hurrying to the market-place. They repeated their question - "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?" The man looked amazed. The King of the Jews born! The great Messiah come to earth! Who had been telling them fables? Certainly the Messiah would come some day. Was He not the hope of all the Jews and would He not go forth conquering and to conquer? But when He came there would be some strange manifestation of God. Everyone would know about His advent. No, no, they might take his (the merchant's) word for it that the great Deliverer had not arrived. He was in the marketplace every day except the Sabbath, and he heard all the news of the countryside. If anything unusual happened he would be the first to know it. To be sure there had been that strange story of the shepherds many weeks ago. It had raised no little stir in the town for a day or two. But of course when people thought the matter over they saw the absurdity of it. Who ever heard of a great king being born in a stable? The thing was ridiculous! He was sorry they had come so far on a fool's errand, but if they had any wares to exchange he would be pleased to examine them. After that, the sooner they returned to their own country the better.

And so it was with everyone they inquired of. Nobody seemed to know anything about the new King. Many looked alarmed. Had an unknown pretender sprung up, and were they to have disturbances and bloodshed in their midst? The Wise Men might well have been discouraged, but they felt so sure that the star had betokened the birth of the great Messiah, and they were so determined that they would discover the King, that they continued to ask their question - "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?"

At last the news came to the ears of Herod; and Herod was sorely troubled. Had the Messiah really come or had someone invented this story to cause a disturbance among the Jews and so wrest his throne from him? He must look into the matter at once. He must discover where this child was to be found and slay him before the Jews took up his cause.

So he sent for the wise Jewish priests and scribes and demanded of them where their Christ was to be born. And when he had got the necessary information he sent for the Wise Men secretly and told them to go to the village of Bethlehem six miles to the south of Jerusalem, and when they had found the young child to come back and report to him that he also might go and worship him.

So the Wise Men set out once more. It was evening, and as they went on their way they discussed among themselves how they would know in which house to look for the baby. And as they talked one of them looked up into the starry heavens. And lo, the star which had appeared to them in the East and had vanished as they travelled, appeared again and went before them. It led them to Bethlehem and seemed to stand over a certain humble house in the village. And there at last they found the King, of kings whom they had sought so long and so faithfully; there at last they fell down and worshipped Him and offered up their gifts.

Boys and girls, there are two things we can learn from these Wise Men of old.

1. They found the star because they looked for it. God has given us many stars to guide us to Jesus. There is the star of beauty - the beauty of the world around us, which speaks to us of God's love for us. There is the shining light of God's Word in which we can all read and learn of Him. There is the star of conscience which calls to us every day. There is the star of our mother's love which is but a feeble reflection of the love of God. Above all, there is the star of Jesus' tender pleading self-sacrificing love which draws us to His side. Have you looked for any of these stars, dear children?

2. And second, when these Wise Men had found the star they followed it. It isn't much use finding the star unless we follow. It is only when we follow that it leads to the feet of Jesus. Many of you have found the star, your own particular star, for there are many stars and we are not all led by the same one. If you have found your star, then follow it. Don't turn your back on it. It is only a star, but it will lead you to the Sun of Righteousness.