The Three Wise Men: Giving it Up to Get it All

ch4avmdbr4q-sylwia-bartyzel_e.jpg

Each year around Christmas, I always make a concerted effort to re-read the Christmas story as a part of my traditions. The unwed couple that bravely answered their calling, the King of Kings coming to Earth in the most humble way imagined, and the beauty of God rescuing us through the sacrifice of His perfect lamb always strikes me in a new way every year.  But the one aspect that I so often overlook? The three wise men.

They’ve always seemed like just a small detail to me, something I really didn’t need to pay attention to. They came, they brought awesome, expensive birthday gifts to Jesus, the end.

Right?

While on the surface their part in the Christmas story seems to have little consequence, there is something truly profound about the three wise men and their journey to visit Jesus.

Recently, in an effort to slow down and reflect in these weeks leading up to Christmas, I’ve taken on the challenge of writing down a verse every day and one verse in particular had me scribing the story of the wise men in Matthew 2:7-12.

The three wise men set out to find Jesus as an order from King Herod. Their intention was not to go and celebrate and worship this newborn King, but to find him and report his whereabouts.

They were simply following an order.

But when they arrived to see this baby laying in a manger their whole lives were changed. Their intention of finding this child and reporting back to King Herod was derailed by the awe of standing in the presence of a King.

They saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.
— verse 11

Just seeing Jesus left them no other choice but to worship.

Isn’t that the perfect illustration of the gospel?

Three men simply going about their day until an encounter with God leaves them magnificently changed and compelled to lay down their lives.

The goodness of His presence, and the humbleness of our King, draws our hearts into a relationship. It’s the sweetness of encountering the Gospel, and seeing that our efforts towards holiness are futile but that His grace is enough, that moves us to give up the things of this world to gain more of Him.

A closer look would reveal the wise men doing just that.

Their gifts of frankincense, myrrh, and gold, spoke much more loudly than a simple offering to a king.

These gifts they laid before Jesus were an act of worship.

In John Piper’s sermon entitled “We have come to worship Him,” he states that it wasn’t custom to bring a monarch a gift during this time period. In fact, it would actually bring dishonor.

If no one could bring a gift worthy of a true King, why did the wise men offer these rare, expensive gifts? 

It was an effort to say “You are my treasure, not these things.”

How beautiful that these three men would get the divine opportunity to cast crowns before Jesus on this side of heaven.

Not that He needed them.

Not that He wanted them.

But as a demonstration of three people casting down their idols before the King and offering Him the throne of their hearts.

During this time of the year when we are so focused on receiving and indulging our wants, ask yourself this: what are the things in your life that He’s calling you to cast down before Him in an effort to say “You, Jesus, mean more?”

Is it an obsession over materialism?

Is it how you’ve been spending your time?

Is it a sin you’ve white-knuckled for years but haven’t released?

Whatever it may be, there isn’t anything we can give but our devotion.

There is no better act of worship than to glorify the King and demonstrate to the world that He is better and He is worthy than by giving him whatever it is that is ruling our hearts.

Like the three wise men, we can be forever changed when we encounter the presence of Jesus. So set aside time and be still before Him and ask what is keeping you from living a life of unabandoned worship.

Set your eyes upon the true treasure this Christmas and adore the One who is deserving of our attention.