Matthew 2:1-2 “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.’”
We could spend a long time discussing s what this star really was. It has become one of the chief symbols of Christmas. Some believe God made use of a natural occurrence in the sky: a comet, a supernova, or a conjunction of the planets Saturn and Jupiter in 7 B.C. Some believe the description of the star’s movement so defies anything we see in the heavens that God must have provided some other kind of light in the sky miraculously. I strongly lean that way myself. But even if we were able to settle the debate definitively, what would we do with the information?
This much we can say without debate: God was at work behind the things the wise men saw and experienced. He was even using it to guide them in a certain direction. But the things they saw and experienced in life could only get them so far. They could not lead them all the way to Christ. For that they needed something more.
It is the same for us. The last two times my family and I moved, we looked at lots of houses. Neither time did we get the house that was our first choice. I’m not saying that what we got was worse. In each case it was far better. But why? Why didn’t we get the home we wanted first? We have a sense that God is guiding these kinds of things. When my friend had her car break down several years ago, she ended up in a car dealership sitting next to a member of my congregation in Dallas. When her car broke down, she could not have known God would use it to get her back into church. But just meeting the man from our church didn’t bring her back to Jesus all by itself.
My point is this: We trust that God is guiding and directing the story of our lives. The things we see and experience come from him. Sometimes we have an idea of where he is leading. But we are never certain what he is doing based on experience alone. We can’t fill in all the blanks. By itself, “Life” never leads us all the way to Christ.
None of us would be worshiping Jesus as our King if it weren’t for our true guide: “When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written: But you Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’”
The star could tell the Magi a king had been born among the Jews. God’s own word, revealed through the prophet Micah, could tell them who and what he was, and where he would be born. The prophecy promises a King from Bethlehem, a good ruler who would take care of God’s people like a Good Shepherd. A Shepherd doesn’t just rule the sheep and tell them what to do. He takes care of them. He feeds them. He even lays his life down to protect them. A little further into the prophecy than Matthew takes us, we learn that this King, has origins before time. In other words, he is no ordinary human being. He is timeless. He is your God.
Micah’s words, then, guide the Magi to know the King himself. God’s Word is still the true guide leading us to Jesus. The Apostle Paul once wrote, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (That is, to bring Christ down) or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’ (That is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? ‘The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,’ that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming.” Do you want to find Jesus? You don’t have to haul him out of heaven or dig up his grave (you know that’s empty anyway). Just listen to the Word of God that is preached to you, because that’s where Jesus still promises to be found.
And what do we find when we come looking? He is more than an interesting historical character to study. He provides more than wholesome entertainment to distract. Finding him isn’t primarily about finding healing or inspiration, or saving our marriage, or getting control of our drinking problem, though he can do all those things for us, too.
But when God’s word is our guide we find the one who forgives our sins, who came to save us from sin and death. That is why we also come to worship him.