On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Matt. 2:11, NIV
A common misconception, especially around Christmas time, is that the wise men came to worship Jesus in the stable. Actually, Jesus was between 1 and 2 years old when this took place. [One of the clues to this is that they were in a ‘house’ when the wise men came.] Jesus was a lively toddler running around when the wise men met Him.
The wise men came for one purpose - to worship. Worship is not something that happens by accident. We do not go to a ‘worship’ service with our minds a million miles away and then come away saying we worshipped. At the end of such a service some people have worshipped and others have not, even through they may have said and done the same things. Worship is deliberate, it is focused. That is not to say that worship is limited to what may happen in a church service. Our entire lifestyle to be worship, but that only happens as we are intentionally seeking to follow Jesus. Paul said it this way in Romans 12:1: present your bodies a living sacrifice…
These wise men also made worship a priority. It wasn’t something they tried to engage when they had spare time. They realized the importance of Who they came to worship. They left their family, friends and work in order to journey to a far country in order to worship. We will never engage in true worship if we are half-hearted or distracted. Worship has to become a priority.
I’m sure when the wise men saw a 1 year-old running around having fun, it was not what they expected. They had invested time, money and their very lives into coming here. Yet they were not discouraged. With eyes of faith they knew Who this excited toddler was. They did not let appearances detract them from worshipping Him. They came to worship, and they did. We can let appearances throw us off centre whether it be thread-bare carpet in the church sanctuary, an angry boss, an arguing teenage or any one of a thousand other things. Yet each one is an opportunity to worship - to react and live our lives in a way that is pleasing to Jesus.
In line with that, we must not let unfulfilled expectations detract us from worship. I am not sure what the wise men were expecting, but it probably wasn’t an ordinary looking, acting toddler. They had expected to find Him in a palace instead of a poor house in a small, dusty town. But the fact that what they had expected wasn’t what they found, did not stop them. They worshipped without reservation or disappointment. Life can throw us hard times. Sometimes we think or expect God to do things that He doesn’t. We can be disappointed. We can be disillusioned. But God is God and we are not. Even when we are disappointed or blind-sided by events, we can still look to Jesus in worship. Sometimes that is the only way through.
Worship involves submission and respect. These were wealthy, prestigious men yet they did not enter this humble home with pride or distain. They didn’t look down on Mary and Joseph because they were poor. They didn’t see any class distinctions [unlike the Pharisees]. This poor teenage girl dressed in home-made, well-worn clothes was the mother of the greatest King to ever be born. They treated her with respect. It is easy to treat people how we see them, instead of how God sees them. We will never truly worship Jesus if we have a disrespect for those around us.
These great men bowed with their faces to ground in front of a 1 year-old! If we would worship, we must come with humility. Pride destroys worship. We need to see the greatness of Jesus. When we do, we know we have nothing to be proud about.
The wise men brought treasures and laid them at the feet of Jesus. They were not expecting to get anything. They were not trying to vie for latter favours. They were giving because of Who Jesus was, not because they were hoping for future blessing or advantage. Jesus is worthy of all worship because of Who He is, not because of what He does. Even if He never saved us, He would be worthy of worship.
We cannot truly worship Jesus, if we cannot see Him through the eyes of faith. The wise men saw a toddler…but they saw so much more. Like the thief on the cross whose natural eyes saw a brutalized, convicted criminal slowly dying on a cross, but whose spiritual eyes somehow saw a reigning King with an eternal kingdom, we have to see past the outside. We have to see past the world’s mockery, the arguments of friends and even the painful circumstances of our own lives. If we are to enter worship, we must see Jesus through the eyes of faith - as He truly is.
Like the wise men, we should be on a journey to worship until it becomes the focal point of our lives whether in words or lifestyle. This doesn’t mean we neglect our duties in this world, but that our service and love for others ultimately is an expression of our worship of Jesus.