The Magi, Teachers of Worship
Since today is Epiphany, a day that commemorates the wise men’s visit with Jesus, it’s a perfect time to reflect on what the Magi can teach us – especially about worship.
From the time they first show up on the scene, it’s obvious that the Magi are interested in worship. “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?” they ask King Herod, then they continue, “For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”
These men came to worship.
The word ‘homage’ here, is a word that literally meant to ‘prostrate oneself.’ These wise men had traveled 1,000 miles to bow down to a newborn baby.
How far are we willing to go in order to worship the King of Creation, not only as a babe but as the crucified and resurrected Lord of history?
1. Worship Makes Us Go
Matthew 2:1 describes these men as “wise men from the East” who “came to Jerusalem.” That’s about all the identification scripture gives us. So most of the things we ‘know’ about these men are conjecture. For instance, we have no idea how many there were. 3? Perhaps, but no one knows. Scripture is silent on their number and names.
For that matter, we aren’t even sure where they come from other than “the East.” Some believe they came from Persia. Others think it was the Arabian peninsula. Still others think they came from India or even China. Regardless of their exact point of origin, there can be no doubt that they were willing to travel a distance in order to worship. Whether it was 100 miles or 2,000, these men didn’t merely see the star and think worship might be a good idea.
They got up and went.
Just as it did for the Magi, true worship will compel us to go.
When we see God as he really is – in his love, righteousness, faithfulness, and holiness – our only reasonable response will be to worship. And that won’t mean that I just sing a song or say a quick ‘Hallelujah!’ My worship will compel me to get up and go.
I’ll GO to a gathering of Christian believers for fellowship and encouragement.
I’ll GO into the darkness so I can share the light and love of Christ.
Worship compels us to GO.
2. Worship Makes Us Give
After following the star from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, the Magi discovered the king they had been looking for. “On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).
There it is again. Homage. Worship.
The Magi not only went, they brought the very best they had to give to this newborn king. They weren’t regifting things they didn’t want anymore. Neither did they settle for a $15.00 Starbucks gift-card. They gave some of the finest, most valuable gifts possible. Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh were presents fit for a king.
Just as the Magi were compelled to give out of their worship, true worship will make us want to offer our most valuable thing to our King. And what is most valuable to us?
This is why the Apostle Paul wrote, “I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1).
When we see Christ as he is, we’ll want to give him our plans, our relationships, our careers, our money, our time – our all. We will want for him to have free reign over everything we say, think, and do. This is true worship.
I’ll GIVE him whatever he calls me to give him.
Worship compels us to GIVE.
3. Worship Helps Us Grow
When the Magi saw the star stop over the house where Jesus was, “they were overwhelmed with joy” (Matthew 2:10). Joy naturally grows out of true worship.
When we see God as he is – loving and faithful – and freely offer our lives to him, joy will naturally result. How can we not rejoice, knowing that God is sustaining us? Keeping Us? Drawing us close to him, even during dark times?
But it isn’t just joy that grows out of worship. Right worship brings about spiritual growth in general.
We can see this connection in the passage of Romans quoted above. After telling the Romans to present their bodies as living sacrifices, he goes on to say, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
Right worship transforms us by the renewing of our minds. As we offer our selves to God, he transforms us more and more into the image of his son, Jesus Christ. And that is the point of spiritual growth: Christlikeness.
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