Exceedingly Great Joy
Written by: Cathy Durrenberg
Click HERE to listen to today's devotion
And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary, his mother, and they
fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures,
they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
- Matthew 2:11 ESV
Are you amazed at the story of the Magi who followed a star to find Jesus? How they found Him lying in a manger and even the animals adored Him. Christmastime would not be the same without this scene and the arrival of the Wise Men. Yet interestingly, Matthew is considered to be a synoptic gospel, but Mark and Luke don’t share this story. Ever wonder why? Mankind has created inexact versions of the manger scene (i.e. Jesus was a child not an infant when they arrived), but the Bible is clear about how the Wise Men were led to Jesus by a star and they worshipped Him.
The Magi were known for their wisdom and they came from a country in the East where they had great power and authority. Following a star, their travels took them to Judea where King Herod was asked, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him" (Matthew 2:2). The star had led them this far and Herod does not know what to say, so he appeared interested, yet nervous about their inquiry. “King of the Jews”; wait, I’m the king. What are they saying?
After consulting his priests, Herod sent the Magi on their way to find Jesus. He instructed them to alert him of His whereabouts, but the Wise Men were “warned in a dream not to return to Herod, so they departed to their own country by another way” (Matthew 2:12). Later we read that Herod had all babies under the age of two killed because he felt threatened by baby Jesus.
It is believed that the Wise Men quite possibly were astrologers or experts in astronomy. It’s also possible that there were between two and twelve Wise Men even though there were three gifts mentioned. The term “King of the Jews” was a term that meant “Messiah” to the Gentiles, so we can believe that they recognized baby Jesus as Israel’s Savior. The star may have been an angel or a real star, but these men knew it was significant and that they must follow!
It is extremely important to understand the “exceedingly great joy” that the Magi felt when they came upon the Child. Their travel had taken many months and when they discovered Jesus they bowed down before Him and worshipped. In the Near East it was customary to present gifts when approaching a superior. These gifts were extraordinary and would have made Joseph and Mary a rich couple. It is thought that they used part of this to escape Herod’s decree to murder the babies.
Many customs and practices back then are not found in our Western culture. Kneeling and/or praying before a person of authority is found in some churches today but not all. The idea that the wisest and most powerful kings in the East would follow a star to bow down to a baby is ludicrous to some, but the Bible establishes from the beginning that Jesus would arrive and be King of all Kings! Let us remember that He alone is worthy of all adoration and praise!
1. Is Christmas a time where you are sometimes distracted by worldly perspectives or do you focus on the true celebration of His coming?
2. Do you see Jesus as a fragile baby lying in a manger or a mighty King who sits on the throne of glory? How big is your God?
Dear Lord, this Christmas season we desire to worship and bow down to You alone. Help us stay focused on the true meaning of Jesus’ birth and not get caught up in the world's view of Christmastime. We thank You for sending Jesus into the world to teach us how to live our lives, but also to save us from the lies Satan presents our culture. Let us bow down and adore and praise You to the fullest! In Jesus' name we pray, Amen!
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD? CLICK HERE