In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." (Matthew 2:1-2)
We hear about these wise men only in Matthew’s Gospel. The Christian Church celebrates the conclusion of their journey to find Jesus the Savior on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6th every year. These two verses tell us nothing about these wise men except that they came from the East. Anything else we “know” is only from traditions passed down through the centuries. These wise men are wise indeed because they teach us about persistent faith. Faith to search for the Savior and not stop until he has been found.
All these wise men had was a star. Their compass was the starlit heavens that had been studied for centuries waiting for a sign the Savior had been born. Traveling only at night so the star could guide them but also when bandits could attempt to rob and kill them as they traveled. Wise men wearing distinctive clothes and carrying much food and wealth made them easy targets but yet their mission to find the Savior was more important and worth the risk.
What are we willing to risk to become closer to our Savior? What will compel us to risk our relationships with family, friends and community because we put Jesus before anything else in this world? Can we search, find, acknowledge Jesus the Savior and worship him and not the materialistic world in which we live? Can we become like the wise men and look for the signs of the Savior and follow until the journey’s end?
What are some of the signs? Baptism-being washed clean in water combined with the word and command of Jesus so we can be refreshed and renewed in our called to discipleship. The Lord’s Supper-to remind us once again of Jesus death on the cross for the salvation of the world. Time when we hold the body of Jesus on our hands and personally commune with him in thanksgiving for that most holy death which saved us from eternal separation from God because of those sins Jesus took to the cross for us. Confession-our opportunity to ask for forgiveness for the time we have fallen short and trust in God’s grace that we can receive that forgiveness because of the promise God made to send a Savior into the world. A promise kept out of love for the creation he formed so long ago.
What about the signs in the created world. The seasons that come and go in their cycles which we as mere mortals have no control over. The weather that comes and goes as God wills and for which we need to be grateful when it fills our reservoirs, waters our crops, or shines bright for full growth in the fields. All not under our control but the hand of God who provides for our every need and expects us to provide for the needs of others.
When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 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 2:10-11 NRS)
These wise men were awestruck and joyful at finding Jesus the Savior. Are we in awe anymore or do we just take for granted the grace filled gift of God of Jesus who was born with the specific purpose of dying for our sins? In losing the awe have lost the realization of the grace bestowed on us?
I can just imagine the wise men returning to their homes and sharing the wonderful news that salvation for the people was at hand. Maybe it is time we became awestruck again and then maybe, just maybe we can preserve in our faith in a world that is truly bent on trying to have us worship the gods of materialism as if they would ever be able to save us from our sins when Jesus has done that for us already. We need to offer our version of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Let it be our hearts, our repentance and our trust in his love and forgiveness. Our greatest treasure is our faith in Jesus.
Be persistent in your faith,