Can you imagine what it would have been like to be one of the first people to see Jesus? The Messiah was long awaited and desperately needed, just the news of his soon arrival made Elizabeth’s baby leap for joy and caused the mute Zechariah to speak again. In the story of Jesus’ birth, the Magi are some of the first men on the scene of the Savior’s birth. Their reaction was one of the most pure expressions of worship the Bible gives. Here’s what I notice about their worship.
A) It was joyful. Matt. 2:10 “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.” I love this. . .wise, educated, respected men rejoicing exceedingly and with great joy. Knowledge of Jesus should always lead to fervent worship.
B) It was humble. Matt. 2:11 “And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him.” Worship often times involves both joy and humility, rejoicing and bowing. This is because God is both transcendent (beyond us) and immanent (close to us). His grandeur inspires awe and wonder, while his nearness brings peace and joy. We see this also in Psalm 2:11 which says “Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.”
B) It always centers on Jesus. This one is pretty simple. Matthew says “they worship him.” They didn’t worship the mystery of the moment, they didn’t worship Mary or Joseph, they worshiped Jesus, God in flesh.
C) It includes giving. Matt. 2:11 “Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” Worship always includes self-sacrifice. The Magi brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But they also gave time, energy, and devotion to Christ as they worshiped.
We see these same truths about worship throughout scripture, and hopefully they make their way into our personal lives and our churches each week. Often times, however, the latter isn’t always true. In fact, if we’re not careful, our personal worship and corporate worship will revolve around the exact opposite of these. Instead of our worship being joyful and humble it will be greedy and judgmental. Instead of focusing on Jesus, our worship will focus on our personal preferences. And instead of coming to give in worship, we’ll come as consumers, ready to take in what’s been prepared for us.
I’m in no way pointing a finger or trying to be pessimistic, I simply want to point out how quickly we can get away from worshiping Jesus and focus on ourselves. The beauty of this Advent season is found in its invitation for each of us to re-live the story of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. The magi teach us a great lesson in worship, pointing us back to Jesus, personal sacrifice, and humility.