There’s a lot of beautiful mystery in the story of the magi.
I picture camel hooves sponging a desert floor, heavy treasures banging in woven luggage, faces and limbs wrapped from the sting of the sand.
We’re not told who these magi are or the stories that compelled them to follow a celestial sign, an ancient prophecy.
But in their story, I see a bit of yours.
I wonder what their communities said. These men saddled up, following a celestial phenomenon to a place unknown, or made costly (to the point of being weird) personal sacrifices for an unseen king.
Did one of them get sick? Did all of them grow tired? Perhaps they wondered about their own sanity and dragging other people with them.
I wonder if there was loss along the way.
I speculate about whether they doubted their interpretation of what they’d read in Scripture, coupled with the alignment of other signs. Would they get there and wish they’d never come?
In hindsight, moments stood out where they were wrong; deceived (say, by an egomaniac king).
Maybe there were moments, when it was all said and done, when they heard of the devastation following their visit and wondered if they could have acted differently, more…wisely.
(Did word of the infanticide ever reach them? Did they realize the ways they’d done things without knowing, and wonder if they’d made the right choice to go?)
I’m certainly not justifying infanticide or any other outcomes. Still, we see in the story of the magi a courageous faith, a persevering journey, so they and others could worship Christ as much as they were able.
So they could bring the finest gifts they could, for honor he deserved.
“We Have Come to Worship Him”
Packing up to head home, none of them was asking, “Was that really worth it?”
Here’s what we do know. The magi represented the first worship of the Gentiles, with great sacrifice and adoration.
Their obedience and perseverance in a curious journey meant people worshiped Christ as he should be. (Remember John Piper? “Missions exists because worship doesn’t.”)
That baby had a way of leaving an impression on people. I think of the shepherds, “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them” (Luke 2:20).
Because the path to worship this baby changed people. They came away feeling like the lucky dogs.
As you perhaps say some goodbyes this Christmas and wonder about a path and even a possible desert before you, may you take heart. Your act of worship is sacred, beautiful, and endlessly worth what it asks of you.
May Christ be lifted up in a distant land.
Lord, it is fitting to rejoice in your beauty and to gaze upon your handiwork. While others may call this a waste of time, we recognize that unless we sit in adoration of you, we will forget whom we serve and for what purpose. Remind us why worship is always our first response to you. Amen.
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