WISE MEN SEEK HIM
After the angels proclaimed to the shepherds, ‘good news of great joy which was for all the people,’ the shepherds gathered their robes and hurried to the babe. Later, the Magi braved deserts and mountains to find him, bringing gifts. While we do not know how many wise men there were, we do know they brought three gifts . . . highly significant and symbolic gifts.
Gold. Frankincense. Myrrh. ‘With the exception of gold, the three gifts the Wise Men brought to the baby Jesus probably aren’t high on most people’s Christmas lists. Neither frankincense or myrrh are valued in today’s western culture, but frankincense was a symbol of priestship, and myrrh was used as an embalming oil. (Okay, do you think the myrrh shook Mary and Joseph when it was presented to Jesus? ‘What a beautiful boy—here is some embalming oil for you to use when you wrap his lifeless body. . .’)
Though the gifts were presented to the baby born in the Bethlehem stable and not a king in a royal palace, the presents were highly valued and signified loyalty and reverence for a king.1
Wise men seek him yet today. Wisdom . . . the notion is tossed about in our society as though it is valued. . . but man’s wisdom is just foolishness to God. God invites us to ask him for wisdom, and he will give it to us.2 What does the wisdom God supplies look like?
It has several components:
>understanding - what is true, right, lasting
>discretion - the ability to decide responsibly
>prudence - wise in handling practical matters, exercising good judgment, common sense, careful about one's conduct
>discernment - keen insight
>knowledge - the body of wise teaching
>action - exercising discretion, prudence, discernment in choosing a course of action for ourselves – This one may surprise you to see with wisdom, but what good are any of the above qualities of wisdom, if once you see it, you fail to exercise it?
These are gifts an all-wise God gives to his children if they seek him for wisdom.
The Magi brought their gifts, and found him as a young child with Mary his mother. We find him today as the living Christ, clothed in glory and honor and seated at the right hand of his father in Heaven.3 He is there because he finished the work he came to do on earth. Of his coming the Bible says, ‘He was made in the likeness of men, and …He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even death on the cross. Wherefore God also has highly exalted him…that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord’! 4
Yes, wise men still seek him, but there is more—he seeks us. He seeks us out for relationship with him. That babe the wise men came to pay homage to beckoned from the cross that all would come. ‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all you heart.’5
That is good news of great joy!
1 Vanessa Willis, Wake Forest University professor, December, 2000
2 James 1.5
3 “Wise Men Still Seek Him” Clyde Dennis
4 Philippians 2.7-11
5 Jeremiah 29.13