“Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!” After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.” Matthew 2:7-12
Did you ever see the movie, “The Right Stuff”? It was released in 1983. My oldest was a year old. Great movie no matter how old it is. It was an epic drama about NASA’s search for the first astronauts and the early years of America’s space program. Seven military pilots were selected to be astronauts for Project Mercury. The pilots go through a series of stringent tests. Each candidate is out to prove they have the “right stuff” to become America’s first astronauts. Thus the title, “The Right Stuff.”
Why do I bring up that movie? I ask myself those same questions when thoughts like that flow through my brain as I read about people in the bible. I guess that is what I see in these wise men from the east. They were made of “The Right Stuff.” They were adventurous enough to leave their country and travel thousands of miles through unknown territory just following a new star. Their hearts were open to worshiping a new king. They were humble enough to ask for directions. And they were wise enough to bring the right baby gifts. When they had to take a detour and ask for directions, they didn’t get distracted by the magnificence of the Jewish temple or the opulence of Herod’s palace. They didn’t find who they were looking for among all the bling and the glitter so they kept looking. They displayed endurance and perseverance. They left the palace, they left the high and mighty king behind, and when they did, the star shone brightly for them once again. “After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem.” I wonder, what happened to the star before their stop? Why now all of the sudden did it suddenly come back into their view? Maybe it was shining all along, and they just got distracted by the glory of the temple, with it’s white marble facade and golden capitals? Or maybe, God obscured the star to test the wisemen’s resolve to follow it no matter where it led? I don’t know the bible doesn’t say, but either way there is great spiritual truth to be learned by asking these questions.
Still, I keep seeing these wise men were made of “The Right Stuff.” The NIV translation says, “When they saw the star, they were OVERJOYED.” I love seeing that adjective about them. It is not just joy, or joyful, or filled with joy. THEIR JOY CUP WAS OVERFLOWING AND SLOSHING OUT! The thing that had guided them, the one thing that was leading them to the King of the Jews was back. Their GPS started working again. Do you know that feeling? Boy I do. I hate it when I hear my system say “rerouting” or “off-route” or “unmapped road.” Yeah I hear that a lot. I kinda like to Dora the Explorer my way around unknown cities. And boy does it make me joyful to hear “proceed on this highway.” As I have mentioned before, I view the star that guided them in the same manner as I view God’s Word as it guides me through this pilgrimage. If I will follow it, I will also find my King. My question I am asking myself, “Am I overjoyed to follow my atlas?” Overjoyed. Yeah I would call that a characteristic of having “The Right Stuff.”
“They entered the house and saw the child with his mother.” This is the King the star had led them to. He wasn’t surrounded by servants. He wasn’t being taught and trained in the art of war as most princes these men were accustomed to beholding. This new King was with his mother. He wasn’t in a setting they were use to acknowledging. He was in a home, a house, a normal dwelling place. This King did not look like the kings they were accustomed to meeting. This King would not need their advise. This King would not consult the stars for direction. This King would consult the One who created each star and hung it in place. No this King was not what they expected, but they did not let their expectations damper their worship. “When they saw the child with Mary, they bowed down and worshiped.” Worship the King no matter what. Yeah I call that “The Right Stuff.” Humble yourself on your knees by bowing down, bending on your knee. Yeah I call that “The Right Stuff.”
“They opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” They came prepared to give gifts befitting a king. Gold, frankincense and myrrh were standard gifts to honor a king or deity in ancient times. They offered tribute money to a King. They regarded Jesus as Royalty. In my mind they were the first gentile worshipers of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Their religion was pagan, but these pagan dignitaries did more than the scribes and Jewish scholars of the day did. They bowed down to worship. Their gifts were most likely a whole train of pack animals loaded with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gold is the gift to honor a king. Frankincense is the incense burned in religious ceremonies. And myrrh is the oil that is used to anoint a dead body before burial. Each of these gifts is just symbolic of the ministry Christ performed as he walked on earth. They brought “The Right Stuff” to the baby shower. I just went to my future grandson’s baby shower. I gave him an organic mattress his mommy had picked out for this precious child. I consider it “The Right Stuff.” However, it is nothing compared to the honor these wise men paid this King.
These wise men traveled over a 1000 miles to come and worship. They were made of “The Right Stuff.” They had hearts open to seeking The King of the Jews.
“Lord give me “The Right Stuff.” Put a seeking open heart in me. Take out this heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh that seeks You no matter what. Give me an adventurous spirit to follow You where ever You Lead.”