“Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are no least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.'” 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.” Matthew 2:1-11
Apparently, at this point, the star they had been following just led them to a general vicinity, the Judean hillside of Israel. Bethlehem and Jerusalem are located in this area. Bethlehem is just six short miles from Jerusalem. The wise men stopped short. They went looking for the King of the Jews in the capital city of Israel – Jerusalem. If you think about it, that makes sense. Jerusalem was a thriving metropolis. Bethlehem was a tiny village; home to perhaps 200 permanent residents. Bethlehem in that day was a place you stayed on your way to the big city. These wise men weren’t so wise at this point. They bypassed the birthplace of a king because they assumed he would be found in the capital city. What seemed to be an obvious place to start was actually not so obvious. They carried with them their own assumptions of where a king ought to be. Bethlehem was so close. Just six miles away, but they began their search in the wrong city.
How many ways past Sunday does that assumption speak to me? How many spiritual lessons does their wrong assumption teach me? How many times have I missed an encounter with Jesus because he was working where I assumed He wouldn’t work? Jesus was alive and active and at work in places I would never think to look! Isn’t that how He lived out His days as He taught and ministered those three years He walked this planet. He ate and banqueted with the sinners and scoundrels. He did not come for the self-righteous Pharisees and Sadducces. He ate with the tax collectors and the despised. He healed the demon possessed and the lepers. He went to those religious society had cast out. And He was born not in the capital city of Israel but in the tiny village just six south of Jerusalem. These wise men were astrologers from the east. They were not of Jewish descent. Their religion was steeped in eastern mysticism and astrology. They made their decisions and advised kings based on the alignment of Virgo, Leo, The Age of Aquarius, and all the others. They worshiped according to the Zodiac and not because of the Bright and Morning Star. They knew there was a new star shining above. They knew it meant the King of the Jews had been born, but they were missing some data. They didn’t have the Torah to guide them. They only had stories they were told; they did not have the writings of the Law and Prophets. They needed someone to fill in the gaps. Again, how many times have I missed having an encounter with Jesus because I had gaps in my knowledge of who He really was? I had depended on stories and faith of others, and choosing not to go deeper in my relationship with Him through my own study and knowledge of Him.
These wise men stopped short of finding their king right away because they made a wrong assumption based on their lack of all the data. King Herod and the scribes and Pharisees had all the data; they knew where the King of Jews would be born. He would be born just 6 short miles from where they stood. But yet… But yet they did not go. Herod sent the wise men on. Really? What’s up with that? A King had been born to them. I get Herod. He was jealous, but why didn’t these Jewish scholars go? They knew the answer right away. They didn’t even have to consult their parchments. They knew the Law and Prophets by heart. They had the words of Isaiah and Micah memorized. When they learned of the star, how come they didn’t pack up and go with these astrologers? There were two differing heart conditions here. Though these wise men had made wrong assumptions and didn’t know the Torah, they still had come on this quest so that they could worship this new King. “We saw His star as it rose, and we have come to worship Him.” When the scribes and Pharisees along with Herod heard of the star they were deeply troubled. Uh Oh, someone new was about to upset the apple cart. Someone was going to shake the status quo. They didn’t go to worship the King because they were spiritually indifferent and too puffed up with themselves. They were culturally arrogant and lazy. Just six short miles that they could have walked in a day, but they chose not too. Herod chose instead to send wise men from a different religion to go and check it out.
How many times have I chose not to go on my own spiritual quest, seeking a deeper relationship with Jesus, because I was spiritually indifferent? The instantaneous gratification of watching my TV shows or checking Facebook or surfing the internet quiet an immediate need and keep me occupied so I won’t go on a time consuming voyage into a deeper relationship with my Savior. Shorter term for all that would be laziness. Even writing this post – I have been putting off sitting down at the computer because I knew once I started writing on this subject I would be stepping on my own toes. I have skipped having my morning quiet times over the past couple of days and boy have I been irritable.
My spiritual lesson # 1,000,000 and 1
Six short miles. Don’t stop short. The hike is worth it! Quit being lazy. Quit living off of other’s faith. Underneath the Star you will find your King.