Experience Christmas is a 19-day devotional series based on the Scriptural narrative and aimed at creating space during a beautiful, but hectic time of year to wonder at the miracle of Christmas. You’re joining us on day sixteen, with music from Carrie Underwood and a devotional full of hope for the truth seeker.
Last week in Luke 2:21-38, we witnessed the interaction between Mary, Joseph, Simeon and Anna at the Temple, potentially leading to Mary’s first glimpse of life for them beyond the manger. While Luke 2:39-40 describes Jesus going straight from the temple to Nazareth, it is more likely Mary and Joseph travel with him back to Bethlehem, where the chronology of our story is picked up at the beginning of Matthew chapter two.
It is here that we are introduced to the Magi, a group of wise, learned men who have spent time studying Scripture and watching the skies for signs of the promised King to be born to Israel. Tradition has inserted all kinds of theories about these travelers, but Scripture gives little detail of their journey, and even less about the company of travelers that arrived in Jerusalem from the East that day.
What we do know for certain about this group of truth seekers is that they are hungry for an encounter with Messiah.
Picture opulent figures with flowing robes and exquisite fabrics riding into the city. Without an air of indifference or importance, one dismounts and excitedly asks the nearest local where he and his party can find the new king.
Blank stare. I’m sorry. Do you mean Herod?
The wise man shakes his head. This fellow must be confused, or oddly unaware. He approaches another person, and another, and another, and it seems no one knows about the birth of this new King. More Magi dismount to tether their animals and begin questioning the people.
Matthew 2:2 NLT
Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.
The city is shockingly clueless, but the idea of a new king is something they can get behind. When the question of the Magi finally reach Herod’s palace he is terrified what the answer may mean for his reign. In a panic he reacts, quickly bringing the priests and teachers of religious law together to discern from the Scriptures what is going on.
Where is the Messiah supposed to be born? Herod thunders.
Bethlehem, they tell him. The Messiah is supposed to be born in Bethlehem.
Herod breathes, drumming his fingers together, as a plan begins to form in his mind. He invites the Magi in for a private meeting, confidently entertaining their questions, and sends them onward to Bethlehem with the instructions to bring news of this new child back to him.
So that I too can go and worship him.
It matters why we come to the manger.
People are motivated to search after God for all kinds of different reasons, and I think at times, these reasons are what affect our encounter with Him.
We see this so plainly played out in today’s portion of the Christmas narrative. As Matthew continues, we find that the truth-seeking Magi did in fact find Jesus in Bethlehem and worshiped Him as they desired. Herod, motivated by fear, his lust for power, and the tyranny of his own will, did not.
God always reveals Himself to truth-seekers.
Revelation 3:20 NIV
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. (Emphasis mine)
In Psalms 139 it says that God knows us inside and out. He knows when we sit and when we rise, when we come and when we go. He knows us in the fullest way we can possibly be known.
For this reason we can hold tight to the most impossible hope. When we are honestly and actively seeking the truth of who He is, there is no other logical end to our story, than to find Him.
- What is motivating your search for the Christ child this Christmas?
- What do you hope to encounter at the manger?
- How is your faith journey impacted by the knowledge that God reveals Himself to truth-seekers?
Pray that God would guide your search for Jesus this Christmas, and that He would open your heart to the revelation of His truth.
God thank you that you never turn away an honest truth-seeker. Thank you that you guide the steps of our spiritual journey to the place that we can find you and experience the joy and peace that comes from living life with you. Be with my friends who are searching for you right now. Lead them, guide them, and help them to find what they are looking for in you.
For a complete list of devotional posts visit the Experience Christmas series page. Sign up to receive posts directly via email by completing the online subscription form and join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter by using the hashtag #ExperienceChristmasDevotional.