by Gina, Steppes of Faith
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.’ When Herod heard this, he was troubled and all of Jerusalem with him…When they [Magi] had heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them till it came and stood over where the young Child was…Then being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.” Matthew 2: 2-3, 9. 12.
Christmas always reminds us of God’s goodness and love, and it invites us to come closer to Him. The Magi must have felt a similar calling because it made them travel thousands of miles in search of the Christ Child. And once they found Him, they knew they would never be the same again. Seeking the Lord’s presence is a lesson for all of us.
The book of Matthew is the only book in the Bible that tells us anything about these wise men. Whether they were actually wise or even kings is unknown, but we do know that they were Magi, short for magician or sometimes astrologer. They were from a foreign country, possibly Persia/modern-day Iraq, which means not only did they come from very far away but they were also Gentiles, not Jews. It’s amazing to think that one of the first people, aside from a few poor and dirty shepherds, to meet Jesus were not Jewish, isn’t it?
Yet, these Gentiles were the only ones who were paying attention to the signs of heaven as they had been prophesized by Isaiah (see Isaiah 40:3). They had been studying year after year, and they had full knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures dating back to the time of Daniel. In short, they had been watching and waiting for a very long time. So when they saw the bright star in the sky, they knew the time had come. They loaded up their camels and headed to Israel.
The Presence of Jesus Changes You
I can only imagine what it must have been like for the Magi to finally find Mary and Joseph and see the promised Messiah with their own eyes. What joy it must have been to see God’s word fulfilled in flesh and blood. Their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, all completely fitting for a king, must have pleased the Lord very much.
But notice in Matthew 2:12 that when it was time to go, the Magi did not go back the same way they had arrived. In a practical sense, they couldn’t or else King Herod might kill them. But in a spiritual sense, perhaps they didn’t want to anyway. They had just spent an evening with Jesus and His family, in the very presence of God, worshipping, fellowshipping, and experiencing the His glory first-hand, in person. It was as close to heaven they would get without dying first. That evening had to be incredibly life-changing for them, don’t you think? Wouldn’t it be for you?
For anyone who has experienced the love of God, they can tell you that being in the presence of Jesus completely changes you. There’s nothing else on earth like it. When you are with the Lord, there is freedom, peace, and joy that you never knew existed. It’s what makes us finally decide that the way we were doing things was way off-course and we surrender our hearts to God knowing that His way is better. This promise of salvation is summed up in John 3:16 that teaches us,
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” NKJV
When we let that love penetrate our hearts, when we truly experience an intimate connection with God, we can begin to understand what it means to be a new creation in Christ. The old you is gone. You become a new and better version of yourself all because you came into the Lord’s presence. And then you lean back in your seat and realize you can’t go back home the same way you came. Everything is different now…and it’s wonderful.
I believe that this must have been true for the Magi too. Perhaps they knew who Jesus really was before they got to the stable. Maybe they knew Him in an academic or political sense, or even in a religious sense because of the prophecy. But I would bet that whatever they thought they knew all went by the wayside once they stood the Lord’s presence.
In His Presence There is Love
God’s love envelopes you, surrounds you, penetrates you. His grace is consuming and you hunger more and more for His touch. And as your faith grows, your relationship with Him grows deeper and more intimate. You begin to feel Him living and moving around in your heart just at the mention of His name- Jesus. It stirs you, excites you, and gives you peace all at the same time. There is power in His name. There is joy, hope, and love in His presence.
Whatever the Magi were expecting when they arrived at the stable must have changed in the instant they stepped inside and stood in the very physical presence of God. I can only imagine it was the equivalent of being frozen to the bone in the deepest part of winter. Then you walk into the home of someone dear to you and that person sits you in front of a warm, cozy fire, wraps you in a thick blanket, hands you some hot cocoa with those tiny marshmallows, and hugs you until you feel all better. In the same way, Jesus welcomes us and makes us feel warm and loved.
We can’t physically stand in the same room with Jesus today, but we can still be in His presence just by calling out to Him, surrendering our hearts and pride, and letting Him into our lives by accepting His gift of grace, love, and forgiveness.
This Christmas, whatever you think you know about Jesus or the Christmas story, I invite you to come and experience Jesus first-hand and see how wonderful He truly is. Come and feel His amazing love for you. A love so strong He willingly endured torture and death on a cross to free you from sin and save you from the eternal pit of Hell. Come and let Him put His mighty arms around you. Feel His strength and protection over you. Let His comfort and healing bring you relief in your circumstances.
It’s so amazing when you experience Jesus. I promise you, when you do, you will completely understand what it meant for the Magi to go home a different way. Because you won’t either.
Up until now, what were your thoughts about the Magi and the Christmas story? It’s amazing to think that God can change us forever, that in His presence there is unimaginable love. Have you experienced Jesus yet? Have you met Him? Share your testimony here so we can all rejoice with this Christmas. It’s truly the greatest gift of all.
Merry Christmas! May the Lord bless you and your family always.