“When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house the saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him.” (Matthew 2:10–11)
The wise men should make us weep. They come to light in the gospel narrative with their knees bowed, faces to the ground in worship. We usually focus on the other elements of the story: we linger at the manger, listen to the angels’ chorus, and imagine the brilliance of the star. Rarely do we consider the stellar example set by these ancient men. If we do, we pack away this impression as if it were an ornament to be safely stowed in the attic until next year.
And yet, the magi show us what true wisdom is and how to approach our Lord each day, whether our current season is a flourishing evergreen tree or a naked-limbed one reaching desperately for the sky. The wise men demonstrate the only posture suitable in the presence of Christ. They model humility, reverence, awe. Far lesser thrills captivate us as we strive to improve our self-worth, oblivious to the beauty Jesus brings to the ordinary places of our lives.
The wise men traveled far to find the Christ. But he is close by us in written form, in rustling pages at our fingertips or a bright-screen format on the latest gadget in our hands. The magi searched relentlessly. Nothing could deter them from finding the truth. The slightest distraction crosses our minds, and we are up and away, in pursuit, leaving the real prize behind.
In the months to come, may we long for the wisdom and humility that was evident in these men’s lives and search for it with the all-consuming passion that radiated from these travelers from afar. May we willingly sacrifice and seek the Lord with a heart wholly devoted to the grand cause of finding him and worshipping him, awed and overwhelmed by the treasure he is. May we follow the magi’s footsteps, asking questions, moving ahead, making our way forward even though we do not fully comprehend where the journey might lead. And ultimately, may we too come to a place where we bow our lives before the Christ in adoration and love.
Elizabeth A. Mitchell