Where Shall We Find Him? (January 6, 2019)
Where Shall We Find Him?
I think many of you know that I’m a car enthusiast. And for those of you who don’t, “Hi, I’m Benj, and I’m a car enthusiast.” Yes, I’m the who buys the car not just for gas mileage and creature comforts, but for looks, road manners, speed and power. I’m the guy who actually reads through the owner’s manual of any car I buy, and not just to figure out how to set the presets on the radio. I love watching shows about cars and reading reviews about cars I am interested it. In fact, I recently watched a video simply describing the innovative functions of the new Audi A7’s headlights. They’ve got everything from dynamic blinkers, to an LED matrix that uses cameras to dim only the portion of the beam where there is an oncoming car. It’s all really interesting to me, and I love learning about that stuff!
I know it’s something different for all of us. Just as I know car details that might bore some, I know some of you know football statistics that I don’t find all that interesting. Others of you know the names of all the different ways you can sew a seam, and still others could whip up a recipe with ingredients like bay leaves or balsamic vinegar. We all have our interests – those things we like digging into all the minute details and fun facts of.
You also all know that I’m a pastor. That’s why I’m up here. As a pastor, I get to spend a good portion of my time digging into the minute details and brilliant applications of God’s Word. I’ve plumbed the depths of certain books of the Bible and traced the lives of individuals throughout the Bible. And I’ll tell you, that even with all the studying and digging I’ve done, there’s still so much more I could uncover. There are still many marvelous truths that God is waiting to reveal to me. Of course, this study of God’s Word is not reserved only for pastors. God’s Word is meant for all Christians. God reveals his wonders to all people. So, whether you are 4 years old, looking at the pictures as mommy and daddy read to you from your children’s Bible, or if you are 80 years old gleaning as you read from the notes you’ve scribbled in the margins over the years, there is always something more to learn – always some deeper truth waiting to be revealed.
And sometimes God uses miracles to invite us to plumb the depths of his Word. One such miracle was a special star that God sent for a very specific audience – the Magi. The Magi were likely royal advisors from Babylon. They were perhaps astronomers who studied the stars and plotted the courses of the planets. But what is truly amazing is that they knew at least the very basics of the promise of the Messiah. This was perhaps a remnant of the gospel passed down over hundreds of years from the time of Daniel. However they knew, they immediately made the connection between this special star and the one to be born “the king of the Jews” (Mt 2:2). However God made the star, it served its purpose of leading the Magi to the Child born in Bethlehem. And in so doing, God also demonstrated his power over the laws nature that he established long ago.
However, God doesn’t always use miracles to lead us to him. In fact, nature, even when it is simply going along with the laws that God established declares the glory and wisdom of God. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth” (Ps 19:1-4). So, all the wonders and order of creation point to a God who is mighty in power and loving in action. Yet here, on this night, God broke the refrain of nature’s declaration to ring out a special chorus that a new King is born! He is Christ, the Lord.
The problem with nature’s declarations is that, although heavens and earth ring out loud and clear that there is a God, it’s hard to tell the details from nature. You could dig into the earth. You could study the order of nature. You could plot the courses of the heavens and marvel at the One who made them all, but none of these will tell you the details. None of them tell you just who the Savior is. That’s one of the reasons the Magi traveled so far to see this newborn king. They knew of him, but they wanted to learn about him. For this reason, God, in his wisdom, also had them make a pitstop in Jerusalem to learn a little more before they saw the Child himself. It seems that God made the special star disappear right as they were getting so close. He did this so that they would be forced to investigate. And by God’s plan, their investigation led them straight to the “owner’s manual” – to the pages of Scripture.
It’s surprising to see that although the Jews must have known about the Messiah – even Herod probably did, despite not being Jewish – it’s surprising that they all missed it. They weren’t watching and waiting for the Messiah to come and they missed him. Although they might want to blame it on not having all the information, they knew that wasn’t true. The same goes for you and me, who may be happily ignorant about some of the details of our Savior and our salvation. In Bible class we learned that all these symbols on the Chrismon trees have to do with Christ and tell us something about Christ. But what does a fish have to do with Jesus? Hear the Scriptures proclaim that just as Jonah was in the belly of a huge fish for three days, so the Son of Man will be three days in the heart of the earth (Mt 12:40). That detail certainly would have relieved a lot of anxiety from the hearts of despairing disciples after Jesus died and was buried. Or – it’s up on the trees, but I’ll show you right here – what does this “A” and “horseshoe” mean? The Bible tells us that Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. But what does that mean for me? Dig into the Scriptures and you will see that even though Jesus was born, he has always been since the beginning. And even though Jesus died, he would be raised to life never to die again. More personally, the Bible also says that Jesus “who began a good work in you” – that is the work of faith – “will carry it on to completion” – that is on the Last Day when you will enjoy your salvation not only in part, but in the fullness of all God’s glory! What else is there that you have had questions on, or been a little unsure of all the details? All of Scripture is in your hands to delve into. In Scripture God reveals himself and his plan of saving you in such great detail!
And now we have the Magi, and king Herod, knowing exactly where to go for more details. “He called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, and asked them were the Messiah was to be born” (Mt 2:4).He knew that the ones who knew the details of the Old Testament Scriptures, who read it, copied it, and taught from it regularly would certainly know the details. As Scripture itself says, those who know the Holy Scriptures even from infancy are “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 3:15). It’s easy to see who the wise ones really were. Although the chief priests and teachers of the law had the details, “You, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel” (Mt 2:6), they did not have the sense to act on those details. It was the Magi who were truly wise and continued their trek of hundreds of miles just the last 7 from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. Herod could have gone – if he truly wanted to worship him. The chief priests and teachers of the law could have easily made the trip, if they truly cared. But they didn’t. They just read a prophecy about the Messiah to tell the magi where to go. Isn’t this the Messiah they’ve been waiting for and hoping for? Why didn’t they go?!
How often have we been like the chief priests and teachers of the law? Having full access to all the details, cherishing them as very important to us, yet don’t allow this head knowledge and faith of the heart to spur us into action? How often do we allow excuses and laziness to prevent us from making the trek to sit at Jesus feet here with fellow believers or from opening the Scriptures even in our own homes? The Magi traveled hundreds of miles thirsting for their Savior. Yet we who have easy access to springs of living water, may rarely make it to the bookshelf in our own homes to fill up on the wisdom of salvation.
It all came together for these believers from a distant land. God once again demonstrated his authority over nature and caused the special star to reappear and go on ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was (Mt 2:9). They also had the details of Scripture leading them to “Bethlehem, in the land of Judah” (Mt 2:6). When they finally arrived at the house and saw the Child with his mother Mary what they knew in their heads and believed in their hearts spurred their hands and feet to action. “they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh” (Mt 2:11). Standing was out of the question. The Holy Spirit convinced these men of just whom this child was. In their country they would drop to their knees and touch their foreheads to the ground to show how humble they felt and how much greater than them was the One they were honoring. So, on their knees and bowed down low they showed reverence to the newborn King, their Savior.
The Lord knows our weakness. He knows that we are often weak in the flesh what our believing hearts so long to do. On our own we cannot find the Savior or the answers for life’s questions no matter how wise we may be. For us too, the Lord may sometimes increase our eagerness to find our Savior and worship him by “removing the star,” so to speak. So, as the magi were forced to seek help, God saw to it that they were driven to his Word. Help came from his Word.
Sometimes the lack of action on our part is because we do not fully understand our need until God reveals it to us. So, in our lives, he may “remove the star,” forcing us to seek help. And believers, moved by the Holy Spirit, know exactly where to find help. “Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Ps 124:8). Help comes from God. Help comes from his Word. Into the Scriptures believers go, seeking Him with all the passion and dedication that led the Magi over miles of unforgiving terrain. Into the Scriptures believers go to find the help they need in all the stunning detail that God provides! Into the Scriptures believers go to see that God lovingly fills the need that he perhaps created to drive us to him. Into the Scriptures wise believers go to bow down and worship the King.