Dear Baptized and Redeemed,
Wise men traveled from afar, and were guided by a star, in search of a King. They very were wise in doing so. But what kind of wisdom do we find in our world today? There are many different kinds, even more so now than ever before. Scientists can now split the atom and unravel our genetic code (DNA). Nuclear Physicists can power a city of millions, for years, with less than a pound of material. NASA’s powerful equipment can probe the universe, exploring distant planets and stars (trillions of miles away). Einstein’s equations can explain the way the universe works in ways people had never imagined before. Stock brokers can make millions of dollars in only a few seconds.
But the wise men from the east sought after none of these things. How wise was it for them to leave everything behind, travel from afar, and be guided by a star, in search of a child? How wise was it for grown men to bow the knee to a seemingly powerless child? How wise was it for them to leave expensive gifts at His feet, expecting nothing in return?
The world doesn’t see wisdom like this very often - wisdom that runs deeper than just trying to get ahead of everyone else in the world. Wisdom that doesn’t glory in it’s own abilities. Wisdom that doesn’t show off. But rather, wisdom that looks to God alone for strength. Wisdom that looks to God’s Word for guidance.
It was divine wisdom that led a few educated men to leave everything behind, travel from afar, and be guided by a star, in search of a King.
Is Warren Buffet a wise man? If wisdom means great investments and billions of dollars, then he is very wise. Was King Herod a wise man? If wisdom means wordly, political power, then he was very wise. Was Amelia Earhart a wise woman? If wisdom means great courage and bravery, then she was very wise.
The wise men who visited Jesus, had all of these things and more: knowledge, wealth, power, courage. But none of these things is what made them wise. Scripture says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” It was the fact that they followed the Lord’s guidance.
What wisdom do we seek? What do we follow? We just began our journey into the unknown land of the new year. Every single new day is an unknown. We are just like the wise men, not really knowing what might happen on our journey. But we do have the guidance of our Heavenly Father. We have His Word. We have our Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We have His promise of forgiveness and eternal life. May that continue to be our guide.
There are other guides, the world, the devil, our sinful flesh, all egging us on to go the way of “Me, myself, and I”. It can seem so right to do what feels right at the moment, regardless of whether it agrees with Gods’ Word. Yet Christ says, “he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
What were the wise men looking for? They already had higher education, they already had great wealth. Yet they came looking for more. “Where is He that is born King of the Jews.”
Notice they didn’t say, “Where is He that might be born? Where is He that might be born in your land?” No, they said, “Where is He that IS born King of the Jews.” They were fully convinced that the Savior of the world was born.
They were looking for a king greater than their own, greater than King Herod, greater than King Caesar. They sought the King of all kings, Lord of all lords. Earthly kings can protect against earthly enemies, but they cannot protect against the spiritual enemies of sin and death, and our tendancy to constantly serve ourselves first and foremost.
The wise men were looking for a king who could do somehting about that. A King who would rule not with physical power, but by the forgiveness of sins, the hope of eternal life, by the resurrection from the grave. Scripture promised that King would come from Israel, but that He would also come for all people (and be the light of the Gentiles).
Was the journey worth it? The wise men must have wondered as they traveled mile after mile. But once they got to Bethlehem and saw Jesus, nothing else really mattered. And these wise men were used to being honored, perhaps even worshipped, for their own great wealth and education – but now they themselves were bowing the knee – and to a humble little child. He didn’t look like the Son of God. That’s faith. And “being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Scripture says “They rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” They were happy. They were grateful. Instead of condemning them for their sins, God sent His Son to save them from their sins. What King would do that? What kind of King would come to serve, not to be served? What kind of King would humble Himself in order to suffer for His people? What King would make “Himself of no reputation” take “upon Him the form of a servant, and” be “made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Only Jesus would do this for us all.
That is what guides and leads us. That is what gives us true peace and joy. That is what gives us hope now and forever. Christ, the Savior of the world, our King, is born.
What kind of wisdom does the world seek? Always trying to “get ahead” in the world, with financial, social, and worldy wisdom, may get us the status and wealth we desire, yet also leaves us empty without true rest and peace in God. The real wisdom of the wise men is revealed by what they followed and who they sought after. They followed the wisdom of God’s word and they sought after the Savior of the world. Even though Jesus may not look like much, He takes away the sin of the world and makes perfect peace between God and man. True wisdom is achieved by knowing Christ, by taking His promises to heart, and having the assurance that He is everything we need for salvation. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Wise men still seek Christ today. By God’s grace, we follow the light of His Word. We are guided by His rule of forgiveness and the assurance of everlasting life.
Just as God led the wise men with a star, so He guides us with the light of His holy Word. As we remember our Baptism, partake of Christ’s true body and blood, and follow the words of our eternal King, we are just as wise as the wise men. God says, “Ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart.” In Jesus’ name. Amen.