Hope Was Born

By Marcy Barthelette

By now, most of the trappings of Christmas are just a memory. We’re back at work or school, doing household chores and carpool duties, games, and extracurricular activities. It’s strange how we tend to overlook a very important aspect of the story we so recently re-enacted. At the time of Jesus’ birth, Wise Men, Magi, traveled far from their homes and at great peril to their lives. They had only a star and their knowledge of the heavens to guide them, yet they set out on a journey to find a child who had been prophesied as the King of the Jews.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” Matthew 2:1-2

Who were these men really? So little is explained about their background. They must have been scholars of their time because they knew about the stars that populate the heavens. They had studied predictions concerning the birth of Jesus so they were literate. In fact, they were a class of priests who appear to have existed during Daniel’s lifetime as references in the book of Daniel point to his having served as head of the Magi in the time of King Nebuchadnezzar. They served as political advisors, professors, and philosophers in the fields of medicine, history, religion, and astronomy. In other words, they were very well-educated men.

What then, inspired them to leave their comfortable positions to wander the desert following a star for the better part of two years? Their status surely allowed for more comforts on the road than ordinary folks like Mary and Joseph enjoyed, but still, the desert is hot by day, often quite cool by night, and water is not always readily available for drinking or bathing. So imagine yourself in long, heavy robes and only sandals on your feet, keeping company with camels, and searching for a child you’ve only read about. These guys were very committed to their quest. They truly longed to see the child, Jesus, who was said to have come from God in heaven to save the world.

We learned last week that they were way-laid by King Herod, who also searched for the child but for very different reasons. All these characters played roles in a drama orchestrated by God from the beginning of time. God knew that man would need to be saved from himself and the plan seriously rolled into action on the night Jesus was born. The Wise Men, or Magi, along with the shepherds, represent seekers. They all wanted to see the baby and were willing to travel where He was to meet Him.

You’ve surely heard it said, “wise men still seek him.” The Magi set the example for the “seekers” of today, an example of perseverance, devotion, awe, of worship.

Christ never turns away from any heart that is open to him. Those who seek him will find him every time.

Ray Pritchard, Faces Around the Manger

And today, as over the ages, He meets us wherever we are. He hopes we will invite Him into our hearts, however, broken or fouled they may be. He doesn’t ask us to be perfect or clean. He asks us to seek Him and invite Him in. It’s that simple. Are you ready?

The manger invites, even dares us to believe the best is yet to come. And it could all begin today.

But if it doesn’t, there is a reason. No day is accidental or incidental. No acts are random or wasted.

 Look at the Bethlehem birth. A king ordered a census. Joseph was forced to travel. Mary, round

as a ladybug, bounced on a donkey’s back. The hotel was full. The hour was late.

The event was one big hassle. Yet, out of the hassle, hope was born.

Max Lucado, Because of Bethlehem

And those who sought Him found the greatest gift of all! We can find it too!   


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