“In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem, asking, “where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star in the east and have come to pay him homage.” (Matthew 2:1-2)
The wise men are a curious part of the Gospel story, aren’t they? We don’t know much about them. Did they know each other before their journey, or did they meet along the road? How expensive and how long was this little “road trip” of theirs? Did they leave families, jobs, and homes behind…would all that be waiting when they come home?
Travel has so many logistics to consider. As much as I enjoy getting out of town, I always want to make sure it’s “worth it.” Do I want to drive to Seattle for the weekend? No. I have no interest in being exhausted all next week when I only got a few hours to play. You want to go to Seattle for a week? I’m in!
The idea of seeing something so beautiful that you are compelled to upend your life and go who knows where for who knows how long is a bit unnerving. If it had only been one, we could have written him off as crazy or eccentric (as the wise can be). Yet three people saw and left to search for Jesus. Did they even understand what they were searching for? They ask for “the King of the Jews.” The story indicates that they were probably expecting a palace, political power and maybe a rich meal at the end of their journey. Probably not the incarnate God.
Maybe it doesn’t matter that they didn’t have it all figured out. Perhaps it’s more about being willing to be surprised by God. Sometimes faith is found in the journey. Journey’s never go exactly how we plan. Often, you have to leave a lot behind. Maybe you meet new friends along the way. Sometimes you might end up in Bethlehem rather than Jerusalem. You might have to take a detour before going home. Yet the witness of the Magi (and Abraham and Sarah or the disciples, or countless others throughout scripture) is that God can be found on the journey.
As we journey into the year set before us, maybe ask yourself some questions:
- Where do I see beauty that I feel compelled to pursue (what’s my “star)?
- What needs to be left behind so that I am free to journey towards Jesus?
- Who am I being called to journey with?
- Where have I been surprised by God along the way?
Let us pray...
Grant me the courage to journey towards you.
Surprise me with provision
And with your presence.
Open my eyes to the beautiful parts,
To the joyous parts
And to your leading in the painful parts.
Through it all, reveal to me your faithfulness…and mine.