Matthew 2:1-12 1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” 3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: 6 “‘But 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 be the shepherd of my people Israel.'” 7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Worship involves preparation.
The Wise Men said in verse 2, “We have come to worship Jesus.” Worship wasn’t an afterthought. It was something they had planned to do. It’s why they had come to Bethlehem. When they left home, wherever home was, and they set out on their long trip to get to where the star would indicate, before they left their country, before they made the trip, they made a plan to worship Jesus once they found Him. They not only intended to worship with their hearts and mouths, but their worship would include a presentation of some valuables, some treasures that they would bring with them. Can I ask you, “Do you just come to church or do you come to worship?” Is there a mere curiosity about the things or God or do you come prepared to offer God your worship because you know that He is God? The Wise Men were set on meeting Jesus, and they were also set on worshiping Him.
Worship advances Christ’s reputation.
The Wise Men had come from another country to worship Jesus. Matthew wants us to know that the first people to worship Jesus weren’t Jews. They were Gentiles. Jesus’ entry into the world would now be spread beyond the Jewish community and beyond the nation of Israel. This idea of Jesus being the God for all of the nations was important to Matthew. He started his writing by allowing us to see that Jesus was for all people, and he ended in chapter 28 by recording Jesus’ words about making disciples of all nations.
One prophecy that had been spoken about the coming Messiah was that nations and kings would come to Him. Look at this Messianic prophesy from Isaiah 60:3 “Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” The very fact that these Wise Men traveled from another nation to see Jesus gives added proof that He was the Messiah. He was not just the King of the Jews. He was and is the King for the Nations! Word would spread to eastern countries through the Wise Men as they returned home that the promised Messiah had been born.
Worship includes demonstration.
When the Wise Men reached Jesus, they bowed down and offered their gifts to Jesus. When you look at the primary Hebrew word for worship it literally means “to bow down.” There was more than respect being demonstrated when the Wise Men bowed. It was worship.
When you bow before someone what can’t you do? You can’t defend yourself, right? Not with your face to the ground, you can’t. You can’t ward off an attacker. When you bow before someone, you are literally saying, “My life is in YOUR hands. I am under YOUR protection. I depend upon YOUR power to keep me safe.”
I’m not suggesting we get rid of our sanctuary chairs and all go to worship on our knees, but I am telling you that our worship needs to demonstrate that we are willingly placing our lives in God’s hands because we trust His power and protection to guard and preserve our lives.
Worship provides direction.
Verse 12 of Matthew 2 tells us that the Wise Men were warned in a dream to go home by another route. I don’t know at what point one of the Wise Men had a dream or if they all had a dream, but if you follow the story chronologically, it would seem that they were warned after they worshiped. Worship connects us with God in a way that enables us to receive direction for our lives.
This Advent let’s come ready to worship. Let’s prepare ourselves to give of our best to the Lord. Let’s come with a desire to advance Jesus’ reputation, to spread the Good News about the Messiah’s birth to all people. Let’s not hold back in any way, but let’s demonstrate what is in our hearts as we worship Him in Spirit and in Truth, according to the way the Spirit is working in us, and let’s expect Him to give us wisdom and direction for our lives so that we can further share with others what He has done for us. O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!