When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:10-11
I was obsessed with the Indianapolis 500 race as a kid growing up in Indiana. I wanted to go to the race in the worst way, but my family did not have the means to purchase tickets. So you can imagine how thrilled I was when a friend gave me a ticket to the race when I was in high school. The race had been stopped due to rain after a few laps and postponed to the next day. So I was able to see my first Indy 500, though it wasn’t with the excitement that comes with the initial start of the race.
It wasn’t until I was at Bethesda Naval Hospital as an OBGYN resident that I finally was able to purchase my own tickets. I had been on a waiting list for more than 10 years when I received a letter from the Indy 500 ticket office giving me the option to purchase two tickets. Without a second thought I bought the tickets and made the trip from Bethesda, Maryland to Indianapolis. To my great disappointment, the race was rained out for two days and then rescheduled to the next weekend. And so I drove home to Maryland only to rearrange my schedule so I would be able to go back to Indianapolis. And so I drove back to Indianapolis for the second consecutive weekend and witnessed my first race in person from beginning to end.
You might say I worshipped the Indy 500. But my travels to Indianapolis over the years are nothing compared to the obsession the wise men in the Christmas story had to see and worship Jesus. They had studied the signs of His coming for years. They knew the approximate time Jesus would arrive based on Daniel’s prophecy in chapter 9. But just like I had to wait for a letter from the Indy 500 ticket office to know when to go to Indianapolis, the wise men relied on a personal message from God to make the trip to Bethlehem. Their message was in the form of a star that they diligently followed. And just like I wanted to see the beginning of the race, the wise men wanted to see the beginning of the story of salvation. I can only imagine their excitement and anticipation as they made that road trip. It was perhaps the most exciting road trip filled with promise in the history of road trips.
The picture of three wise men who had traveled for miles enduring poor weather, unknown trials, and the enormous personal expense just to see the baby Jesus is one that models what worship is all about. Matthew tells us that they immediately bowed down to Jesus when they came into His presence giving Him gifts arising from love and adoration.
When I think about this picture of worship, I am called into account about how I worship Jesus today. They went to see Jesus when He was a baby. He could not do anything for them. They were not asking anything of Him. They were not seeking blessing or personal gain. In fact, they had already given Him years of their life in study and anticipation of giving Him the gifts of their toil. They had worshipped Him for years before He was even born because they had faith in His love and power to save this planet from self-destruction. Their worship was grounded in love and total submission to Him, not in expectation of receiving anything more than they had already received. They were not concerned about the time it took to travel, or the perils they faced along the way. Everything paled in comparison to being in the presence of Jesus. They simply wanted to witness the power of heaven embodied in human form as a baby. And on their return home, they would avoid King Herod who would have given them gifts and temporal honor in order to protect the One they loved above all else.
Jesus came from the splendor of heaven to lay in a dirty, smelly manger so that we could have life, and have it abundantly. How far will you go to worship Jesus today? Will you rearrange your schedule to make time for Him? Will you give Him your best gifts? Do you love Him unconditionally as He loves you?