At The Crossroads of Life; In Search of….
We are all in search of something. Every day I usually have to search for something such as my keys, my phone, my pen, and, sometimes, it seems my search is never ending causing me to become the butt of my families jokes, but I can usually take it.
The second chapter of Matthew’s Gospel tells us the birth of Jesus took place in the time of King Herod’s reign. That is important and you will see why in a few minutes. If we go back to the first chapter of Matthew, we recall that it is all about the history of Israel coming to a head in the birth of Jesus; from Abraham to David to Jesus. David is regarded as, perhaps, Israel’s greatest king. He kept Israel sovereign, but David was a true Israelite. Herod on the other hand is not. He is only half Israeli, He is chosen by Rome to rule over Israel. And from an economic point of view, Herod is very successful. But he does have his down falls. Herod was obsessed with power. In his old age, his decisions became even more irrational and reflected his paranoia of losing that power.
It is at this time that there are Magi, wise men, (or better understood, astrologers) from the east, Persians or Babylonians. They have seen a star, one that is not foretold by the prophets of Israel, but they see it as a sign to them that royalty among the Jews has been born. And so, they go searching. Why? And how did they know what they were they looking for? What were they hoping to find that they could not find in Herod?
This star would bring these first gentiles, to a crossroads that would bring them to encounter not just the King of the Jews, but the King of Kings. They came to pay him homage. They came to profess loyalty, they did so, because something told them that Jesus would be the Hope of the world. Something Herod would not be and could not be. Herod would also come searching, but for a very different purpose.
I have often wondered how these foreigners from the east knew about this Royal birth even before Herod did. That in and of itself should tell us something marvelous about God and the Son he sent to save the world. It is often the case that God often works outside the box of our thinking to go a different direction.
Following a star, the magi came searching for the one born to be King of the Jews. Why? And why not the current King? Why would they come from a foreign land to worship him and, again, not the current king? Herod’s obsession with his own power and growing lack of concern for his subjects reveals his serious flaws.
And what of Herod, who when he first heard of the Magi’s search, was frightened and all of Jerusalem with him. When he asked his own wise men, the scribes and priests, they knew exactly what he was talking about, but not one of them went looking, at least not until Herod gave the order.
He told these wise men from the east that he too wanted to worship this new born king, but we know later that was not true. His purpose for searching for the Messiah was less than honorable. But never the less he would have his men search for the child.
All of this together should tell us something about searching for Jesus; No matter what our reason is, if we are truly seeking him, we will find him, No matter where we have come from, whether we are raised in a biblical family, or whether talk of the bible is foreign to us, and yet something has caught our eye, or our ear, and we go searching, God will lead us to the crossroad, where hopefully, we will discover the King of kings. It’s what we do with Him after we have found that can either make us or break us in the end.
Never-the-less, to discover Jesus, we must get up and start searching, it is not enough just saying we know him. Plenty of people think they know who he is, but they do not seek to follow him. As you discover more and more of Jesus, you too will hopefully discover your reasons to pay him homage. profess your loyalty, give your gifts of prayers, presence, time, and service to his Kingdom, so that you may know it without end.
Even though it was a star that led them, they found the Christ Child, they came to pay homage. I looked that word up in Webster’s and it means a profession of fidelity and loyalty or to worship. Even before the first disciple is ever called, even before the Christ Child ever utters a word, people of a foreign race and land, have come to a pivotal moment following their own star to meet the Christ Child.
Herod will search and in due time also find the Christ. Even though his reasons are nefarious, they no less play into God’s plans for the whole world.
Still his plans are to snuff out the would-be competition. There can only be one king at a time, and he is no doubt not ready to give up his crown. They don’t call him Herod the Great for nothing. He has done a lot to rebuild the capitol city of Jerusalem, it is an economic boom for Israel, even if has come at the expense of the poor and marginalized peoples. Even though Israel is subservient to Rome, under Herod’s leadership, it has prospered well. But the soul of Israel has been all but sold to the devil himself.
Maybe that was something that God had shown the wise men through a star. Maybe that is why they came searching for a new king. They could see, that even though Israel and Judah were now prosperous, they were heading in the wrong direction.
I think we are all searching for the Christ, it’s the reason we come each Sunday. We are searching for something. But is it for the right reasons? Are we truly searching for hope, peace, joy, and love, healing, new life? Or is it something else?
Herod aside, God has come to us in our world as we search for something that helps to make meaning of our lives; if we are searching for hope, if we are searching for peace, if we are searching for joy, and if we are searching for love and belonging that never ends; With our hearts in the right place, we will find the answer in this child born King of Kings.
And it does not matter where we have come from, it does not matter what we have followed to get here. We do not have to be biblical scholars to know that God has and is continuing to do something wonderful and powerful and even new in our lives today through this one who was destined to be King of all mankind.
What is it that you are searching for in Christ? What was it that brought you to this point? What will you find at the crossroads of your search? And what gift will you bring to pay him homage? Gold? Frankincense? Myrrh? All he really wants from us is our heart, our love, our loyalty. Amen.