“10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And after entering the house, they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshipped Him. Then, after opening their treasure chests, they presented to Him gifts [fit for a king, gifts] of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
Matthew 2:10-11 AMP
The wise men seemed to lose track of the star that was guiding them and this caused them detour and arrive in Jerusalem, not Bethlehem (8.2km apart; nearly a 2-hour journey by foot). They had already been travelling for more than 18 days and I am sure that they were tired and eager to find the new-born King. After their encounter with King Herod the Great, the star reappeared and they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
Can you imagine the emotion? They had invested so much time and effort and had gone through a great expense to travel a long way because they had seen the star – the star that a prophecy which was written around 1400BC said would announce the coming King. The Bible records that the wise men rejoiced exceedingly with great joy when they saw the star and had come to the end of their journey. Their seeking was complete. They had now found.
In Nativity scenes we see Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus, some shepherds and a few animals, together with the wise men, all gathered at the stable. However, the Bible records that the journey of the wise men came to a conclusion in a house and that Jesus was now a young child – based on the time it took for the wise men to travel from the time they first saw the star, Jesus would have been a minimum of 18 days old, but not older than 40 days (when Jesus would have been presented at the Temple in Jerusalem, according to the Law).
Most people wouldn’t place value on a young child, especially if the child and His family were in a normal-looking-house, but the wise men were wise enough to recognize who this Baby was, and when they entered the house and saw Jesus and His mother they were wise enough to fall down and worship Him and give Him gifts. They didn’t worship Mary, they worshipped Jesus.
“Then Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel left her.”
Luke 1:38 AMP
“Now in a great house, there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honourable use, some for dishonourable.”
2 Timothy 2:20 ESV
When the angel announced to Mary that she would have a child and that the child would be the Son of God, she recognized that she was simply a servant of God; a chosen vessel to carry out the purposes of God. It’s important for us to recognize that God chooses us and works through us but without Him, we are nothing (John 15:4-5). Likewise, it is important for us to recognize (like the wise men did) that God works through people and performs great things through people – chosen vessels. It’s God’s power and ability working through people. We should never worship the people, or the vessel, our worship (the focus of our affection) should be reserved for Jesus.
Don’t be distracted by the vessels that God works through – it’s ok to honour or respect them, but we should only ever worship Jesus. It’s easy to be distracted by many things at Christmastime but purpose in your heart to keep the main thing, the main thing. Although we celebrate Christmas with things like family-time, presents and amazing food, the focus of our affection should be Jesus.
Jesus is the Reason for the season.