“Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.’” (Matt. 2, NLT)
So, these wise guys show up and Herod worries about the birth of a rival king, the Christ. He’s evidently up to speed on Jewish belief and he has an idea of what this means.
He gathers the chief priests and men learned in the Law. He asks them the question: “Where will the Christ be born?”
Hands shoot up all over the room. “Bethlehem!” says one, beaming with pride to have distinguished himself in front of his colleagues. He probably quoted the verse from the Bible.
“Bethlehem…” says Herod as his eyes narrow.
Stop the film! Wait! I want to ask a question.
Here are the leaders of God’s people. Strange men have traveled hundreds of miles to seek for the Messiah of Israel, talking about a star or something. Herod poses the question, “Where will He be born?” Every one of them knew the answer. That was kindergarten stuff, they knew it so well.
So What? What’s for Lunch?
Then they all went home? Went home!
Not one of these spiritual leaders was hungry enough for God and looking for the Messiah to make the little trip down to Bethlehem and see what was up?
“Oh, David, you don’t know. We get these Messiah alerts all the time. No big deal. You’ve got to be realistic. He’ll come in His own time. Besides, have you seen how these wise men are dressed? Weird. Wonder what’s for lunch?”
Question for David, sitting in front of his computer, typing these words: “Would you have gone?” How about you? Would you have gone?
Am I hungry for God? Bible knowledge gushed out of the ears of these learned Jewish leaders. But not one of them had enough spiritual insight to realize that at last, this was it. The Messiah had come.
All their head wisdom didn’t tip off their heart that something had changed.
But, the hungry hearts continued their voyage. Scholars speculate about these “wise men,” “magi,” or whatever. Were they astrologers? Who knows?
Funny where you find hungry hearts isn’t it?
The truth is that they had probably heard about the Messiah from the time of the Jewish captivity in Babylon, hundreds of years before. They might have read Daniel’s prophecy about the coming King.
The trip from Babylon to Jerusalem was 520 miles as the crow flies. Following the main road, one would travel 900 miles (this was the road taken by armies and large bodies of men). The trip from Jerusalem to Bethlehem was about six miles.
These strange men walked (or rode their camels) hundreds of miles (plus six), to find the Messiah. And the leaders of God’s people couldn’t walk six miles to check it out?
Here’s a truth: It’s easier to say, “No,” and go home to the status quo than it is to take the time to see if it’s real.
Leaders do have to be prudent about people claiming to have the latest revival from God. We’ve swallowed that line enough to know that it isn’t always so. But, sometimes it is.
When you check out something that claims to be of God, don’t go like a hunger-crazed fish looking at a worm. Swim around it a bit to see if there is a hook. Look to see if there is a line attached, etc.
Does this honor God? Does it draw people to Jesus for salvation and help?
Does it help people be delivered from sin and to live a holy life? A LOT of what passes for God is just glitter and noise, so be careful. Observe the fruits.
But, by all means, go with a hungry heart. Pastor, if you lose your desire for God, so will the people you’re responsible for.
Once in France I received about four different invitations to a meeting that was going to “help people live something new with God.”
When I went, though, there was a ton of talk about outward manifestations. I saw and heard a lot of strange things, and honestly, I do think the people loved the Lord. But, I’m not sure I heard the name of Jesus one time that night, at least not in the teaching. “Manifestations,” yes plenty of them, but Jesus?
I wonder if there is anything more important than a heart that wants to know God through his Son. Bible knowledge without experience won’t get you there. Spiritual thrill-seeking won’t get you there, but hunger and thirst for the living God always gets you there, most especially when your search for more of God is grounded in His Word and prayer.
We’re after God, not just feelings, experience or a doctrine. We want more of Jesus.
“Grief never ends but it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness or a lack of faith … It’s the price of love.” (source unknown)