Looking For Jesus

15 12 2009

Scripture: Matthew 2:1-7

Can you imagine the voyage?  There was a journey that started far away and long ago.  Some astrologers were studying the sky, when a new star came into being.  To astrologers this could only have one meaning – a king was born.  With their insight and understanding, and consulting charts and books, they discovered that with the time of year and based on the location of the star in the sky they came to the conclusion that this star heralded the birth of the new king of the Jews.

Some kings had astrologers that worked alongside their magicians and diviners to help the king to make decisions.  Some kings would only consult these people when he was unsure of what to do.  Other kings wouldn’t make any big decision before consulting them first.

Perhaps these Magi – these wise men – were sent from a foreign kingdom with these gifts for the new king of the Jews.  Perhaps they were kings such as the song suggests, but that is unlikely.  They might have even been Zoroastrians – a group with a few still remaining – that were like astrological priests – a group unto themselves, motivated by great signs in the heavens to bring their gifts to this new great king.

So they came to the land of the Jews and to the seat of supposed Jewish royalty to the palace of King Herod.  It was a natural choice – usually the next king that is born is the son of the present king.  They arrive at the palace all set to present their gifts to Herod’s son, only to discover that there is no new king born recently in the palace.  I am sure that the Magi must’ve been puzzled.  But having a competing king born of a different family was almost as typical in that day and age.

Perhaps up to this point Herod felt fairly secure in his position.  He had wormed his way into the good graces of Rome.  The Romans wanted to make him a prelate, or a governor of Jerusalem and Judea, but he managed to convince them to give him the title of king of the Jews.  Herod was a man who loved power and prestige – there was nothing more important to him.  We know this by his reaction to any who threatened his reign.  He killed his wife and two sons.  When the Magi arrived at Herod’s palace, he must’ve been shocked when he heard the news about the birth of a new king of the Jews – his jaw must’ve hit the floor.

I don’t know if you’ve seen a character in the movies that is totally shocked, angry and paranoid by something that they’ve just been told and they try to hide it.  It often comes out really strong and then they try to reel in their emotions.

“WHAT!?!?!?!” I mean…what – good news…I hadn’t heard…that’s fascinating news…”

And although the wolfish rage only flashed across his face for a moment, if you could see his face and look closely enough, perhaps you would see embers of hatred smouldering in his eyes.

So the wise men figure out that their first guess was incorrect – the king they were looking for was not born in the palace to the present king.  They realized that they would have to go elsewhere to worship this new king.  They had read the signs – no baby of the right age there, the king’s less than positive reaction…they are wise men after all and adept at reading signs. (smile)

Perhaps you’ve seen the bumper sticker or the sign on some churches – Wise Men still seek him.  I would say that holds true for wise women too.  But I am going to take it one step further and suggest that most people seek Jesus.  But why?  Why would most people seek Jesus?

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that we all are born to worship something or someone – it seems like it is built into the very DNA of human beings.  We show this by praising things – favourite movies, works of art, sports teams, vehicles or other toys.

As well as having a built in desire to worship, I believe that we also have a built in desire to search out the one to worship.  Some of us get sidetracked along the way, and wind up worshipping someone else or something else.  When we do, that thing takes the priority of a place that only God should have.  And if it does, the joy that was planted in our hearts when we first heard about Jesus, will fade.  Jesus came to bring us joy – we need to stay focused on our journey towards Jesus – keep our hearts fixed on seeking him.

And for those who would deny looking for Jesus, or don’t seem to be looking for him, I still believe that they are drawn to him – I believe that the whole world is drawn to him in one way or another.  When God sent his Son into this world as a gift to all of mankind, there was something about him that wouldn’t allow people to ignore him.  With Jesus there is no null effect – there’s something about him that forces people to consider him, think about him and try to develop a response to him.

Well, let me ask you a question this morning – are you seeking Jesus?  And if so, why are you looking for Jesus?  It’s a question with two different answers when it comes to the wise men vs Herod.  Some, like Herod look for Jesus to attempt to root him out – to get rid of him.  Those people are motivated by hatred of Jesus to seek to get rid of any and all instances of him.  These are people that don’t want to have to concede that Jesus should be the real king of their lives because that would mean that they would have to step down to give up that throne for him.

That throne of their lives means the world to them – they would give anything to keep it and to keep anyone else from having it.  But living that way will never allow you to have real lasting joy and contentment.  You can have joy that will last only for a little while, but to have joy that lasts, that throne needs to be given up to Jesus.

By joy I don’t mean a frivolous, silly type of joy.  Instead we need the kind of joy that will sustain us through our darkest times – and only Jesus can do that.  By giving him the place of honour and the recognition of that honour, we can have a true and lasting joy.

It’s ironic that the ultimate search for Jesus will leave every one of us on our knees.  We can either choose to be on our knees, offering our love, our gratitude and our gifts, like the Wise Men did; or we can be brought to our knees by submission when Jesus returns, and all those who opposed him will be humbled into submission by being in the presence of the great king.  I would rather do so out of my own choice with love and joy, than out of fear and judgement.

Speaking of that kind of joy reminds me of a story that was shared with me.  It was about a boy who had heart troubles.  The doctor had run some tests, but they were inconclusive – the only way to be sure of things was surgery – open things up and have a look.  He wanted to explain to the boy what would happen the next day so he invited him in to his office.

“Tomorrow morning,” the surgeon began,”I’ll open up your heart…”

“…you’ll find Jesus there,” the boyinterrupted.

The surgeon looked up, annoyed “I’ll cut your heart open,” he continued, to see how much damage has been done…”

“…but when you open up my heart, you’ll find Jesus in there.” said the boy.

The surgeon looked to the parents, who Sat quietly. “When I see how much damage has been done, I’ll sew your heart and chest back up, and I’ll planwhat to do next.”

“But you’ll find Jesus in my heart.  The Bible says He lives there.  The hymns all say He lives there.  You’ll
find Him in my heart.”

The surgeon had had enough. “I’ll tell you what I’ll find in your heart.  I’ll find damaged muscle, low blood supply, and weakened vessels.  And I’ll find out if I can make you well.”

“You’ll find Jesus there too. He lives there.”

The surgeon left.

The surgeon sat in his office, recording his notes from the surgery, “…damaged aorta, damaged pulmonary vein, widespread muscle degeneration.  No hope for transplant, no hope for cure. Therapy:painkillers and bed rest. Prognosis: here he paused, “death within one year.”

He stopped the recorder, but there was more to be said.  “Why?” he asked aloud.  “Why did You do this? You’ve put him here; You’ve put him in this pain; and You’ve cursed him to an early death. Why?”

The Lord answered and said, “The boy, My lamb, was not meant for your flock for long, for he is a part of My flock, and will forever be.  Here, in My flock, he will feel no pain, and will be comforted as you cannot imagine.

His parents will one day join him here, and they will know peace, and my flock will continue to grow..”

The sur geon’s tears were hot, but his anger was hotter… “You created that boy, and You created that heart.  He’ll be dead in months.  Why?”

The Lord answered, “The boy, My lamb, shall return to My flock, for He has done his duty: I did not put My lamb with your flock to lose him, but to retrieve another lost lamb…”

The surgeon wept…

The surgeon sat beside the boy’s bed; the boy’s parents sat across from him. The boy awoke and whispered, “Did you cut open my heart?”

“Yes,” said the surgeon.

“What did you find?” asked the boy.

“I found Jesus there,” said the surgeon.

Sometimes even forget that they are looking for Jesus, but through our example of faith and trust in Christ, we can help return them to that search and help them find Jesus.  That boy knew the joy that Jesus brings.  It is a joy that brings with it hope, peace and love.  In your journey of faith, may you find that kind of joy.

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