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The Star and the Wise Men December 24, 1882 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"Now Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews'? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy." Matthew 2:1-2 , Matthew 2:9-10 .
See, dear friends, the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ even in his state of humiliation! He is born of lowly parents, laid in a manger, and wrapped in swaddling bands; but, lo! the principalities and powers in the heavenly places are in commotion. First, one angel descends to proclaim the advent of the new-born King and suddenly there is with him a multitude of the heavenly host singing glory unto God. Nor was the commotion confined to the spirits above; for in the heavens which overhang this card, there is a stir. A star is deputed on behalf of all the stars, as if he were the envoy and plenipotentiary of all worlds to represent them before their King. This star is put in commission to wait upon the Lord, to be his herald to men afar off, his usher to conduct them to his presence, and his body-guard to sentinel his cradle. Earth, too, is stirred. Shepherds have come to pay the homage of simple-minded ones: with all love and joy they bow before the mysterious child; and after them from afar come the choice and flower of their generation, the most studious minds of the age. Making a long and difficult journey, they too at last arrive, the representatives of the Gentiles. Lo! the kings of Seba and Sheba offer gifts gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Wise men, the leaders of their peoples, bow down before him, and pay homage to the Son of God. Wherever Christ is he is honorable. "Unto you that believe he is honor." In the day of small things, when the cause of God is denied entertainment, and is hidden away with things which are despised, it is still most glorious. Christ, though a child, is still King of kings; though among the oxen, he is still distinguished by his star. Beloved friends, if wise men of old came to Jesus and worshipped, should not we come also? My intense desire this morning is that we all may pay homage to him of whom we sing, "Unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given." Let those of us who have long worshipped, worship anew with yet lowlier reverence and intenser love. And God grant-oh, that he would grant it! that some who are far off from him spiritually, as the Magi were far off locally, may come to-day and ask, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have come to worship him." May feet that have been accustomed to broad roads, but unaccustomed to the narrow path, this day pursue that way till they see Jesus, and how before him with all their hearts, finding salvation in him. These wise men came naturally, traversing the desert; let us come spiritually, leaving our sins. These were guided by the sight of a star; let us be guided by faith in the divine Spirit, by the teaching of his word and all those blessed lights which the Lord uses to conduct men to himself. Only let us come to Jesus. It was well to come unto the babe Jesus, led by the feeble beams of a star; you shall find it still more blessed to come to him now that he is exalted in the highest heavens, and by his own light reveals his own perfect glory. Delay not, for this day he cries, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." This morning let us try to do three things. First, let us gather light from this star; secondly, let us gather wisdom from those wise men; and thirdly, let us act as wise men helped by our own particular star. I. First, then, LET US GATHER LIGHT FROM THIS STAR. May the Spirit of the Lord enable us so to do. I suppose you have each one his own imagination as to what this star was. It would seem to have been altogether supernatural, and not a star, or a comet of the ordinary kind. It was not a constellation, nor a singular conjunction of planets: there is nothing in the Scriptures to support such a conjecture. In all probability it was not a star in the sense in which we now speak of stars: for we find that it moved before the wise men, then suddenly disappeared, and again shone forth to move before them. It could not have been a star in the upper spheres like others, for such movements would not have been possible. Some have supposed that the wise men went in the direction in which the star shone forth in the heavens, and followed the changes of its position: but it could not in that case have been said that it stood over the place where the young child was. If the star was at its zenith over Bethlehem, it would have been in its zenith over Jerusalem too; for the distance is so small that it would not have been possible to observe any difference in the position of the star in the two places. It must have been a star occupying quite another sphere from that in which the planets revolve. We believe it to have been a luminous appearance in mid-air; probably akin to that which led the children of Israel through the wilderness, which was a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Whether it was seen in the daylight or not we cannot tell. Chrysostom and the early fathers are wonderfully positive about many things which Scripture leaves in doubt, but as these eminent divines drew upon their imagination for their facts, we are not under bonds to follow them. They aver that this star was so bright as to be visible all day long. If so, we can imagine the wise men travelling day and night; but if it could be seen only by night, the picture before us grows far more singular and weird like as we see these easterns quietly pursuing their star-lit way, resting perforce when the sun was up, but noiselessly hurrying at night through slumbering lands. These questions are not of much importance to us, and therefore we will not dwell long upon them. Only here is a first lesson: if it should ever be that men should fail to preach the gospel, God can conduct souls to his Son by a star. Ah! say not only by a star, but by a stone, a bird, a blade of grass, a drop of dew.
"Remember that Omnipotence Has servants everywhere."
Therefore, despond not when you hear that one minister has ceased to preach the gospel, or that another is fighting against the viral truth of God. Their apostasy shall be to their own loss rather than to the hurt of Jesus and his church; and, sad though it be to see the lamps of the sanctuary put out, yet God is not dependent upon human lights, he is the Shekinah light of his own holy place. Mortal tongues, if they refuse to preach his word, shall have their places supplied by books in the running brooks and sermons in stones. The beam shall cry out of the wall, and the timber shall answer it. When chief priests and scribes have all gone out of the way, the Lord puts stars into commission, and once more in very deed the heavens are telling the glory of God, and the firmament is showing his handiwork. Sooner than lack speakers for the incarnate God, mountains and hills shall learn eloquence and break forth into testimony. Jehovah's message shall be made known to the utmost ends of the earth. God shall save his own elect; he shall give to Christ to see of the travail of his soul and to be satisfied. His counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure. Hallelujah! Now, when the Lord does use a star to be his minister, what is the order of his ministry? We may learn by this enquiry what kind of ministry God would have ours to be if we are stars in his right hand. We also shine as lights in the world: let us see how to do it. We notice, first, that star-preaching is all about Christ. We do not know what the color of the star was, nor the shape of the star, nor to what magnitude it had attained; these items are not recorded, but what is recorded is of much more importance; the wise men said "We have seen his star." Then the star which the Lord will use to lead men to Jesus must be Christ's own star. The faithful minister, like this star, belongs to Christ; he is Christ's own man in the most emphatic sense. Before we can expect to be made a blessing, dear friends, we must ourselves be blessed of the Lord. If we would cause others to belong, to Jesus, we must belong wholly to Jesus ourselves. Every beam in that star shone forth for Jesus. It was his star, always, and only, and altogether. It shone not for itself, but only as his star: as such it was known and spoken of "we have seen his star." As I have already said, there is no note taken of any peculiarity that it had except this one, that it was the star of the King. I wish that you and I, whatever our eccentricities or personalities may be, may never make so much of them as to attract men's attention to them. May people never dwell upon our attainments or our deficiencies, but may they always observe this one thing, that we are men of God, that we are ambassadors of Christ, that we are Christ's servants, and do not attempt to shine for ourselves, or to make ourselves conspicuous; but that we labor to shine for him, that his way may be known upon earth, his saving health among all people. Brother, it is well for us to forget ourselves in our message, to sink ourselves in our Master. We know the names of several of the stars, yet they may each one envy that star which remains anonymous, but can never be forgotten because men who sought the King of Israel knew it as "his star." Though you be but a very little star, twinkling for Jesus; however feeble your light may be, be it plain that you are his star, so that if men wonder what you are, they may never wonder whose you are, for on your very forefront it shall be written, "Whose I am and whom I serve." God will not lead men to Christ by us unless we are Christ's heartily, wholly, unreservedly. In his temple our Lord uses no borrowed vessels; every bowl before the altar must be his own. It is not consistent with the glory of God for him to use borrowed vessels. He is not so poor as that comes to. This lesson is worthy of all acceptation. Are you in a hurry to preach, young man? Are you sure you are Christ's? Do you think it must be a fine thing to hold a company or people listening to your words? Have you looked at it in another light,? Have you weighed the responsibility of having to speak as Christ would have you speak, and of yielding yourself in your entire personality to the utterance of the mind of God? You must be consecrated and concentrated if you hope to be used or the Lord. If you have one ray, or ten thousand rays, all must shine with the one design of guiding men to Jesus. You have nothing now to do with any object, subject, design, or endeavor, but Jesus only: in him, and for him, and to him must you live henceforth, or you will never be chosen of the Lord to conduct either wise men or babes to Jesus. See ye well to it that perfect consecration be yours. Note next that true star-preaching leads to Christ. The star was Christ's star itself, but it also led others to Christ. It did this very much because it moved in that direction. It is a sad thing when a preacher is like a sign-post pointing the way but never following it, on his own account. Such were those chief priests at Jerusalem: they could tell where Christ was born, but they never went to worship him; they were indifferent altogether to him and to his birth. The star that leads to Christ must always be going to Christ. Men are far better drawn by example than driven by exhortation. Personal piety alone can be owned of God to the production of piety in others. "Go," say you; but they will not go. Say "come," and lead the way: then they will come. Do not the sheep follow the shepherd? He who would lead others to Christ should go before them himself, having his face towards his Master, his eyes towards his Master, his steps toward his Master, his heart towards his Master. We are so to live that we may without boasting exhort those around us to have us for an example. Oh, that all who think themselves to be stars would themselves diligently move towards the Lord Jesus. The star in the east led wise men to Christ because it went that way itself: there is a wisdom in example which truly wise men are quick to perceive. This star had such an influence upon the chosen men that they could not but follow it: it charmed them across the desert. Such a charm may reside in you and in me, and we may exercise a powerful ministry over many hearts, being to them as loadstones, drawing them to the Lord Jesus. Happy privilege! We would not, merely show the road, but induce our neighbors to enter upon it. We read of one of old, not that they told him of Jesus, but that "they brought him to Jesus." We are not only to tell the story of the cross, but we are to persuade men to fly to the Crucified One for salvation. Did not the king in the parable say to his servants, "Compel them to come in." Assuredly he girds his own messengers with such a compelling power that men cannot hold out any longer, but must follow their lead and bow at the King's feet. The star did not draw, "as it were with a cart rope," nor by any force, material and physical; yet it drew these wise men from the remote east right to the manger of the new-born child. And so, though we have no arm of the law to help us, nor patronage, nor pomp of eloquence, nor parade of learning, yet we have a spiritual power by which we draw to Jesus thousands who are our joy and crown. The man sent of God comes forth from the divine presence permeated with a power which makes men turn to the Savior and live. Oh! that such power might go forth from all God's ministers yea, from all God's servants engaged in street-preaching, in Sunday-schools, in tract-visitation, and in every form of holy service. God uses those whose aim and intent it is to draw men to Christ. He puts his Spirit into them, by which Spirit they are helped to set forth the Lord Jesus as so lovely and desirable that men run to him and accept his glorious salvation. It is a small thing to shine, but it is a great thing to draw. Any cast-away may be brilliant; but only the real saint will be attractive for Jesus. I would not pray to be an orator, but I do pray to be a soul-winner. Do not aim, beloved brethren, at anything short of leading men to Jesus. Do not be satisfied to lead them to orthodox doctrine, or merely to bring them to a belief in those views which you hold to be Scriptural, valuable as that way be. It is to the person of the incarnate God that we must bring them to his feet we must conduct them that they may worship him: our mission is not accomplished, it is a total failure, unless we conduct our hearers to the house where Jesus dwells, and then stand over them, keeping watch over their souls for Jesus' sake. Once more, the star which God used in this case was a star that stopped at Jesus: it went before the wise men till it brought them to Jesus, and then it stood still over the place where the young child was. I admire the manner of this star. There are remarkable stars in the theological sky at the present, time: they have led men to Jesus, so they say, and now they lead them into regions beyond, of yet undeveloped thought. The gospel of the Puritans is "old-fashioned"; these men have discovered that it is unsuitable for the enlarged intellects of the times; and so these stars would guide us further still. To this order of wandering stars I do not belong myself, and I trust I never shall. Progress beyond the gospel I have no desire for. "God forbid that I should glory save ill the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." When the star had come to the place where the young child was, it stood still: and so should the gracious mind become settled, fixed, immovable. The wise men knew where to find that star, and where to find the young child by it: so be it with us. Oh, you that have hitherto been diligent in leading souls to Christ, never indulge for a single moment the notion that you need a broader philosophy or a deeper spirituality than are to be found in Jesus. Abide in him. Cry, "Oh God, my heart is fixed. My heart is fixed." There is nothing beyond Christ which is worth a moment's thought. Do not lose your paradise in Christ for another taste of that tree of knowledge of good-and-evil which ruined our first parents. Stick you to the old points: your one subject Christ, your one object to bring men to Christ, your one glory the glory of Christ. Standing by your Lord, and there alone, from this day to the last day, you will secure a happy, honored, and holy life. They said of Greece after her fall that it had become so ruined that you might search for Greece in Greece and fail to find it: I fear I must say that some professed preachers of the gospel have roamed so far away from it that you cannot find the gospel in their gospel, nor Christ himself in the Christ they preach. So far have some diverged from the grand essential soul-saving truth beyond which no man ought to dare to think of going, that they retain nothing of Christianity but the name. All that is beyond truth is a lie; anything beyond revelation is at best a minor matter, and most probably is an old wives' fable, even though he may be of the masculine gender who invented it. Stand you to your colors you who hope to be used of the Lord. Abide so that men shall find you in twenty years' time shining for Jesus and pointing to the place where the Savior is to be found, even as you are doing now. Let Jesus Christ be your ultimatum. Your work is done when you bring souls to Jesus, and help to keep them there, by being yourself "steadfast, unmovable." Be not carried away from the hope of your calling; but hold fast even the form of sound words, for it may be that in letting go the form you may lose the substance also. II. Now that we have somewhat rejoiced in the light of the star, let us see if we can GATHER WISDOM FROM THE WISE MEN. Perhaps you have heard the "much speaking" of tradition as to who they were, whence they came, and how they traveled. In the Greek church, I believe, they know their number, their names, the character of their retinue, and what kind of ornaments were on their dromedaries' necks. Details which are not found in the word of God you may believe or not, at your pleasure, and you will be wise if our pleasure is not to believe too much. We only know that they were Magi, wise men from the East, possibly of the old Parsee religion watchers if not worshippers of the stars. We will not speculate about them, but learn from them. They did not content themselves with admiring the star and comparing it with other stars, and taking notes as to the exact date of its appearance, and how many times it twinkled, and when it moved, and all that; but they practically used the teaching of the star. Many are hearers and admirers of God's servants, but they are not wise enough to make fit and proper use of the preaching. They notice the peculiarity of the preacher's language, how much he is like one divine, how much he is unlike another; whether he coughs too often, or speaks too much in his throat; whether he is too loud or too low; whether he has not a provincial tone, whether there may not be about him a commonness of speech approaching to vulgarity; or, on the other hand, whether he may not be too florid in his diction. Such fooleries as these are the constant observations of men for whose souls we labor. They are perishing, and yet toying with such small matters With many it is all they go to the house of God for, to criticise in this paltry fashion. I have even seen them come to this place with opera glasses, as if they came hither to inspect an actor who lived and labored to arouse their leisure hours. Such is the sport of fools; but these were wise men, and therefore practical men. They did not become star-gazers, and stop at the point of admiring the remarkable star; but they said, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him." They set out at once to find the now-born King, of whose coming the star was the signal. Oh, my dear hearers, how I wish that you were all wise in this same manner! I would sooner preach the dullest sermon that was ever preached than preach the most brilliant that was ever spoken if I could by that poor sermon lead you quite away from myself to seek the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the one thing I care about. Will you never gratify me by enquiring after my Lord and Master? I long to hear you say, "What is the man talking about? He speaks about a Savior; we will have that Savior for ourselves. He talks about pardon through the blood of Christ; he speaks about God coming down among men to save them; we will find out if there is any reality in this pardon, any truth in this salvation. We will seek Jesus, and find for ourselves the blessings which are reported to be laid up in him." If I heard you all saying this I should be ready to die of joy. Is not this a good day on which to set out to find your Savior? Some of you that have postponed it long, would it not be well to set out at once ere this expiring year has seen its last day? These wise men appear to have set out as soon as they discovered the star: they were not among those who have time to waste in needless delays. "There is the star," said they; "away we go beneath its guidance. We are not satisfied with a star, we go to find the King whose star it is!" And so they set out to find Christ immediately and resolutely. Being wise men, they persevered in their search after him. We cannot tell how far they journeyed. Travelling was extremely difficult in those times. There were hostile tribes to avoid, the broad rivers of the Tigris and the Euphrates to cross, and trackless deserts to penetrate; but they made nothing of difficulty or danger. They set out for Jerusalem, and to Jerusalem they came, seeking the King of the Jews. If it be true that God has taken upon himself our nature, we ought to resolve to find him, let it cost what it may. If we must circumnavigate the globe to find a Savior, the distance and the expense ought to be nothing so long as we may but reach him. Were the Christ in the bowels of the earth, or in the heights of heaven we ought not to rest till we come at him. Everything that was necessary for their expedition the wise men soon gathered together, regardless of expense; and off they went following the star that they might discover the Prince of the kings of the earth. At length they came to Jerusalem, and here new trials awaited them. It must have been a great trouble to them when they asked, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?" and the people shook their heads as if they thought the question an idle one. Neither rich nor poor in the metropolitan city knew anything of Israel's King. The ribald multitude replied, "Herod is king of the Jews. Mind how you speak of another king, or your head may have to answer for it. The tyrant brooks no rival." The wise men must have been more astonished still when they found that Herod was troubled. They were glad to think that he was born who was to usher in the age or gold; but Herod's face grew blacker than ever at the bare mention of a king of the Jews. His eyes flashed, and a thundercloud was upon his brow; a dark deed of murder will come of it, though for the moment he conceals his malice. There is tumult all through the streets of Jerusalem, for no man knows what grim Herod may do now that he has been roused by the question, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews? Thus there was a ferment in Jerusalem, beginning at the palace; but this did not deter the wise men from their search for the promised Prince. They did not pack up their bales and go back and say, "It is useless to try to discover this questionable personage who is unknown even in the country of which he is King, and who appears to "be terribly unwelcome to those who are to be his subjects. We must leave to another day the solution of the question: "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?'" These earnest-minded seekers were not dispirited by the clergy and the learned men when they came together. To the chief priests and scribes the question was put, and they answered the enquiry as to where Christ would be born, but not a mother's son among them would go with the wise men to find this new-born King. Strange apathy! Alas, how common! Those who should have been leaders were no leaders; they would not even be followers of that which is good, for they had no heart towards Christ. The wise men rose superior to this serious discouragement. If the clergy would not help them they would go to Jesus by themselves. Oh, dear friend, if you are wise you will say, "I will find Christ alone if none will join me: if I dig to the center, I will find him; if I fly to the sun, I will find him; if all men put me off, I will find him; if the ministers of the gospel appear indifferent to me, I will find him: the kingdom of heaven or old suffered violence, and the violent took it by force, and so will I." The first Christians had to leave all the authorized teachers of the day behind, and to come out by themselves: it will be no strange thing if you should have to do the same. Happy will it be if you are determined to go through floods and flames to find Christ; for he will be found of you. Thus these men were wise because, having started on the search, they persevered in it till they found the Lord and worshipped him. Notice that they were wise because, when they again saw the star, "they rejoiced with exceeding great joy." While enquiring among the priests at Jerusalem they were perplexed, but when the star shone out again, they were at ease and full of joy: this joy they expressed, so that the evangelist recorded it. In these days very wise people think it necessary to repress all emotion, and appear like men of stone or ice. No matter what happens, they are stoical, and raised far above the enthusiasm of the vulgar. It is wonderful how fashions change, and folly stands for philosophy. But these wise men were children enough to be glad when their perplexity was over, and the clear light shone forth. It is a good sign when a man is not ashamed to be happy because he hears a plain, unmistakable testimony for the Lord Jesus. It is good to see the great man come down from his pedestal, and, like a little child, rejoice to hear the simple story of the cross. Give me the hearer who looks not for fineries, but cries out, "Lead me to Jesus. I want a guide to Jesus, and nothing else will suit me." Why, truly, if men did but know the value of things they would rejoice more to see a preacher of the gospel than a king. If the feet of the heralds of salvation be blessed, how much more their tongues when they tell out the tidings of a Savior. These wise men, with all their mystic learning were not ashamed to rejoice because a little star lent them its beams to conduct them to Jesus. We unite with them in rejoicing over a clear gospel ministry. For us all else is darkness, sorrow, and vexation of spirit; but that which leads us to our own glorious Lord is spirit, and light, and life. Better the sun should not shine than that a clear gospel should not be preached. We reckon that a country flourishes or decays according as gospel light is revealed or withdrawn. Now follow these wise men a little further. They have come to the house where the young child is. What will they do? Will they stand looking at the star? No: they enter in. The star stands still, but they are not afraid to lose its radiance, and behold the Sun of righteousness. They did not cry, "We see the star, and that is enough for us; we have followed the star, and it is all we need to do." Not at all. They lift, the latch, and enter the lowly residence of the babe. They see the star no longer, and they have no need to see it, for there is he that is born King of the Jews. Now the true Light has shone upon them from the face of the child; they behold the incarnate God. Oh, friends! how wise you will be if, when you have been led to Christ by any man, you do not rest in his leadership, but must see Christ for yourselves. How much I long that you may enter into the fellowship of the mystery, pass through the door, and come and behold the young child, and bow before him. Our woe is that so many are so unwise. We are only their guides, but they are apt to make us their end. We point the way, but they do not follow the road; they stand gazing upon us. The star is gone; it did its work, and passed away: Jesus remains, and the wise men live in him. Will any of you be so foolish as to think only of the dying preacher, and forget the ever-living Savior? Come, be wise, and hasten to your Lord at once. These men were wise, last of all and I commend their example to you-because when they saw the child they worshipped. Theirs was not curiosity gratified, but devotion exercised. We, too, must worship the Savior, or we shall never be saved by him. He has not come to put away our sins, and yet to leave us ungodly and self-willed. Oh you that have never worshipped the Christ of God, may you be led to do so at once! He is God over all, blessed for ever, adore him! Was God ever seen in such a worshipful form before? Behold he bows the heavens; he rides upon the wings of the wind; he scatters flames of fire; he speaks, and his dread artillery shakes the hills: you worship in terror. Who would not adore the great and terrible Jehovah? But is it not much better to behold him here, allied to your nature, wrapped like other children in swaddling clothes, tender, feeble, next akin to your own self? Will you not worship God when he thus comes down to you and becomes your brother, born for your salvation? Here nature itself suggests worship: O may grace produce it! Let us hasten to worship where shepherds and wise men and angels have led the way. Here let my sermon come to a pause even as the star did. Enter the house and worship! Forget the preacher. Let the starlight shine for other eyes. Jesus was born that you might be born again. He lived that you might live. He died that you might die to sin. He is risen, and to-day he maketh intercession for transgressors that they may be reconciled to God through him. Come, then; believe, trust, rejoice, adore! If you have neither gold, frankincense, nor myrrh, bring your faith, your love, your repentance, and falling down before the Son of God pay him the reverence of your hearts. III. And now I turn to my third and last point, which is this: LET US ACT AS WISE MEN UNDER THE LIGHT OF OUR STAR. We too have received light to lead us to the Savior: I might say that for us many stars have shone to that blessed end. I will, however, on this point content myself with asking questions. Do you not think that there is some light for you in your particular vocation, some call from God in your calling? Listen to me, and then listen to God. These men were watchers of the stars; therefore a star was used to call them. Certain other men soon after were fishermen; and by means of an amazing take of fish the Lord Jesus made them aware of his superior power, and then he called them to become fishers of men. For a star-gazer a star; for a fisherman a fish. The Master-Fisher hath a bait for each one of his elect, and oftentimes he selects a point in their own calling to be the barb of the hook. Were you busy yesterday at your counter? Did you bear no voice saying "Buy the truth and sell it not"? When you closed the shop last night did you not bethink yourself that soon you must close it for the last time? Do you make bread? and do you never ask yourself, "Has my soul eaten the bread of heaven?" Are you a farmer? do you till the soil? Has God never spoken to you by those furrowed fields and these changing seasons, and made you wish that your heart might be tilled and sown.? Listen! God is speaking! Hear, ye deaf; for there are voices everywhere calling you to heaven. You need not go miles about to find a link between you and everlasting mercy: the telegraphic wires are on either side of the road, God and human souls are near each other. How I wish that your common vocation would be viewed by you as concealing within itself the door to your high vocation. Oh that the Holy Spirit would turn your favourite pursuits into opportunities for his gracious work upon you. If not among the stars, yet among the flowers of the garden, or the cattle of the hills, or the waves of the sea may he find a net in which to enclose you for Christ. I wish that those of you who conclude that your calling could never draw you to Christ would make a point of seeing whether it might not be so. We are to learn from ants, and swallows, and cranes, and conies; surely we need never be short of tutors. It did seem that a star was an unlikely thing to head a procession of eastern sages, and yet it was the best guide that could be found; and so it may seem that your trade is an unlikely thing to bring you to Jesus, and yet the Lord may so use it. There may be a message from the Lord to thee in many a left-handed providence; a voice for wisdom may come to thee from the month of an ass; a call to a holy life may startle thee from a bush, a warning may flash upon thee from a wall, or a vision may impress thee in the silence of night when deep sleep falleth upon men. Only be thou ready to hear and God will find a way of speaking to thee. Answer the question as the wise men would have answered it, and say, "Yes, in our calling there is a call to Christ." Then, again, what should you and I do better in this life than seek after Christ! The wise men thought all other pursuits of small account compared with this. "Who is going to attend to that observatory and watch the rest of the stars?" They shake their heads, and say they do not know: these things must wait; they have seen his star, and they are going to worship him. But who will attend to their wives and families, and all besides, while they make this long journey? They reply that every lesser thing must be subordinate to the highest thing. Matters must be taken in proportion, and the search after the King of the Jews, who is the desire of all nations, is so out of all proportion great that all the rest must go. Are not you, also, wise enough to judge in this sensible fashion? Do you not think, dear friends, it would be well to use all to-morrow in seeking Jesus? It will be a leisure day, could you spend it better than in Seeking your Redeemer? If you were to take a week, and give it wholly to your own soul, and to seeking Christ, would it not be well spent? How can you live with your soul in jeopardy? Oh that you would say, "I must get this matter right; it is an all-important business, and I must see it secure." This would be no more than common-sense. If you are driving, and a trace is broken, do you not stop the horse, and get the harness right? How, then, can you go on with the chariot of life when all its harness is out of order, and a fall means eternal ruin? If you will stop driving to arrange a buckle for fear of accident, I would beg of you to stop anything and everything to see to the safety of your soul. See how the engineer looks to the safety-valve: are you content to run more desperate risks? If your house were not insured, and you carried on a hazardous trade, the probability is you would feel extremely anxious until you had arranged that matter: but your soul is uninsured, and it may burn for ever, will you not give heed to it? I beseech you be just to yourself, kind to yourself. Oh! see to your eternal well-being. You are not certain that you will get home to dinner to-day. Life is frail as a cobweb. You may be in hell before yon clock strikes one! Remember that. There is not a step between you and everlasting destruction from the presence of God if you are as yet unregenerate; and your only hope is to find the Savior, trust the Savior, obey the Savior. Wherefore, like these wise men, put everything on one side, and set out now upon an earnest, resolute, persevering endeavor to find Jesus. I was about to say resolve to find Jesus, or to die; but I will change the words, and say resolve to find him, and live. When we do come near to Jesus, let us ask ourselves this question, "Do we see more in Jesus than other people do?" for if we do, we are God's elect taught of God, illuminated by his Spirit. We read in the Scriptures that when these wise men saw the young child they fell down and worshipped him. Other people might have come in and seen the child, and said, "Many children are as interesting as this poor woman's babe." Ay, but as these men looked, they saw: all eyes are not so blessed. Eyes that see are gifts from the All-seeing One. Carnal eyes are blind; but these men saw the Infinite in the infant; the Godhead gleaming through the manhood; the glory hiding beneath the swaddling bands. Undoubtedly there was a spiritual splendor about this matchless child! We read that Moses' father and mother saw that he was a "goodly child"; they saw he was "fair unto God," says the original. But when these elect men saw that holy thing which is called the Son of the Highest, they discovered in him a glory all unknown before. Then was his star in the ascendant to them: he became their all in all, and they worshipped with all their hearts. Have you discovered such glory in Christ? "Oh!" says one, "you are always harping upon Christ and his glory. You are a man of one idea!" Precisely so. My one idea is that he is "altogether lovely," and that there is nothing out of heaven nor in heaven that can be compared with him even in his lowest and weakest estate. Have you ever seen as much as that in Jesus? If so, you are the Lord's; go you, and rejoice in him. If not, pray God to open your eyes until, like the wise men, you see and worship. Lastly, learn from these wise men that when they worshipped they did not permit it to be a mere empty-handed adoration. Ask yourself, "What shall I render unto the Lord?" Bowing before the young child, they offered "gold, frankincense and myrrh," the best of metals and the best of spices; an offering to the King of gold; an offering to the priest of frankincense; an offering to the child of myrrh. Wise men are liberal men. Consecration is the best education. To-day it is thought to be wise to be always receiving; but the Savior said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." God judges our hearts by that which spontaneously comes from them: hence the sweet cane bought with money is acceptable to him when given freely. He doth not tax his saints or weary them with incense; but he delights to see in them that true love which cannot express itself in mere words, but must use gold and myrrh, works of love and deeds of self-denial, to be the emblems of its gratitude. Brothers, you will never get into the heart of happiness till you become unselfish and generous; you have but chewed the husks of religion which are often bitter, you have never eaten of the sweet kernel until you have felt the love of God constraining you to make sacrifice. There is nothing in the true believer's power which he would not do for his Lord: nothing in our substance which we would not give to him, nothing in ourselves which we would not devote to his service. God give to you all grace to come to Jesus, even though it be by the starlight of this Sermon, for his love's sake! Amen.
The Wise Men, the Star, and the Savior
by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)
"Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him." Matthew 2:2
The incarnation of the Son of God was one of the greatest events in the history of the universe. Its actual occurrence was not, however, known to all mankind, but was specifically revealed to the shepherds of Bethlehem and to certain wise men from the east. To shepherds--the illiterate, men of very little learning--the angels in choral voices made known the birth of the Savior, Christ the Lord, and they hurried to Bethlehem to see the great sight; while the Scribes, the writers and expounders of the Law, knew nothing concerning the long promised birth of the Messiah. No band of angels entered the assembly of the Sanhedrin and proclaimed that the Christ was born; and when the chief priests and Pharisees [elite religious leaders] met together, though they gathered around copies of the law to consider where the Christ would be born, still it was not known to them that He had actually come, nor do they seem to have taken more than a passing interest in the matter, though they might have known that the time was very near when the Messiah would come, as spoken of by the prophets. How mysterious are the times for the giving of grace; the lowly things are chosen and the eminent are passed by! The coming of the Redeemer is revealed to the shepherds who kept their flocks of sheep by night, but not to the false religious shepherds whose allowed their sheep to stray. Admire the sovereignty of God.
The good news was also made known to wise men, magi, students of the stars and of old prophetic books from the far east. It would not be possible to tell how far off their native country lay; it may have been so distant that the journey occupied nearly the whole of the two years of which they spoke concerning the star. Traveling was slow in those days, surrounded with difficulties and many dangers. They may have come from Persia, or India, or even from the mysterious land of Sinim, now known as China. If so, strange and unknown must have been the speech of those who worshipped around the young child at Bethlehem, yet He needed no interpreter to understand and accept their adoration. Why was the birth of the King of the Jews made known to these foreigners, and not to those nearer home? Why did the Lord select those who lived hundreds of miles away, while the children of Israel, in whose very midst the Savior was brought forth, were yet strangely ignorant of His presence? See here again another instance of the sovereignty of God. Both in shepherds and in Eastern magi gathering around the young Child, I see God dispensing His favors as He wills; and, as I see it, I exclaim, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure." Herein we again see another instance of God's sovereign will; for I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah's time, yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon; there were many Jews in Israel who were called wise men, but the star did not appear to any of them; rather it shone only on Gentile eyes, and led a chosen company from the ends of the earth to bow at Immanuel's feet.
Sovereignty in these cases clothed itself in the robes of mercy. It was a great mercy that regarded the low estate of the shepherds, and it was a far reaching mercy which gathered from lands which lay in darkness a company of men and allowed them to see God's wonderful and blessed Savior. Mercy wearing her resplendent jewels was present with divine sovereignty in the lowly abode of Bethlehem. Isn't it a delightful thought, that around the cradle of the Savior, as well as around His throne in the highest heaven, these two attributes meet? He makes himself known--and herein is mercy; but it is to those whom He has chosen--and herein He shows that He will have mercy on whom He chooses to have mercy, and He will have compassion on whom He chooses to have compassion.
We will now endeavor to learn a practical lesson from the story of the wise men who came from the east to worship Christ. We may, if God the Holy Spirit will teach us, gather such instruction as may lead us also to become worshipers of the Savior, and joyful believers in Him.
Notice, first "their inquiry;" may many of us become inquirers on the same matter--"Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?" Notice, secondly, "their encouragement"--"We saw His star in the east." Because they had seen His star they felt bold enough to ask, "Where is He?" And then, thirdly, "their example"--"We have come to worship Him."
I. THEIR INQUIRY--"Where is He?"
Many things are evident in this question. It is clear that when the wise men thus inquired, there was in their minds "interest awakened." The King of the Jews was born, but Herod did not ask, "Where is He?" until his jealously was excited, and then he asked the question in a malicious spirit. Christ was born in Bethlehem, near to Jerusalem; yet throughout all the streets of the holy city there were no inquirers asking, "Where is He?" He was to be the glory of Israel, and yet in Israel there were indeed few who, like these wise men, asked the question, "Where is He?" My dear hearers, I will believe that there are some here this morning whom God intends to bless, and it will be a very hopeful sign that He intends to do so, if there any interest awakened in your mind concerning the work and person of the incarnate God. There are few who anxiously desire to know of Him. Yes! when we preach Him most earnestly, and tell of His sorrows as the One who suffered a death of torment for human sin, we are compelled to lament most bitterly over the carelessness of mankind, and mournfully ask,
"Is it nothing to you, all you that pass by; Is it nothing to you that Jesus should die?"
He is despised and rejected by men, He has no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him; but there are a chosen number [the Elect] who inquirer diligently, and who come to receive Him; to these who believe in His name, He gives the right to become children of God. It is a happy occurrence, therefore, whenever there is interest manifested. Interest in the things of Christ is not always demonstrated, even by those who regularly attend church. It gets to be a mere mechanical habit to attend public worship; you become accustomed to sit through the various parts of the service, to stand and sing at certain time, and to listen to the preacher with an apparent attention during the sermon; but to be really interested, to long to know what it is all about, to especially know whether you have a part in it, whether Jesus came from heaven to save you, whether He was born of a virgin for you, to make such personal inquiries with deep anxiety, is far from being a general practice: I pray to God that all who have ears to hear would hear the truth of the Word of God. Whenever the Word is heard with solemn interest, it is a very encouraging sign. It was said long ago, "They will ask the way to Zion and turn their faces toward it." There is great hope for the man who listens with deep attention to the Word of God, searches God's book, and engages in thoughtful meditation with the view of understanding the gospel. When he feels that there is something weighty and important, something worth knowing, in the gospel of Jesus, then we are encouraged and hope good things about him.
But in the case of the wise men we see not only interest shown, but "outright belief." They said, "Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews?" They were, therefore, fully convinced that He was the King of the Jews, and had recently been born. As a preacher I feel it to be a great mercy that I have to deal generally with persons who have some degree of belief concerning the things of God. I pray to God that we have more missions to those who have no sort of faith and no knowledge of Christ; and may the day come when Jesus Christ will be known everywhere. But here at home with you we have something to begin with. You do believe somewhat concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was born King of the Jews. Consider it a blessing that you have already believed some truth. I count it a great advantage to a young man that he believes the Bible to be true. There are some who have a hard fight to reach so far as that, for the sinning ways of the world has warped their minds. It is not, of course, an advantage which will save you, for many go down to hell believing the Scriptures to be true, and thus they accumulate guilt upon themselves from that very fact; but it is a great advantage to be assured that you have God's Word before you, and not to be troubled with questions about its inspiration and authenticity. O that you may go from that point of faith to another, and become a true and devoted believer in Jesus.
These wise men were men so far advanced that they had some leverage for a further lift of faith, for they believed that Christ was born, and born a King. There are many who are not saved, and yet they know that Jesus is the Son of God. Even here today are those who have no doubts about the atonement of Jesus Christ. You certainly stand in the position of highly favored persons. I only trust you may have grace given to you that you would avail yourselves of the favorable position in which God has placed you. Value what you have already received. When a blind man, whose eyes have long been closed in darkness, has an operation by an eye surgeon and is thus able to see a little light, he is very thankful for it, and hopeful that another operation may allow the full light to stream forth on the darkened eyeball. So, dear friend, be thankful for any light. O soul, so soon to pass into another world, so sure to be lost except you have the divine light, so certain to be cast into the outer darkness of hell, where there is weeping and wailing and the gnashing of teeth, be thankful for a spark of heavenly light; prize it, treasure it, be anxious about it that it may come to something more, and who knows, the Lord may bless you with the fullness of His truth?
When a great bridge was to be built over a very broad river, the challenge was to pass the first rope across the wide river. I have read that it was accomplished by flying a kite, and allowing it to fall on the opposite bank. The kite carried across a piece of string, then to the string was tied a line, and to the line a rope, and to the rope a stronger rope, and by-and-by the broad river was spanned, and the bridge was finished. In the same way God works by degrees. It is a good to see in human hearts a little interest concerning things divine, a little desire after Christ, a feeble wish to know who He is, and whether He is available to save the sinner from his judgment and torment. This hunger will lead to a craving after more, and that craving will be followed by another, till at last the soul will find her Lord and be satisfied in Him. In the wise men's case therefore we have, as I trust we have in some here, interest manifested, and a measure of outright belief.
Furthermore, in the case of the wise men, we see "ignorance admitted."
Wise men are never above asking questions, because they are wise men; so the magi asked, "Where is He?" Persons who have taken the name and degree of wise men, and are so esteemed, sometimes think it beneath them to confess any degree of ignorance, but the really wise do not think that way at all; they are too well instructed to be ignorant of their own ignorance. Many men might have been wise if they had but been aware that they were fools. The knowledge of our ignorance is the doorstep of the temple of knowledge. Some think they know, and therefore never know. Had they known that they were blind, they would soon have been made to see, but because they say, "We see," therefore their blindness remains. Beloved hearer, do you want to find a Savior? Do you desire to have all your many sins forgiven? Do you want to be reconciled to God the Father through Jesus Christ? Then don't be ashamed to ask, admit that you don't know. How would you know if heaven doesn't teach you? How would any man attain the knowledge of divine things, unless it be given to him from above? We must all be taught of the Spirit of God, or be fools forever. To know that we need to be taught of the Holy Spirit is one of the first lessons that the Holy Spirit Himself teaches us. Admit that you need a guide, and diligently ask for one. Cry out to God to lead you, and He will be your instructor. Do not be proud and self-sufficient. Ask for heavenly light, and you will receive it. Isn't it better to ask God to teach you, than to trust you own unaided reason? Bow, then, the knee, confess your aptness to error, and say, "What I don't know, please teach me."
Notice, however, that the wise men were not content with admitting their ignorance, but in their case they "craved information."
I cannot tell where they began to ask. They thought it likeliest that Jesus would be known in the most important city. Wasn't He the King of the Jews? Wouldn't He be certain to be known in the Capital? They went, therefore, to Jerusalem. Perhaps they asked the guards at the gate, "Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews?" Truly the guards laughed and scorn them replying, "We know of no king but Herod." Then they met a drunkard in the streets, and said to him, "Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews?" and he answered, "What do I care about such a crazy question? I am looking for another drink." They asked a merchant, but he sneered, and said, "Never mind kings, what will you buy today?" "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?" they said to the Sadducee, the religious leader, and he replied, "Don't be so foolish as to talk in that way, or if you do, go call on my religious friend the Pharisee." They passed a woman in the streets, and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?" but she said, "My child is sick at home, I have enough to do to think of my poor baby; I don't care who is born, or who may die." Even though they couldn't find the answers to their questions, they were not content until they had learned all that could be known. They did not know at first where the newborn King was, but they used every means to find Him, and asked everyone they could think of for information. It is delightful to see the holy eagerness of a soul which God has aroused; it cries, "I must be saved; I know something of the way of salvation, I am grateful for that, but I don't know all I want to know, and I can't rest until I do. If beneath the canopy of heaven a Savior is to be found, then I will find Him; if the Bible can teach me how to be saved, I will turn its pages day and night; I will go without sleep if in the reading of that book I may find Christ my Savior. If there is one whose preaching has been blessed to the souls of others, then I will hang on his lips, if perhaps the Word may be blessed to me, for I must have Christ: it is not I may or I may not have Him, but I `must' have Him; my hunger is great for this bread of heaven, my thirst unquenchable for this Water of Life; tell me, Christians, tell me, wise men, tell me, good men, tell me of any of you who can tell, Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? For I must have Christ, and I long to have him now."
Notice further, that in reference to these wise men from the east, there was for their search after Christ "a declared motive."
"Where is He," they said, "We have come to worship him!" Oh, dear soul, if you seek for Christ, let it be your motive that you will be saved by Him, and that henceforth and forever you may live to His glory. When it comes to this, that you don't listen to the gospel merely as a habit, but because you long to receive its promised salvation, it will not be long before you will find it. When a man says, I am going to church today to hear the Word of God preached, and my heart's desire is that God will grant me His salvation," then he will not go there in vain. When a hearer can declare, "As soon as I take my seat in the congregation, my one thought is, "Lord, bless my soul this day?" he won't be disappointed.
Usually in going to church we get what we came for. Some come because it is a habit, some to meet a friend, some don't even know why; but when you know what you come for, the Lord who gave you the desire will gratify it. I was pleased with the word of a dear sister this morning when I came in the church; she said to me, "My dear sir, my soul is very hungry this morning. May the Lord give you bread for me." I believe that food is being given to her. When a sinner is very hungry for Christ, Christ is very near to him. The worst of it is, many of you don't come to find Jesus, it is not Him you are seeking for; if you were seeking for Him, He would soon appear to you. A young woman was asked during a revival, "How is it that you have not found Christ?" "Sir," she said, "I think it is because I have not been looking for Him." It is true. None will be able to say in the end, if I haven't found Jesus, it must be because He has not been devoutly, earnestly, relentlessly sought, for His promise is, "Seek, and you will find." These wise men are to us a model in many things--their motive was clear to them, and they frankly acknowledged it to others. May all of us seek Jesus that we may worship Him.
Continuously there was an intense earnestness displayed by the wise men, which we would delight to see in any who as yet have not believed in Jesus. Evidently they were not just curiosity seekers. They came a long way, they suffered a lot of fatigue, they spoke about finding the newborn King in a practical, common sense way; they were not put off with this rebuff or that; they desired to find Him, and they would find Him. It is most blessed to see the work of the Spirit in men's heart motivating them to long for the Savior to be their Lord and King; and to so long for Him that they will not accept defeat, thus they will leave no stone unturned, but by the Holy Spirit's help, they will be able to eventually say, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote--Jesus, and He has become our salvation."
Am I at this moment speaking to anybody in particular? I trust I am. Some years ago there was a young man, who, on a morning much like the one today--cold, snowy, dark--entered a church, as you have done today. I thought as I came here, this morning, of that young man. I said to myself, "This morning is so very forbidding that I will have a very small congregation, but perhaps among them there will be one like that young man." To be plain to you, it comforted me to think that the morning when God blessed my soul with His saving grace, the preacher had a very small congregation, and it was very cold and bitter, and therefore I said to myself this morning, "Why shouldn't I go merrily to my task, and preach if there should only be a dozen there?" for Jesus may intend to reveal Himself to someone as He did to me, and that someone may be a soul winner, and the means of the salvation of tens of thousands in years to come. I wonder if that will occur to that young man over there, for I trust he has the searching heart of the wise men on his lips. I trust he will not quench those desires which now burn within him, but rather may the spark be fanned into a flame, and may this day witness his decision for Jesus. Oh, has the Lord looked on that young woman, or on that dear child, or on that elderly man over there? I don't know who it may be, but I will indeed bless God this morning, if the cry from many lips this morning is, "Sir, what must I do to be saved? Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews?"
II. Having spoken of their inquiry, I will now notice THEIR ENCOURAGEMENT. Something encouraged these wise men to seek Jesus. It was this, "We saw His star."
Now, most of you who seek after Christ have a great encouragement in the fact that you have heard His gospel; you live in a land where you have the Scriptures, where Baptisms and the celebration of the Lord's Supper is freely accomplished. These are, as it were, Jesus Christ's star; they are meant to lead you to Him. Here, observe, that to see His star was a "great favor." It was not given to all the dwellers in the east or west to see His star. These men, therefore, were highly privileged. It is not given to all mankind to hear the gospel, Jesus is not preached in all of our churches; His cross is not lifted high even in every place that is dedicated to His worship. You are highly favored, O my friend, if you have seen the star, the gospel, which points to Jesus.
To see the star involved these wise men in "great responsibility." For, suppose they had seen His star and had not set out to worship Him, they would have been far more guilty than others, who, not having received such an indication from heaven, would not have been able to seek after it at all. Oh, think of the responsibility of some of you, who in your childhood heard of a Savior, for whom a mother has wept many tears; you know the truth, at least in theory; you have the responsibility of having seen His star.
The wise men "did not regard the favor of seeing the star as a matter to be content with." They did not say, "We have seen His star, and that is enough." Man says, "Well, we attend a place of worship regularly, isn't that enough?" There are those who say, "We were baptized, I am saved by baptism; we come to the Lord's Supper, and don't I get saving grace through it?" Poor souls! they mistake the star which leads wise people to Christ, as Christ Himself, and worship the star instead of the Lord. O may none of you ever be so foolish as to believe that Baptism or Communion saves you! God will say to you, if you depend on Baptism or the Lord's Supper or on going to church, "Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts?" What does God care about outward forms and ceremonies?
When I see men putting on gowns and vestments, and scarves and bands, and singing their prayers, and bowing and genuflecting, I wonder what sort of God it is that they worship. Surely he must have more affinity with the gods of the heathen than with the great Jehovah who has made the heavens and the earth. Mark well the exceeding glory of Jehovah's works on the land and the sea; behold the heavens and their countless hosts of stars, listen to the howling of the winds and the rush of the hurricane, think of Him who makes the clouds His chariot, and rides on the wings of the wind, and then consider whether this infinite God is like that being to whom it is a matter of grave consequence whether a cup of wine is lifted in worship as high as a man's hair or only as high as his nose! O foolish generation, to think that Jehovah is contained in your tabernacle made with hands, and that He cares for your vestments, your processions, your postures, and your genuflections. You fight over your ritual, even to the crossing of a "t" and the dotting of an "i". Surely you don't know the glorious Jehovah, if you conceive that these things yield any pleasure to Him. No, beloved, we desire to worship the Most High in all simplicity and earnest of spirit, and never to stop with the outward form, lest we be foolish enough to think that to see the star is sufficient, and therefore fail to find the incarnate God.
Note well, that these wise men "did not find satisfaction in what they had themselves done to reach the child." As we have observed, they may have come hundreds of miles, but they did not mention it; they did not sit down and say, "Well, we have journeyed across deserts, over hills, and across rivers, and now we are done." No, they must find the newborn King, nothing else would satisfy them. Do not say, dear hearer, "I have been praying now for months, I have been searching the Scriptures for weeks, to find the Savior." I am glad you have done so, but do not rest in it; you must get Christ, or else you will still perish in absolute torment after all your exertion and your trouble. You want Jesus, nothing more than Jesus, and nothing less than Jesus. Nor must you be satisfied with traveling in the way the star would lead you, you must reach HIM. Don't stop short of eternal life. Grab hold of it, don't merely seek for it and long for it, but grab hold of eternal life, and do not be content until it is an established fact with you that Jesus Christ is yours.
I would like you to notice how these wise men were not satisfied with merely getting to Jerusalem. They might have said, "Ah! Now we are in the land where the Child is born, we will be thankful and sit down." No, rather they ask, "Where is He?" He is born in Bethlehem. Well, they go to Bethlehem, but we don't find that when they reached that village they said, "This is a good spot, we will sit down here." Not at all, they wanted to know where the house was. They reached the house, and the star stopped over it. It was a awesome sight to see the cottage with the star above it, and to think that the newborn King was there, but that did not satisfy them. No, they went right into the house; they did not rest till they saw the Child Himself, and had worshipped Him. I pray that you and I may always be so led by the Spirit of God that we may never put up with anything short of a real comprehension of Christ as a Savior, as our Savior, as our Savior even now.
If there is one danger above another that the young seeker should strive against, it is the danger of stopping short of a unrestrained faith in Jesus Christ. While your heart is tender like wax, be careful that no seal but the seal of Christ is pressed on it. Now that you are uneasy and under conviction, make this your vow, "I will not be comforted until Jesus comforts me with His great salvation." It would be better for you never to be awakened than to be lulled to sleep by Satan--for a sleep that follows a partial conviction is generally a deeper slumber than any other that falls on the sons of men. Dear soul, I charge you to get the Blood of Christ, and be washed in it; find the life of Christ, and let that life be in you, that you would indeed become God's child; don't put up with suppositions, don't be satisfied with appearances and maybes; don't rest anywhere until you have said--God having given you the faith to say it, "He loved me and gave Himself for me, He is my complete salvation and all my desire." See, then, how these wise men were not kept away from Christ by the star, but they were encouraged by it to come to Christ, and you be encouraged too, dear seeker, this morning to come to Jesus by the fact that you are blessed with the gospel. You have an invitation given to you to come to Jesus, you have the movements of God's Spirit on your conscience, awakening you; O come, come and welcome, and let this dark winter's day be a day of brightness and of gladness to many a seeking soul.
I have turned my thoughts on this last part into verse, and I will repeat the lines,
O where is Christ my King? I long for the sight, I would fall to my knees worshipping, For He's my soul's delight.
Himself, Himself alone, I seek no less, no more, Or on His cross, or on His throne, I'd equally adore.
The wise men saw His star, But would not be content, The way was rough, the distance far, Yet on that way they went,
And now my thoughts discern, The sign that Christ is near, With unquenchable love I burn, To enjoy His company.
No star nor heavenly sign, My soul's desire can fill, For Him, my Lord, my King divine, my soul is thirsting still.
III. And now we will conclude, by considering THE EXAMPLE of these wise men.
They came to Jesus, and in so doing, they did three things: they saw, they worshipped, they gave. Those are three things which every believer here may do this morning over again, and which every seeker should do for the first time.
First "they saw" the young Child.
I don't think they merely said, "There He is," and so ended the matter, but they stood still and looked. Perhaps for some time they did not speak. I would imagine that around the face of the infant Jesus was a supernatural beauty. Whether there was a beauty to everyone's eye I don't know, but to theirs there was assuredly a superhuman attraction. The incarnate God! They gazed with all their eyes. They looked, and looked, and looked again. They glanced at His mother, but they fixed their eyes on Him. "They saw the Child."
So, too, this morning let us think of Jesus with fixed and continuous thought. He is God, He is man, He is the substitute for sinners; He is willing to receive all who trust Him. He will save, and save this morning, everyone of us who will put their faith and trust in Him. Think of Him. If you are at home this afternoon, spend the time in thinking of Him. Bring Him before your mind's eye, consider and admire Him. Is it not a wonder that God would enter into union with man and come to this world as an infant? He who made heaven and earth nurses on a woman's breast for us! For our redemption the Word was made flesh. This truth will breed the brightest hope within your soul. If you follow that baby's wondrous life till it ends at the cross, I trust you may there be able to give such a look at Him that, like as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, and they that looked were healed, so you looking may be healed of all your spiritual diseases. Though it has been many years since I first looked at Him, I desire to look to Jesus again. The incarnate God! My eyes swim with tears to think that He who might have crushed me into hell forever, becomes a young child for my sake! Look at Him, all of you, and looking--then worship.
What did the wise men do next? They "worshipped" Him.
We cannot properly worship a Christ we do not know. "To the unknown God" is poor worship. But, oh, when you think of Jesus Christ, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times, the eternal Son of the Father, and then see Him coming here to be a man formed in the womb of a woman, and know and understand why He came and what He did when he came, then you will fall down and worship Him. "
Son of God, to You we bow, You are Lord, and only You; You the woman's promised seed; You who did for sinners bleed."
We worship Jesus. Our faith sees Him go from the manger to the cross, and from the cross right up to the throne, and there where God the Father dwells, amidst the unendurable glory of the divine presence stands the man, the very man who slept at Bethlehem in the manger; there He reigns as Lord of lords. Our souls worship Him again. You are our Prophet, every Word You speak, Jesus, we believe and desire to follow: You are our priest, Your sacrifice has made us clean, we are washed in Your Blood; You are our King, command, and we will obey, lead on, and we will follow: We worship You. We should spend a lot of time in worshipping the Christ, and He should always have the highest place in our reverence.
After worshipping, the wise men presented "their gifts."
One opened his box of gold, and laid it at the feet of the newborn King. Another presented frankincense--one of the precious products of the country from which they came; and another laid myrrh at the Redeemer's feet; all these they gave to prove the truth of their worship. They gave substantial offerings. And now, after you have worshipped Christ in your soul, and seen Him with the eye of faith, give Him yourself, give Him your heart, give Him all that you are and own. Why, you will not be able to keep from doing it. He who really loves the Savior in his heart, cannot help devoting to Him his life, his strength, his all. With some people, when they give Christ anything, or do anything for Him, it is very difficult and somewhat forced. They say, "The love of Christ ought to compel us." I don't know of any such text as that in the Bible, however, I do remember one text that says, "Christ's love compels us." If it does not compel us, it is because it is not in us. It is not merely a thing which ought to be, it must be. If any man loves Christ, he will soon be finding ways and means of proving his love by his sacrifices. Go home, Mary, and get the alabaster box, and poor the ointment on His head, and if any say, "Why this waste?" you will have a good answer, you have had many sins forgiven by Him, and therefore you love Him greatly. If you have gold, then give it; if you have frankincense, then give it; if you have myrrh, then give it to Jesus; if you don't have any of these things, give Him your love, all of your love, and that will be gold and spices all in one; give Him your tongue, speak of Him; give Him your hands, work for Him; give Him your whole self. I know you will, for He loved you, and gave Himself for you. The Lord bless you, and may this Christmas morning be a very memorable day to many of you assembled here today. I am surprised to see so vast a number present, and I can only hope the blessing will be in proportion, for Jesus' sake. Amen.
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Matthew 2". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26