Tuesday, January 8, 2019
The Light to Find the Savior
Ever since our first parents sinned and were banished from the Garden, people have been trying to find their way back to God. We go looking for Him, and because of our sin, we look for Him where we think He should be, where we want Him to be. There are countless ways we’ve tried to find and reach God. Over the centuries, countless religions have popped up claiming to have the right path to God, or to some sort of god they’ve made up. But none of these are true. None lead to our Savior. Only the light of God’s Word can direct us to Him. He’s only found where He promises to be.
Today is Epiphany and we remember the Wise Men, the Magi, who came seeking Jesus, the newborn King. We don’t know a whole lot about these men. We don’t know where they came from, only that they came from the east. We don’t know how many there were. We say there were three, but that’s only because they brought three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The only thing we know for certain is that they saw a star and they knew it meant the King of the Jews was born.
They knew this because somehow they knew OT prophecy. Nu 24:17 says: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel. How they came to know and understand this Scripture, we don’t know. Matthew only tells us that they came looking for the King, to bring Him gifts and to worship Him.
The magi went to where they expected a king to be, the palace in Jerusalem. This where a king should be. A king should be born in a palace. He should be in the place where his throne is; a place of grandeur and wealth; a place of power. This makes sense. If you and I wanted to see the Queen of England, we’d go to Buckingham Palace, not some small apartment in London. But the newborn King was to be found in the palace.
Like the Wise Men, we search for God, we search for Christ where we expect Him to be, where we want Him to be. We want Him to be in a place of grandeur and power, and so that’s where we look. We’ve searched for Him in our culture and material things. We hope to find peace in these. If we just follow in the footsteps of the world around us, keeping in-line with its ideologies, claiming all religions are equal and the same, letting everyone do and believe as they want without saying a word, then at least we’ll be okay. We can go through life without any trouble, without suffering any sort of persecution for our faith. If we just have the right technologies, the right career, the right home, the right amount of money, then everything will be fine. We’ll be able to live a pleasant life without any need. We’ll be happy…and ultimately, that’s where we want God to be.
We want God to be in our happiness. We want Christ to make us feel good, to give us an easy life here on earth. That’s where we want to find Him, because that’s all we really want.
We want a Savior who rescues us from the mundane. We want a Savior who lifts us up from the low points, the valleys of life and brings us to the mountaintop, who makes us feel good all the time. We want a Savior who lets us do what makes us happy, even if that happiness comes from sin. But this isn’t the Savior we need. This isn’t the Savior that Jesus is. He isn’t a therapist whose goal is to make us feel good. He doesn’t save us from unhappiness, He saves us from sin and death.
When the Wise Men came to the palace, Herod called in the chief priests and scribes and asked them where the Christ was to be born. These men searched the Scripture. The prophet Micah proclaimed the birth place of our Savior: But you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel” (Mt 2:6; cf Mic 5:2). Bethlehem, that small town just a few miles south of Jerusalem, was the place of the King’s birth. This was an unexpected place to find a king, but it was the promised place.
The Wise Men left Herod and followed the Scripture and star, and they found Jesus where God promised He would be. They found Him in a house in Bethlehem with Mary and they worshipped Him, giving Him gifts fit for a king.
The Wise Men had to be directed to this unexpected place to find Jesus. If they were left to their own devices, they’d never have found the Lord. God had to reveal Him to them. He had to direct them, by the light of the star, by the light of Scripture. And this is the same for you and me.
We’d be lost without the light of Scripture. Without the Holy Spirit, we’d never find our Savior or believe in Him. We’d continue to look for Him in all the wrong places. We’d continue to search for Him in our culture and material things. We’d continue to look for Him inside ourselves, in our feelings of happiness. But all of this searching will fail. It’s only by the light of God’s Word that we know where our Savior is, where He has promised to be.
He is here, in this place, in His Church, where His Word is spoken by His pastors. He is here, in this place, in His Church, where ordinary looking water washes away your sins. He is here, in this place, in His Church, feeding you a foretaste of the feast to come in the bread and wine that are His body and blood. He is here, in this place, in His Church, giving you the everlasting life He won on the cross. Christ is exactly where He promises to be. We don’t have to go searching for Him, for He has come to us, He has come to you, to save you.
Christ didn’t come with the grandeur of a king. He came to you in a lowly manner, born in a humble stable so that He might do what needed to be done to save you, not from unhappiness, but from sin and death. In an unexpected way, Jesus rescues you from sin and death with His death on the cross. And the salvation He won for you there, He gives to you here. It may not look spectacular or kingly as we think, but it is His promise. Here in this place, your King comes to you.
The magi went looking for Jesus where they thought a king should be found, in a palace. But the Word of God directed them to the right place. We too look for God, we look for Christ where we think He should be, where we want Him to be. We want Him to be in grandeur. We want Him to be in earthly happiness, but we won’t find Him there, because that’s not where He promised to be. Your King has promised to be where His Word is proclaim and His Sacraments given. So come here to this place. Come here and worship Him. Come here and receive your King. In Jesus’ name...Amen.