“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.” – Matthew 2:1-2.
Ah, the wise men. No nativity play would be complete without the three wise men. They are portrayed as wealthy men coming from the east, dressed in richly colorful garments with beautiful turbans, riding in on camels, looking for the newborn King. We don’t know a lot about them, but the details are not as important as the message.
There are a number of lessons we can learn from the wise men. For example, the wise men show us how to be willing to accept God on His terms, not on ours. When the wise men found Jesus, He was far from what they must have been expecting. They likely expected to find the newborn king in a palace, not in a stable; wrapped in royal clothes, not in swaddling clothes; surrounded by staff and attendants, not animals and shepherds. Yet when they found Him as He was, they didn’t turn back. They were willing to let their own perceptions be changed by God rather than to fit God into their own perceptions.
They needed to change their ideas about power, about God, about man — in short, they had to come to grips with the fact that God’s ways are not as we imagine them or as we might wish them to be. Likewise each of us today must learn God’s ways and how to conform our ways to His.
We all have expectations when it comes to God. And what happens is rarely what we expect. God has His own plan and it’s often different from mine and always better. I might expect Him to give me answers on a question I have, and instead, He just gives me more to think about. I might expect Him to guide me to a specific route He wants me to take in my life, but instead, He reminds me to seek Him first just as the wise men did. I might expect Him to take my setbacks and trials away, but He instead just tells me to trust Him and wait patiently. I might expect Him to help me in one area, but He helps me in a completely different part of my life. Whatever it is, Jesus has it under control. So when we come to Him, we should learn to expect the unexpected and accept Him on His terms rather than ours.
It is important to have our view of God right, to see Him as He really is. Only then will we be able recognize what’s true around us and what is false. Our salvation is not just in jumping through some religious hoops or praying for things the way we want them, but in actually learning to follow Him as He draws us into His orbit and teaches us how to live in His ways.
- If you were one of the wise men, how do you think you would have reacted when you saw the king you sought was a child?
- What does it mean to accept God on His terms rather than our terms?