At the birth of Christ, some men came from the east because they knew He had been born. Many versions refer to them as “Magi,” “…originally applied exclusively to members of a priestly caste of the Medes and Persian who had esoteric skills in interpreting dreams. However, the use of the word broadened to embrace various categories of persons who were marked out by their superior knowledge and ability, including astrologers, soothsayers, and even oriental sages” (Nolland, NIGTC, 108). Whatever their secular aptitudes, they are memorialized as some of the greatest worshippers of Deity of any time period. What was it about their worship that made it great and worthy of our imitation today?
First, it was planned (Mat. 2:2). Upon seeing “His” star, the magi came to Jerusalem seeking Jesus. Persia, which is modern-day Iran, is more than 1000 miles at its center to Jerusalem. Given the much slower rate of travel in ancient times, these men, who might well have had a large entourage in tow, did not arrive at the place of worship haphazardly. What an example for us. We may not have very far to travel in our cars to attend a worship service, but do we plan for it–our minds and bodies by proper rest, meditation and preparation?
Further, it was praise-filled (Mat. 2:10). The star guided them to the place where Jesus was. The prospect of coming into Jesus’ presence caused them to rejoice “exceedingly with great joy.” No hint of apathy, drudgery, or dread! Apparently, there was no place they would rather have been. What an example for us today!
Their worship was prostrated (Mat. 2:11a). “They fell to the ground and worshipped Him.” The posture is not bound on us–as worshippers are apparently upright in other settings–but the disposition of heart that drove them to the ground is! When we realize just who we are worshipping, it will draw our deepest reverence and praise. Our Maker and Redeemer allows us to come into His presence to worship Him.
Finally, their worship was productive (Mat. 2:11). It was active and involved. They fell, worshiped, opened, and presented. What a reminder that worship requires active participation and is not a spectator sport. We benefit from worship, but that is derived from our full engagement and effort to honor Almighty God.
Sadly, some of what is packaged and presented as worship falls short of what we see in this text. If we want to be truly wise, we will demonstrate the kind of heart and action modeled by the Magi. Let us worship like wise men (and women)!