A new star. Ancient scrolls. Legends of a rising king handed down through generations of wise men from a revered, transplanted sage. These components got the wise men so far, but not far enough. The capital city seemed like a logical destination to visit a new Hebrew king, but considering the lack of public response, no one seemed to know what they were talking about.
Can you imagine the disappointment as they returned to their caravan? The time. The expense. The questions they would face when they returned from their failed expedition. While they processed their dead end, unseen factors were at work.
Enter the Roman appointed, jealous, paranoid, murderous, spiritually and ancestrally illegitimate king, Herod.
If you are the current sovereign over a region, chances are you wouldn’t take kindly to news of a new ruler. And so it was with Herod.
Trouble was brewing in Jerusalem. Rounding up the religious leaders, Herod asks them where the Christ was to be born. Quoting the prophet Micah, they inform Herod that the birthplace in question is Bethlehem. So, Herod summons the wise men, gets an age estimation and then sends them off with instructions to relay their findings so he can worship too. Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink.
Let’s pause for a moment and let that sink in. Humanly speaking, who directed the wise men to ultimately find and worship the Christ child?
“And Herod summoned the wise men secretly… And he sent them to Bethlehem…”
Herod did. The man who executed multiple close family members because they were a threat to his reign. The man who would later reveal his true intentions by slaughtering all male toddlers and babies in the Bethlehem area. Yet God worked through Herod’s evil intentions to facilitate a meeting between honest seekers and the Savior of the world.
The encouragement for us is this: Sometimes God uses beautiful things like angels and starlight to draw people to Christ. But in his glorious sovereignty, God can redeem the sinful brokenness of fallen people and subject even that to his purposes. What can that look like?
Sometimes, it’s not until we know the despair of feeling hopelessly lost that we’re actually ready to be found.
Sometimes, it’s not until we recognized that we’re enslaved by the things we though were our expressions of freedom, that we are we truly ready to be free.
Sometimes it’s not until we suffer at the hands of someone’s godless behaviour that we understand how good and perfect God’s designs are, and are ready to yield to them because we know the carnage inflicted by those who don’t.
If God is drawing you through angels and starlight – rejoice! If God is drawing you out of sorrow and suffering – rejoice! Why? Because regardless of which path we journey, once on the other side of discovering Jesus Christ, nobody cares how we found Him. We’re too busy being glad we did.
This devotional series is inspired by the children’s book, The Christmas Quest.
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