SEARCH OF THE WISE Matthew 2:1-11

A brief communion meditation at the St. James' Anglican Wednesday Morning Student service, December 12, 1984
by Robert Brow (

The story of the wise men is one of the best loved stories of Christmas. It has a lot of embellishments. We don't know how many of these men came. We don't know if they walked, rode horses, or walked all the way. All Matthew records is that "In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea. wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the child who has been born King?" (Matthew 2:1-2). We don't even know what countries they came from: Iran, Arabia, Afghanistan, India, Tibet? We don't know if they were Magi, Astrologers, Wise Men, Prophets or Priests, In the Middle Ages names were invented for them, Melchior, Gaspar, Balthazzar. But we love the story because it is a powerful image of faith.

You see faith is a search. Faith is a direction of movement. It is not the result of a proof. There is no mathematical or even scientific certainty. It begins with a vision, a hope of finding what is supremely important. But what is interesting in their story is that they already had the gifts with them. Gifts that expressed what they were looking for. If they found it, this is what they wanted to give.

Gold is a suitable gift for royalty, and they told Herod that they were looking for a child who was born to be King. Faith is looking for a Kingdom. Earthly rulers promise much, but they eventually fail us. Already Herod the Great had decided on murder. Any who might threaten his power had to be eliminated. We love our own country, but we know it has intolerable faults. It is not suited for eternal life.

Frankincense is used in worship. In the law of Moses it was written, "When anyone presents a grain offering to the LORD, the offering shall be of choice flour; the worshiper shall pour oil on it, and put frankincense on it" (Leviticus 2:1). Frankincense was part of the sacred incense that pictured the prayers of the tabernacle (Exodus 30:22-36). So our spiritual search includes looking for the one that we can worship, adore, pray to with confidence.

Myrrh was an ingredient of a perfume used by lovers. In the Son of Solomon the girl says "My beloved is a bag of myrrh that lies between my breasts." But myrrh was also used as a burial spice. It was put in Jesus burial shroud. It suggested that the best of human love inevitably had to end with death. There must be something more that God has in mind.

The search of the wise men ended when they found a King who was willing to enter our life as a baby. And your search ends when it dawns on you that the baby you will be celebrating over Christmas is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He reigns among the nations, and welcomes you to serve in his Kingdom.

So as you come and take communion this morning, tell him you want to give him the gold, and frankincense, and myrrh of your devotion. He will accept it with joy, and give you himself.

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