Imagine a big birthday being thrown in your honor. All friends and family will be there with the presents, cake, balloons, and streamers. A few of your friends who are musicians make come songs about. It is being billed as the party of the decade. On the morning of your birthday, you realize that no one invited you. You give your friends the benefit of the doubt that it must have been a simple oversight. You decide to go to the house that evening to find the house alive with laughter, music, and excitement. Imagine knocking on the door and waiting for it to open. No one comes. After a while, you try the doorbell. Same result. After a few minutes feeling dejected, you turn to walk away from the very party that is being thrown in your honor. This is the picture of how many live in the Christmas season. They enjoy all the lights, trees, and gifts but never invite Jesus to be the center of their celebration. Jesus, the only begotten Son, becomes the most forgotten Son in the Christmas season.
This is why we must unclutter our lives and place Jesus at the center of His party. In Matthews account of the birth of Jesus (Matthew 2:1-12), we see four groups of people that did not unclutter their hearts and missed Jesus completely.
- Inn Keeper: The innkeeper did not make room for Jesus in the Inn or their heart. Business was at an all-time high and they were making a lot of money. There were hundreds of people coming into town to pay their taxes. Mary got there late and there was no room at the Inn. They were full, or they may have not liked Joseph/Mary’s socio-economic status. The Inn Keeper was caught up in the enticements and cares of this world and missed the opportunity to have Jesus Himself into his house. The Inner Keeper was distracted.
- King Herod: King Herod was an egotistical, highly educated political control freak. He did not want to relinquish control. He was so concerned with the idea of losing something that he missed gaining the only thing that mattered. He was so paranoid that he killed all the first-born boys under the age of 2 in Bethlehem. He refused to let go of control and this is how many live today. Out of his control, King Herod refused to let go.
- Town People: The average population of Bethlehem was 500-1000 people at the time of Jesus’ birth. There were around 200-300 visiting due to the census. The Messiah was right there to answer all of their questions, but they didn’t even know He was there.
- Religious Leaders: The religious leaders were the most educated men of their day on the Scriptures. They were praying for centuries for the Messiah to come and they knew the prophecies made about Him. The problem was they had a lot of truth but no heart. They had religious actions but no relationship. At the report of the Messiah being born 6 miles South of them in Bethlehem, they wouldn’t even take time to see if the report was true. They were looking for a different kind of Messiah. They wanted Messiah on their terms.
Do you see yourself in one of these four categories this Christmas season? You would be wise to learn from their lives and unclutter to engage with Jesus this Christmas season.
There is a fifth group of people that did unclutter their lives to know Jesus. They uncluttered and gave their full attention to Jesus. Jeremiah 29:13–14 captures their response to the Messiah when saying, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14I will be found by you, declares the Lord.”The response of the wise men represents the fifth category of people. The wise men were truth seekers schooled not only in astronomy but also in astrology. They did not find the answers they were looking for in life and in their cultic practices. But it is apparent that they were seeking the truth. God actually revealed himself to them in a special way.
Three things we can learn from the wise men’s worship:
- Expectant Worship.
Matthew 2:2 says, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” The wise men came expecting something to happen when they entered the presence of the King. These men came to Jerusalem for the sole purpose of worship. Worship was why they left their homeland. Worship was why they brought their treasure. Worship was why they journeyed. Worship was at the heart of everything we see them doing and how they respond. They had their hearts set on coming before the Lord Jesus to worship Him.
The wise men came about from around 1000 miles away in Egypt on the back of the best Persian horses, not camels. Their journey took them through tremendously difficult terrain over 9 months and would have had to have a security force to protect them and their riches. We don’t know for sure how many there were, but we know there were at least two. Tradition holds that there were three, one for each gift they brought the Jesus. The word magi are where we get our word magic. They were magicians, sorcerers, astrologers, and could have been believers in Jehovah from Daniels prophecy years before (Daniel 9). At this time, the line was blurred between occult experiments and legitimate science.
When the Magi arrived in Bethlehem, Jesus was around 18-24 months old. They came from a great distance and paid a great cost all to worship Jesus. They came with great expectation. The word expectation can be defined as, “A strong belief that something will happen.” When was the last time you came into worship with this level of expectation? If the wise men made that much effort to get into his presence, why don’t you make even a little effort? You should have an excitement about coming together entering into His presence.
- Expressive Worship.
Matthew 2:10–11 says, “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him.” At the sight of this toddler, the wealthy and intelligent men of their day, “rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.” The Bible could have said they had joy but in fact, it uses emphatic expressive language that means exuberant excitement. Can you see them shouting, jumping, laughing, crying and hugging? They were overwhelmed with excitement at the prospect of seeing Jesus. It is a model of how our worship should look. Psalm 47:1 says, “Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!” Psalm 95:1, “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!” Psalm 134:2says, “Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord!” When is the last time your worship looked like this? This is the Biblical response of a person that knows they are loved by God.
But that is not all. We see these sophisticated professor types “fell down and worshiped Him.” To fall down means to fall down violently and be shattered. It is the word picture of a building collapsing. This is what the wise men did. They walked into a house, saw a toddler, and fell down violently and were shattered in His presence. It wouldn’t be a bad idea if you now and again fell down and allowed ourselves to be shattered in worship.
- Extravagant Worship.
Matthew 2:11 (b) says, “Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense, and myrrh.” The gifts the wise men brought Jesus had great prophetic significance. The gold was for royalty, frankincense for divinity, and myrrh for humanity. Myrrh was used to anoint a dead body which represented Jesus death for the sin of mankind. These were the three best resources in all of Persia. The wise men brought their best in worship. Do you bring your best when you come to worship or do distractions keep you from devoted worship to the King? Do you just go through your quiet time or do you set your mind on things above (Colossians 3:2)?
The worship of the wise men was extravagant. They uncluttered their lives to worship Him in a wholehearted manner. They had the same heart as the sinful woman that, “learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment” (Luke 7:37-38). This Christmas season will you unclutter your life to come to the Messiah expectantly? Will you align your heart with the wise men’s to express your worship extravagantly? Wise men still seek Him.