December 18 – 4th Sunday in Advent

Week 4 Theme:  WORSHIP 

Title: Come, let us worship the King

Text: Matthew 2:2,10-11 ~~ “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed; when they saw the child … they bowed down and worshiped him…they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.”

Scripture Reading:  Matthew 2:1-12; Romans 12:1-2

Reflection:  Worship was very much integral in the life of one who believes in God in Scripture. In the eastern culture (both Middle-East and Far East), the cultural and geographical context in which Scripture was written, belief in God and worship of God were intertwined. God outlined His expectations of worship to align with our profession of faith in Him.   However, do we, professing Christians in the 21st century, understand what “worship” practically means in daily living other than referring to “worship services”?   As we conclude our Advent meditations this week, we see that Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus reveals some important and insightful details around worship. In fact, they shed light on why Jesus is worthy of our worship. Come along with me as we delve into history and uncover how God the Creator orchestrates His creation to reveal who He is and why we need to worship Him.

In Matthew’s record, he documents that magi from the east come seeking for the one who has been born the King of the Jews.  Who were these magi? How did they know to seek for a child with a royal title?  About 500 years earlier, in Daniel’s account, “magi” is noted about 14 times. So, we know that magi were known in both Babylonian and Persian cultures. They were essentially Gentiles (non-Jews). They were advisors to kings, consulted for their knowledge and interpretation of the stars and celestial signs. As such, they were notably wise providing counsel and insight. Matthew indicates that there were at least two, if not more, magi traveling from the east. Being who they were, the magi knew the period of time when this King would be born. Having studied the stars, they knew to follow this specific star in the east. Scripture tells us they saw “his star”, which revealed specifically the birth of the King of the Jews. They knew they had to follow it and worship Him!  God revealed to Gentiles the King of the Jews as someone worthy of worship and faith!  How God works to reveal plans, places, people, and purposes are not always easy to comprehend but we cannot deny that He does.

According to Matthew’s account, we know that the star led them to Jerusalem and stopped there when they encountered Herod.  Then, the star resumed leading them (v. 9) and miraculously stopped right over Jesus’ house.  God used what the magi studied and believed to be true in the stars and led them to Himself! Only God the Creator could do this!! The fact that God revealed Jesus to Gentiles at that time in history, when Jews were living among them, shows God’s desire and plan for them to know Jesus as well.

When the magi saw Jesus, they were thrilled, bowing down and worshiped Him. The physical posture of bowing before another demonstrates reverence, respect, submission, and acknowledgement of the other’s power and rule. Having been exposed to eastern cultures personally, the physical posture is pervasive attesting to how the practice of worship is integrated into daily living. While these cultures, my own background included, are focused on people and even other divine deities, none of these gods has revealed the divine, infinite love of our God that draws people to Himself. None of them has demonstrated humility and sacrifice for the people so that they would know Him personally (Romans 5:8). None of them has come to be among the people He created to show them the way to God as Jesus did (Philippians 2:6-11). Only Jesus, sent by God the Father, has demonstrated all of this, making Him incomparable to other deities and religions. He is worthy of our worship because His government will not end, reigning on David’s throne, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness forever.  He is Mighty God, Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, and Love (Isaiah 9:6; John 3:16).

Response:  This coming week, wherever you are, think about God’s tremendous gift of hope and redemption in Jesus. He came that anyone who believes in Him will have eternal life, forgiveness, and wholeness.  God, in His infinite love, came for everyone – Your background, experience, race, education, social status, identity do not matter to God. You matter. When you release your questions and fears to Him, He begins a whole new work in our lives to transform us for eternity. No religion can promise and deliver this. Only Jesus. He is worthy of your faith and your worship. Will you surrender your life to Him and worship Him?

Prayer:  Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus into this world for me, for others who have not heard of you, and for those who think they know you but have not surrendered their lives to you. Help me and others to learn to worship you by giving you control over our lives. You gave up your rights for me and for the world. Take all of me; take over my will. May I never forget your love, your grace, and your infinite wisdom in how you powerfully draw people to you and how you use your creation to draw us to worship you.  In the name of Jesus who is worthy of my daily worship, AMEN!

Written by Irene Prabhu Das, PhD