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“We might be wise to follow the insight of the enraptured heart rather than the more cautious reasoning of the theological mind.” ―
The previous post explored the earnestness of the shepherds and Simeon in seeking their King, Jesus. These seekers demonstrated a commitment that can only be described as being “all in.” The Magi from the east were also seeking the King. Their story is found in Matthew 2:1-12 “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 of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.”
The Magi knew that this king would be like no other and had traveled an enormous distance and spent an enormous amount to make this journey. They knew that they were seeking the great King over kings. When they found the Child, they paid homage worthy of a great king, and gave gifts of the rarest and most costly value. They were all in. They left all behind and spent everything to seek and honor the King.
Yet these Magi were not the only ones in the Gospels who were seeking their King. All through the earthly sojourn of Jesus, people would seek for Him. Those who followed Jesus were many, but those who truly sought Him as their King and Lord were few. Yet these left all behind to pursue their King. They were willing to lose their own living in their seeking. They were rewarded with a higher, greater life in union with their King. Many of these gave their lives in the quest to follow their King. What is clear is that once these followers understood who Jesus really was and what it meant to have Him as their King, they too were all in.
All throughout the history of the church there has been a common thread, a continual presence of those who were all in so they might seek the King. It cost them dearly, yet those who did so were glad to pay any price in their pursuit. This “pilgrim church” has often been persecuted even by those who claim to follow Christ. They were rejected as outcasts and disruptive influences. They incurred the wrath of non-believers as well, as they still do today.
The world is quite hostile to those who truly seek their King. There are many places where those who truly seek Him are persecuted, imprisoned, and killed for doing so. Egypt, Algeria, the Sudan, Nigeria, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, India, Nepal, Tibet, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Viet Nam, North Korea, the Chiappas region in Mexico, and many more. In these lands those seeking their King die daily at the hands of governments and citizens alike. Yet this pilgrim church continues strong and vibrant. They are all in.
Christmas has come and gone for 2019, and here in North America it came with no fear of reprisal, retaliation, losing our jobs, or losing our lives because we did so. It is not so in most of the countries mentioned above. Yet in each of those countries, true seekers of the King are joyous even in the face of imprisonment, beatings or even death.
What is it about seeking and finding Jesus, truly knowing and understanding Him, that prompts people to be all in? To leave everything and give up anything to seek for and pursue Him? To be joyful in the seeking even under the harshest of persecution? Clearly, there is something about being all in that is transformational, that transcends any kind of life we can generate on our own.
The Christmas story points to our Savior Who was “all in” in His mission to save us and restore us to union with our God. The story is populated with people who in response to this Savior were “all in” with Him. This prompts us to ask ourselves the tough questions. At what level is my commitment to seek the King? The seekers of whom we spoke were all in, but am I? They in their seeking had forsaken all to pursue their King. Have I forsaken all to pursue Him?
If the answer is no, then could it be that I have yet to truly encounter the full reality of this King?