In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.
Read Matthew 2: 1-12
You might be thinking…why are we reading about the visit of the Magi on our journey to Easter? For one simple reason: to remember and give thanks, and with awe and wonder. We recall with delight the marvelous ways the wise men found their way to Jesus, and being overjoyed with their discovery “bowed down and worshiped him.” Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts.
In the stillness of the night the wise men followed the star with delight, and what they found brought complete joy to their hearts. Similarly, when all who are seeking Jesus find him, no matter if they are shepherds or magi, business leaders or college educators, homemakers or pastors, their souls are filled up with everlasting love only Jesus can deliver. And, in the midst of the moment, they can’t help but offer back to him with outstretched arms the fullness of their lives.
Think about it for a moment…who else brought Jesus extravagant gifts in response to God’s outstretched arms of love extended to earth’s inhabitants in the life of Jesus? For the Magi, they knew he was someone extra special, a child sent from heaven “as the king of the Jews” and they did everything possible; even defy King Herod, to be near the baby Jesus when he was born in Bethlehem in Judea, just as the prophet Micah had foretold.
So, imagine the scene for yourself. You are living in the time of King Herod and word comes to you that your king has been born in a manger, under the bright sky of winter. You pack up all your belongings and make sure you have a splendid gift to share with the child and his family. You travel over hill and dale to the place where the Christ child lays freshly newborn, still nursing and finding breath and life in the loving arms of his beloved parents. What is your response in this amazing encounter with the Christ child? Are you still in awe and wonder as you prepare to watch him head now to the cross?
This Lenten season, may I be so bold to encourage you toward spontaneous responses in worship, such as repentance and joy? And, in your interactions with others, to be generous with grace, mercy, forgiveness, and even tangible gifts of love? Each time I consider the waiting and watching of the Magi, followed by their journey to find Jesus, and then their response of gift giving, I’m struck by the contrast with my own life. How much of my life is consumed (or not) by anticipation of Jesus’ arrival in the everydayness of my existence? How willing am I to give back to him and others extravagantly, in the manner in which Jesus has given to me?
Behold him with awe…believe in him once more…belong to his tribe with firm resolve…and, become a generous lover, forgiver, and reconciler. May it be so!