“When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”
– Matthew 2.10
In addition to serving us and having a relationship with us, God also provides for the things we need. He has been working since before the foundation of the world to save people from sin, knowing we were going to need salvation even before we existed. He knew that by giving free will there was the distinct possibility (really a certainty) that we would make bad choices. He chose to redeem us and save us instead of destroying us, and is remaking us into the image of his son, Jesus.
We should be overjoyed that God not only considers us but also lets nothing stop his plan of salvation, and he stops at nothing to bring about the good things he planned for us. The salvation of our souls has been the guiding aim of history since the beginning of time. When people truly understand and believe this, we should overflow with joyfulness not only at the time the plan is fulfilled, but each time it is fulfilled. Like the angels who rejoice in heaven over the single person who comes back to the Lord (Luke 15.10), we too should have our hearts filled with joy every time someone turns away from sin and death and comes back to the Lord and to eternal life.
Faithful people throughout time, even Gentiles, have rejoiced when they saw the salvation of God. The rejoicing men in Matthew 2.10 are not Hebrews. They did not have all of the advantages that people like David had enjoyed. They did not have the law and the prophets to help guide them to a clear understanding of truth, justice, righteousness, grace and forgiveness. They did not have the character of God explained and shown to them clearly in the Bible, like we do today. Yet, they searched diligently and found out all that was needed in order to know that a child was going to be born King of kings and Lord of lords; they searched until they knew the time and the season of his coming, and they rejoiced greatly when they saw the star indicating the time and place of his birth. Their joy was not earthly; it wasn’t temporary, and it wasn’t easy to come by. They had to choose their path each day and they searched and sought for the salvation that God was bringing to mankind. They had to give up spending time on earthly things to put time where it belonged: on spiritual things. They had to make sacrifices. They had to leave homeland and move to the place where God was leading them. We must be willing to do these things, too, if we want to share in their joyfulness. If we want the joy that comes with knowing Jesus, then we have to be willing to pay the price, which is really no price at all. We must be willing to leave the things of the world behind and press on further to the things that come from heaven. We must be willing to spend more time seeking for the Lord than the lusts that life has to offer.
The source of this joy is our love for God and our appreciation for his great mercy and grace. The greatest gift is the grace of God. It is God’s grace which enables us to find life in Jesus, the forgiveness of the Father through his son, and the truth revealed to us by the Spirit. If we aren’t focused on these things, then we will never have the joyfulness of the wise men. We will never have the joy that filled to overflowing.
It comes to this then: we must choose to be a people who are joyful. It will not happen by itself and it will not happen by chance. It is a way of life that must be chosen, a pathway that must be taken. This is why many people fail to find the joy that comes in Jesus: they wait for it to happen to them. They become a Christian and then wait for joy to find them. Brothers and sisters, friends and seekers, it doesn’t work that way! Imagine how different the story would have been if the wise men had stayed home, back east, and waited for the star to come to them. “We will stay here where our flesh is comfortable and where everything is familiar, and we will wait for the king to come to us.” It didn’t work that they way then, and it doesn’t work that way now. They found their joy when they went looking for Jesus. We, too, will find our joy when we stop sitting and start searching for Jesus and following the way he is leading us. He is “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14.6), which means that we have some getting and some going to do. If we want to find joy, then we need to follow Jesus.
Let us be those people who seek and strive to find and follow Jesus no matter the cost.
Father, please help us to have enough faith to move our feet after the footsteps of your Son. Help us to see the importance of spiritual things so we, too, can rejoice in the plan you have fulfilled for our salvation. Help us to trust in your grace to lead us and show us the way home, and give us the strength and courage to follow obediently. Amen