Christmas Advent Day 9: Preparing to Marvel
When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the Child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:10-11, ESV)
Slack-jawed—you’ve seen it happen, I’m sure—when the mind has a complete inability to fully process what the eyes are seeing. Something unexpected; something magnificent; something wonderful. We see it, and we marvel.
When you consider the Christmas narrative, there is quite a bit that causes you to marvel. To marvel means you are filled with wonder or astonishment. I’m certain the shepherds in Luke 2 marveled! How else would you respond to the glory of the Lord shining round about you? Or an angel speaking to you? Or the heavenly hosts erupting in praise to welcome the newborn Christ? The astonishment and wonder went on and on.
And what about these men, known as the Magi, who first visited Herod? They had been tracking a special star for some time, and it led them to Jerusalem. They proclaimed that due to the nature of this star, it must have announced the birth of the “king of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2). They had gone to the wrong source—Herod—but they had the right idea. Herod told them to go to Bethlehem and find this Child for him. Of course, he just wanted to get rid of Him. So these men took the same journey—the reverse journey that Joseph and Mary intended to take. They were going from Galilee to Jerusalem and stopped in Bethlehem. These men started in Jerusalem but stopped in Bethlehem. The verses above tell us what they found. The star they had been tracking appeared to them again and led them directly to where they needed to go. They knew something exceptional was going to happen! If you stop and consider, on the face of things, it may seem lackluster. They had come all that way only to find what many would deem just a poor couple with a little child. But they were filled with wonder; they marveled at what they found. It’s proven in their response: they fell down and worshiped a child, and gave Him tremendously valuable gifts. And they rejoiced that they had been blessed to see this One sent from God.
I’m sure Joseph and Mary marveled, too. Their Son was the cause of quite a bit of excitement! Not only were they experiencing the joys of a firstborn Son but they witnessed the visits of the shepherds and the magi. The words told to them about their Son only confirmed what they had both been told by angels. This Jesus was the Son of God! I would marvel, too!
In thinking about Christmas in the modern era, I’ve been doing some marveling myself. Sure, I’ve marveled at gifts I’ve been given, but as I’ve grown older and become a parent, I’ve really enjoyed seeing my wife and kids marvel. I gave my wife a surprise gift last year, and I still remember the look of astonishment on her face—priceless! The same thing has happened with our children year after year. It never gets old! I’ve enjoyed seeing the looks on their faces when they see an impressive light display. The look on the face of your child lost in wonder is a memory you don’t soon forget.
But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the greatest reason to marvel during the Christmas season. I’m continually astonished by God’s grace to this fallen world. Why would He ever send His Son? Why send Him in the way He did—an infant born into poverty, and not a prince born into wealth? Why send Him, knowing it would end at the cross? With wonder and astonishment, I can’t even begin to process such grace. He gave us the very best He could give. He couldn’t have given anything or anyone better than His Son! Why? Why did He love us to that extent? It’s beyond explanation and, therefore, causes us to be filled with wonder and astonishment. We marvel at His love and His grace.