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CMF eZine


The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship.


Thoughts on the Incarnation

By Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Editor’s Introduction

The season of the church calendar that begins, as Christmastide ends, is called Epiphanytide and continues until Lent begins.  The three main events focused on during the Epiphany season are the visit of the Magi, the baptism of Jesus, and Jesus’ miracle at the marriage at Cana.  The visit of the Magi is traditionally interpreted as symbolic of God’s revelation of himself to the Gentiles, and so one of the themes of the season is mission. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity also falls within the season, allowing another seasonal theme to be that of unity.

The Wise Men and the Incarnation

As soon as the wise men came to Jerusalem, they enquired, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?”  They were fully convinced that He was the King of the Jews, and that He had been but recently born, so they asked, “Where is He?”

In the case of these wise men, we see ignorance admitted.  Truly wise men are never above asking questions, because they are wise men.  Persons who have taken the name and degree of wise men, and are so esteemed, sometimes think it beneath them to confess any degree of ignorance, but the really wise think not so; they are too well instructed to be ignorant of their own ignorance.  Many men might have been wise if they had but been aware that they were fools.  The knowledge of our ignorance is the doorstep of the temple of knowledge. Some think they know, and therefore never know.  Had they known that they were blind, they would soon have been made to see; but because they say, “We see,” therefore their blindness remains upon them.

The wise men were not content with admitting their ignorance; but, in their case, there was information entreated. They thought it likeliest that Jesus would be known at the metropolitan city.  Was He not the King of the Jews? Where, then, would He be so well known as at the capital?  They probably asked the guards at the gate, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?”  But the guards laughed them to scorn, and replied, “We know no king but Herod.” Perhaps they met a loiterer in the streets, and to him they said, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” and he answered, “What care I for such crazy questions?  I am looking for a companion who will drink with me.”  Possibly, they asked a trader; but he sneered, and said, “Never mind kings, what will you buy, or what have you to sell?”  “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” said they to a Sadducee, and he replied, “Be not such fools as to talk in that fashion; or if you do, pray call on my religious friend, the Pharisee.”  They passed a woman in the streets, and asked, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?” but she said, “My child is sick at home, I have enough to do to think of my poor babe; I care not who is born, or who beside may die.”  When they went to the very highest quarters, they obtained but little information; yet they were not content till they had learned all that could be known concerning the new-born King.

They were not satisfied with merely getting to Jerusalem.  They might have said, “Ah! now we are in the land where the Child is born, we will be thankful, and sit down contentedly.”  They heard that He was born at Bethlehem, so they journeyed thither; but we do not find that, when they reached that village, they said, “This is a favored spot, we will sit down here.”  Not at all; they wanted to know where the house was in which they could find the King whom they had come so far to seek.  They saw the star stand still above the village inn, and they knew by that sign that the new-born King was there, but that did not satisfy them.  No; they rested not till they saw the Child Himself, and worshipped Him.

The Wise Men, What They Teach Us

There is much to be learned from the action of these wise men; so let us, in thought, follow them.  They have come to the house where the young Child is.  What will they do?  Will they stand still, and look at the star?  No; they enter in.  The star still shines, but they are not afraid of losing its radiance, for they have come where they can behold the Sun of righteousness.  They lift the latch, and enter the lowly residence of the Babe.  They see the star no longer, and they have no need to see it, for there is “He that is born King of the Jews.”  Now the true Light has shone upon them from the face of the Child; they behold the incarnate God.

How wise you will be if, when you have been led to the place where Christ is, by any man, you do not rest in his leadership, but resolve to see Christ for yourselves!  How much I long that you may enter into the fellowship of the mystery, pass through the door, and come and behold the young Child, and bow before Him!  Our sorrow is that so many are so unwise as to be content with seeing us.  We are only their guides, but they are apt to make us their end.  We point the way, but they do not follow the road; they stand gazing upon us.  It was not so with the wise men.  The star had done its work, and passed away; but Jesus remained, and they came unto Him.

These men proved that they were wise because, when they saw the Child, they worshipped Him.  Theirs was not curiosity gratified, but devotion exercised.  We, too, must worship the Savior, or we shall never be saved by Him.  He has not come to put away our sins, and yet to leave us ungodly and self-willed.  Oh, you who have never worshipped the Christ of God, may you be led to do so!  He is God; therefore, adore Him.

Was God ever seen in such a worshipful form before?  Behold, He bows the heavens; He rides upon the wings of the wind; He scatters flames of fire; He speaks, and His dread artillery shakes the hills.  Who would not adore the great and terrible Jehovah?  But is it not much better to behold Him here, allied to your nature, wrapped like other babes in swaddling-clothes, tender, feeble, next of kin to your own self?  Will you not worship God when He thus comes down to you, and becomes your Brother, born for your salvation?

You cannot properly worship a Christ whom you do not know; but when you think of Jesus Christ, whose goings forth were of old, from everlasting, the eternally-begotten Son of the Father, and then see Him coming here to be a man of the substance of His mother, and know and understand why He came, and what He did when He came, then you fall down, and worship Him.

“Son of God, to Thee we bow, Thou art Lord, and only Thou; Thou the woman’s promised seed; Thou who didst for sinners bleed.”

We worship “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”  Our faith sees Him go from the manger to the cross, and from the cross right up to the throne; and there, where Jehovah dwells, amidst the insufferable glory of the Divine presence, stands the very same Person who slept in the manger at Bethlehem; there He reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords.  Our souls worship Him. Thou art our Prophet; every word Thou sayest, we believe, and desire to obey. Thou art our Priest; Thy sacrifice hath made us free from guilt, we are washed white in the fountain of Thy blood. Thou art our King; give Thy commands, and we will obey them; lead Thou on, and we will follow. Thou art God, and we worship Thee.

After worshipping Christ, the wise men presented their gifts to Him.  One broke open his casket of gold, and laid it at the feet of the new-born King.  Another presented frankincense,—one of the precious products of the country from which they came; and others laid myrrh at the Redeemer’s feet.  All these they gave to Him to prove the sincerity of their worship; they gave substantial offerings with no stingy hand.

These wise men, when they worshipped Christ, did not permit it to be a mere empty-handed adoration; and truly wise men are still liberal men.  Consecration is the best education.  It is thought, by some, to be wise to be always receiving; but our Savior said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

God judges our hearts by that which spontaneously comes from them; hence, the “sweet cane bought with money” is acceptable to Him when given freely.  He doth not tax His saints for His offerings, nor weary them with His demands for incense; but He delights to see in them that true love which cannot express itself in mere words, but must use gold, and frankincense, and myrrh,—works of love and deeds of self-denial and generosity,—to be the emblems of its gratitude.  We shall never get into the heart of happiness till we become unselfish and generous; we have but chewed the husks of religion, which are often bitter; we have never eaten of the sweet kernel until we have felt the love of God constraining us to make sacrifices for Him.  There is nothing in the true believer’s power which he would not do for his Lord; nothing in our substance which we would not give to Him, nothing in ourselves which we would not devote to His service.

 


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