Here’s an Advent test. Do you want to remove His presence or revere His presence? Attack Him or adore Him?
Matthew teaches that Jesus is the King, worthy of extravagant worship. From their composure, or lack of it (v. 10, “exceedingly great joy”); to their posture, or the lack of it (v. 11, “They fell to the ground,” NASB); to their practice (v. 11, “and [they] worshiped Him”); to their presentation (v. 11, “They presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh”), the Magi were extravagant in their worship. Their behavior was far beyond perfunctory or routine. It was emotionally joyful, humble in posture, honoring in practice, and beautiful in presentation.
How few supportive worship appendices with which we are so familiar were present. There was no organ, choir, worship leader, or hymns—just the blessed incarnate Son of God and some “awestruck” Gentiles who obviously thought He was “worth it” because of the quality of their extravagant worship. Here’s a key to spiritually vital worship: When the inner person is astonished at the worth of the Savior, extravagance of emotion, posture, practice, and presentation is the result. Perhaps the real “worship war,” as the ecclesiastical pundits call it, is a fight for the worth of the Savior to be known among His people so they are astonished by Him. Not style, not music, but Him.
The word worship is the conflation of the old English greeting “worth-ship,” given to the highly respected like “lordship.” I am told that it indicates the worth of the one greeted. Apparently the Magi truly worshiped due to their grasp of His “worth-ship.” They knew Him as the cosmic King, the culture King, the heart King, and thus they immediately “downloaded” all that had worth to them, for He alone is worthy to be worshiped.
George MacDonald, the Scottish novelist and poet of the late 1800s and early 1900s, wrote of how this worth of Christ should move our response:
When I no more can stir my soul to move,
And life is but the ashes of a fire;
When I can but remember that my heart
Once used to live and love, long and aspire—
Oh, be Thou then the first,
The One Thou art;
Be Thou the calling, before all answering love,
And in me wake hope, fear, boundless desire.
This advent, remember that He is “the One . . . the calling, before all answering love.” If you do, you will find Him waking “hope, fear, boundless desire” within you. Then join the Magi and “rejoice exceedingly with great joy.” For the King of the cosmos has become King of your culture and your heart.
Rev. Joseph Novenson is the pastor of Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church in Lookout Mountain, Tenn.