What does the word “face” conjure up for you? Your husband? Children? Parents? Loved ones? Perhaps a neighbor or friend? I melt at the sight of my grandchildren these days. Just seeing their faces brings a smile, warms my heart and fills my life with joy.
Parents long to see the faces of their children for the first time. I remember before our kids were born, I eagerly anticipated seeing the tiny face of each baby. I just couldn’t wait! Time has not erased the giddy feeling of great anticipation as we waited to see. Years later, I remember and emotion floods my eyes.
How about you? Whose face are you eager to see? Can you identify with the anticipation and joy of seeing their face for the first time? How do you respond?
Today as I set up one of my nativity sets, the faces of the wise men struck me. Each one has a different, albeit intense, expression. The artist provided an authentic glimpse at how the wise men's search might have affected them. The progression of responses on each visage reveals the true condition of his heart. There's a lesson to be learned. What do these expressions teach us about seeking the baby Jesus?
- Expect to See Him
The wise man on the left is looking up with hopeful anticipation. The longing on his face is almost tangible.
He desperately wants to see the baby king. You can almost hear his innermost prayer: "Lord, fulfill my hope of finding the baby." He trudges ahead as he follows the star.
…there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. Matthew 2:9b
- Be Amazed at Seeing Him
The middle king exhibits discovery and disbelief. He is stunned and amazed. Is he thinking, “The scriptures are true! We are going to see the newborn King!” ?
His mouth and eyes open wide. He responds to the baby with the wonder of a child.
When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. Matthew 2:10
He’s giddy. Even though he's an adult, I picture him looking like this:
3. Open Your Heart to See Him
The king on his knees is so overwhelmed at the sight of the baby Jesus, he brings his hand to his heart.
Nothing is able to calm the wild beating.
No words can express his intense adoration.
The search is over. The Holy Spirit opens his heart and pure love begins to ooze out of every pore as he views the Savior. He gazes at the face that he has been seeking - the promised Messiah, the newborn King!
On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Matthew 2:11
- Respond at the Sight of Him
Setting aside the pride of being kings themselves, the wise men kneel.
They know a real king when they see one.
Next the scriptures reveal a rather perplexing part of this story as told by Matthew. The wise men have gone to great expense to travel from the east to see the newborn king. But seeing him is not enough for them. They open their coffers and a lavish gifting begins. They give precious gold and rare commodities fit for a king.
Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:12
Seeing the face of the baby Jesus was a reward in itself. But there's so much more in store for the wise who still seek him. They get filled to the brim with good things, even as they are giving their all for him.
Expectation. Amazement. Joy. Love. A giving spirit.
This Christmas, may all these, and much more, be yours as you seek the face of God in the baby in the manger.
Joy to the World, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King!