George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons
They Found What They Diligently Sought
When they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother--Mat 2:11
At Last They Reached Their Goal
I notice first of all that these wise men from the East came to the house at last. They had had a long and toilsome and perhaps a perilous journey; they had crossed the desert and they had forded rivers; yet in spite of all hardship and difficulty and obstruction, here they were at their desired haven. There had been days when their journey seemed a failure, when they were tempted to renounce it altogether; they had knocked at door after door in Jerusalem seeking news, yet for a long time they had knocked in vain. They had thought to have found Jerusalem rejoicing--illuminated, maybe, because its King was born; and men were at business and little children were playing, as if nothing remarkable had happened. They had said to each other as they battled across the desert, "Our difficulties will be over when we reach Judaea. The roads will be thronged with pilgrims travelling kingwards, and we will join ourselves to one of these singing companies." But the roads were empty, and listen as they might, the wise men could not catch one burst of song. There were a thousand things to dishearten or discourage them. It was almost impossible that they should be successful. Their Chaldean neighbors had told them it was folly when they set out a week or two before. But with magnificent enthusiasm they persevered--nothing could baffle them or daunt them or dismay them--and all that story of heroism is in these opening words, "when they were come into the house."
A Great Effort May Be behind a Few Common Words
What a stirring and great history may lie under half a dozen commonplace words! A few quiet sentences, when the time of utterance comes, may cover the effort and the pain of years. It is not always in impassioned declamation that the deepest concerns of the human heart are spoken. There may be hardly the lifting of the voice, yet the words may tell of the tragedy of years. A young man may quietly say, "I cannot do that," and to the unobservant ear that may mean little; yet struggle and failure and repentance and prayer and promise may all be hidden in that quiet refusal. There is more heroism in a smiling face sometimes than in half of the deeds that are chronicled in battle. There may be more self-mastery in the doing of quiet duty than in the scourging of a whole calendar of saints. A world of effort and of hope deferred and of resolute uplifting of a man's brow again--all this may be hidden in such a simple sentence as "when they were come into the house."
The Secret of Their Perseverance: They Followed a Star
The secret of the perseverance of these wise men is not hard to find. It sprang from this, that they were following a star. Had they been guided by anything less than that, they would have sunk down wearied long ago. Do you think, now, if they had read about this King in some of their Chaldean or Babylonian libraries--do you think that that literary discovery would have buoyed them up and carried them at last into the manger? It needed more than earth to carry them through; it needed the bright and beckoning radiance of the sky. They were strong because their guidance was a star. They looked to the lamp of heaven and not to earth's taper. And if they battled bravely, and journeyed with zeal unquenchable, and if nothing could turn them from their unheard-of quest, it was because they followed, not a light of earth, but a light that was hung aloft by God.
God behind Great Human Enthusiasms
You may make up your mind that all the great enthusiasms have had at the heart of them something religious. When a man can follow a great purpose steadily, through ridicule and insult and obstruction, there is more than strength of will in it--there is God. He who sees no star never can be stable. He wanders vainly in a trackless wilderness. Conflicting voices reach him; he is perplexed; he cannot tell whither he is moving. But when above all mists our eyes have seen the light, when we can say, "Come night or agony, God reigneth," when we believe that no effort is in vain, and that there is not a pang but has a meaning in it, then life is filled with such a quiet purpose that like the wise men we come to the house at last.
The Variety of Motives That Brought People to Bethlehem
We should never forget the variety of motives that brought men under that roof at Bethlehem. The house was an inn or caravanserai, and we know that at that season it was very full; the wise men from the East had varied company when they came into the house that nightfall. Merchants were there, and all manner of wayfarers, and men who had gathered in Bethlehem for the taxing. And they began to eat and they chatted by the fire and they rehearsed their adventures by the way; but not a man of them dreamed that in that very building the Christ of God was born into the world. They came into the house and saw the Child, and they said, This is no place for a tender child like that. They came into the house and saw the Child, and they said, God have mercy on that poor mother there! But the wise men came, and when they saw they worshipped, and presented gold and frankincense and myrrh.
Most of us Cannot See the unusual in the Common
How blind most of us are! How little we know what is going on! We rise and journey and eat and go to rest and we know not what is being transacted at our door. Tragedies happen, lives are altered in an hour, heroical deeds are done or are attempted, and you and I, living within a stone's throw, may never hear one whisper of it all. The isolation of a great city is pitiable. Who lives in that house a few doors off? We do not know. But one day the blinds are drawn, someone is dead; and there have been tears and watching and breaking hearts within it; yet all the time we were happy with our children and could not have told you so much as our neighbor's name. Many a husband goes cheerily to business, in total ignorance of what his wife is suffering. Many a father would be amazed tonight if he knew the thoughts that were stirring in his daughter's heart. The greatest things are never obtrusive things. They are never clamorous or noisy or spectacular. How many are in the inn where Christ is born, yet they know nothing of the glory.
They Saw and Knew Him Whom They Were Seeking
Do you observe why the wise men saw the King when all the others that night at Bethlehem were blind to Him? The simple reason is that they were seeking Him, and just because they were seeking Him, they saw. Where is He that is born King of the Jews--they had troubled all Jerusalem with their questions. They were more than stargazers, they were anxious searchers not to be beaten off in their endeavor. And so where others saw nothing but a child, they saw, because they had searched for Him, a King. We read that Caesar came and saw and conquered; but these three wise men came and saw and worshipped; and to worship is sometimes better than to conquer, if they be not identical before the Throne. That is an exquisite title which John Bunyan gives to the church. You remember that he calls it the House Beautiful. When you are come into the House Beautiful which is the church the supreme question is, what do you see? It all depends on what you come to see. It all depends on what you have been seeking. If you seek to find fault you shall find it very easily, for neither preaching nor singing nor prayer is ever perfect. If you seek the fellowship of men and women you shall get it, for in the sanctuary men and women gather. But if you seek for more than that, if you seek light and guidance, if you seek power to live well, and power to die well, then poor though the worship may be, never a service shall pass, but you shall be blessed by seeing what you sought.
First They Saw the Young Child
In closing will you notice this, that the wise men saw the young Child and His mother. First the young Child--it was a child-and-mother picture, not mother-and-child, as the catalogues describe it. There are those who cannot see the Child, they are so taken up with gazing on the mother; but the wise men saw the Child, and then in that very glance they saw beautiful and peerless motherhood. They had found all they looked for and a little more, for they could never forget the look in Mary's face. It is always so when a man sees God for himself. We see the young Child and--something more. Motherhood, fatherhood, duty and trial and burden--all are lit with a new radiance from that hour. Then like the wise men we go home again, but like them, warned of God, we go another way; for the old ways and the old days are done and dead, when once we have seen God in Jesus Christ.
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