Have you ever considered the similarities between missionaries and what’s recorded about the wise men from the East that are part of what we call the Christmas story? Pastor Jeff Jackson thinks some encouragement for missionaries can be found by doing so.
Matt 2:1-3 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “where is he who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him. 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
Christmas is the remembrance and celebration of the true story of the birth of Jesus.
It’s something that all of us who know and love Him joyfully participate in at this
time of year.
It’s a special time for many of us.
But for missionaries who aren’t able to make the trip back to the U.S. to be with their
loved ones and family, Christmas can be a source of incredible sorrow that has the
capacity to dim a bit of the glow of joy that is usually ignited by pondering afresh the
miracle of His entry as a baby into our world.
I believe that the familiar verses recorded above that are almost always included
when we tell the Christmas story, actually contain a few facts that present some
amazing similarities and truths that apply to the lives and experiences of those that
God has called to serve as missionaries to other countries.
I also believe that by understanding these things and passing them on to the
missionaries we know, we will have the privilege of being a channel of His love and
encouragement to these special people.
1. Jerusalem was the city with the largest population of Jews on the planet.
They were just one of the multitude of ethnically distinct people that God has
had created for His glory.
They were the ethnic group that He chose to directly interact with and to
bestow His grace on in a unique way for more than 2,000 years–always for
their good AND through them, for the good of all mankind.
But their religious leaders and the vast majority of the people themselves
had not been interacting with their amazing God in the way that He clearly
revealed that they should.
And because of that, they were unaware that on that night, their God had
taken the first step of acting on their behalf and for all people, by sending
into their chaotic world the One that He had promised so long ago.
SIMILARITY: The vast majority of the people missionaries now live among are not
interacting with God in the way that He requires and they are also
unaware that He has already acted on their behalf.
They too are clueless about the expression of His love and grace and
the relationship they can have with God through the One that He has
2. But God did reveal that His plan had begun to a small group of people who
were from an ethnicity, religion, culture, and country that were different than
At the same time that His Son made the transition from the cozy womb of His
humble, Jewish, earthly mother, God also placed a unique star in the sky.
He knew that a few wise astronomers and/or stargazers from the East would
recognize that the out-of-the-ordinary star they saw in the sky was actually
a beacon that belonged to and drew attention to the King of the Jews that
had just been born.
And even more importantly, they understood that this new-born King of the
Jews was worthy of worship from a larger group of people than just the Jews.
SIMILARITY: Each missionary understands that although Jesus is Jewish and the
King of the Jews, He is also King of Kings and Lord of Lords and the
Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the WORLD.
Like these wise men, missionaries also know that He is worthy to
receive worship from every tribe, people, nation, and tongue.
3. The passion to worship Him that these men from the East possessed revealed
itself in their willingness to depart from their own country, family, and
friends in order to do so.
That passion to worship Him also provoked them to bring financially costly
expressions of devotion to offer to Him.
And it also emboldened them to declare their desire to worship Him to
the people that God led them to and that lived in a different country and that
were very different from them.
SIMILARITY: The wise men’s passion to worship Him and the value they recognized
in Him produced their willingness to do the things I mentioned
The missionary’s passion to not only worship Him because of His
worth, but to invite others to join them in worshiping Him has led
them to do similar things:
–It has led them to travel a great distance, leaving behind everything familiar
–It has led them to pay a significant cost financially and culturally as they
have stepped out in faith and are continually trusting God to provide their
financial needs through brothers and sisters in Him who also long to see an
increase in the number of people who are giving Him the worship He
–It has also led them to offer Him something that is more valuable than
anything money can buy–their very lives and health and the lives and health
of their wives and children.
4. The declaration of the birth of the King of the Jews was troubling to the civil
leader, (Herod), and all of the Jews who lived in Jerusalem.
The announcement of the birth of their messiah through foreigners probably
It didn’t produce joy and clearly wasn’t received as good news.
It was actually very troubling news.
SIMILARITY: The missionary’s very presence in the midst of those they are called to
love and serve, and their efforts to proclaim that God has already
acted for the ultimate good of those they share that truth with, in
many cases, is troubling news.
But they continue to share it anyway in the hope that some of those
they share with will see God’s action for what it really is–the most
amazing expression of self-denying love, mercy, and grace that has
ever been seen on this planet.
The similarities between what is recorded about the wise men as part of the
Christmas story and what missionaries have done are very real.
Remind the missionaries you know that they too are a crucial part of the ongoing
story of God’s love for all mankind that began all those years ago and that included
cross-ethnic and cross-cultural ministry from the beginning.