"Where is he that is born King of the Jews?"

It was a memorable night for the world, when three men presented themselves before the door of an inn at Bethlehem, asking the strange question, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?" A strange question, indeed, and a strange place wherein to find a King. The amazement of the servant who answered the summons was not greater than the surprise of those other guests who, till then, were ignorant of the regal presence in their midst. "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?" Who could answer? Which of that motley throng crowding the courtyard and filling the small house, answered that description? Here were Jews from all parts of the world come to their native city to be taxed, by decree from Rome. Merchants, articity and tillers of the soil; obscure for the most part, unheralded, seeking accommodation in a modest public inn. The most imposing dignitary of the assembly could hardly claim royal birth or descent, and yet what meant that insistent query, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?" The eager bustling of the crowd, the startled glances and tense faces, gave some token of the inward thrill that question awakened. Was this, then, the consummation of prophecy? Were the prayers and longings of years to be realized at last, and was quiet Bethlehem of Judæa to give to the expectant Jews their Saviour and King? The import of the question was too vast for that little company. The thoughts it awakened and the vista of freedom and conquest it opened were too big for instant comprehension. For generations, the devout worshipers of one God had prayed for deliverance, their prophets had foretold the advent of the Messiah, every earnest supplication, every secret longing and whispered prayer had centered on the coming of a king, and now, as if from heaven itself, came the question which implied the cherished hope fulfilled, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?"

And what of the men who thus proclaimed Israel's deliverer? As they dismounted and made their way across the courtyard, curious eyes noted the peculiarities of dress and visage which marked them strangers to Judæa. Dignity sat upon the calm brow, majesty glanced from eyes made serene with patient waiting. Their age and bearing, as well as their rich apparel and the costly trapping of their camels, commanded deference. The stains of travel and the dust of the desert could not quite dim the splendor of this little cavalcade. Here were messengers worthy to herald a king. They have been called Wise Men, and so they were, but their wisdom must have been of God, for their traditional meeting in the desert, and their journey, now ended, was not effected by human means. No lengthy correspondence preceded that solitary and solemn junction. No occult power, no mystic force inaugurated a journey that was to have its glorious finish at the manger in Bethlehem.

What paths they traversed, what perils they overcame, none may know. The great fact remains,—they found the King they sought! Each, in his far-off country, with peculiarities of race, temperament, education, and religion, "beheld a great light," and, obedient to the revealed truth, pliant to the guidance of infinite intelligence, they pursued their several ways, until they met, and together continued their journey to seek him who was alike unknown to them all. It must have been a sublime faith which instituted such a search, ay, an unshaken and perfect confidence that he whom they sought could be found. The record says, "And, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and tell down, and worshiped him." Thus was the King found, and the good news announced to a listening world. Holy aspiration and earnest seeking had revealed the Saviour. To the idly curious, to the ignorant, the gross, or the material, there was nought of kingly majesty, nought of puissance or glory in the infant form lying in the manger, but Wisdom had disclosed to eyes that could see and had whispered to ears that could hear, the triumphant truth that Christ was born to earth.

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Order in our Church
August 22, 1903

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