Sometimes We’re So Confident, Only to Find Out We Missed the Mark
This past Sunday we were blessed to have Rev. Bill Brazil filling the pulpit while Pastor Lee is on vacation.
His sermon was based on the book, The Other Wise Man, by Henry van Dyke. This story is an addition to and expansion of the account of the Biblical Magi. It tells about a “fourth” wise man named Artaban. Like the other Magi, he sees signs in the heavens proclaiming that a King had been born among the Jews.
Like them, he sets out to see the newborn ruler, carrying treasures to give as gifts to the child – a sapphire, a ruby, and a pearl. However, on his way he finds a man lying in the road, near death.
Artaban felt sorry for him, but he didn’t have time to stay and help…he was in the middle of the most important task of his life. How could he just turn his back on taking his gifts to the Messiah?
But then, how could he leave this man alone to die?
Artaban decides to stay and covers the man with his robe. After several hours the man regained consciousness. Artaban gave him the last of his bread and wine and goes to meet his friends.
Because he had stopped to help the man, he missed the caravan. He found a note left by his friends. They had waited as long as they could and told him he should follow.
He couldn’t cross the desert with only a horse, he was forced to use his sapphire in order to buy camels and supplies necessary for the trip.
He commenced his journey but arrives in Bethlehem too late, the child and His parents had fled to Egypt. The streets were deserted due to Herod’s soldiers looking for and killing baby boys.
As Artaban was walking through the streets he heard a baby crying. He introduced himself to the mother and as they were talking there was a commotion outside.
It was soldiers taking babies from their mothers and killing them. As a captain approached the house Artaban held out the ruby. He said, “I’m waiting to give this jewel to the prudent captain who will go on his way and leave this house alone.”
He saved the life of the child at the price of another of his treasures.
He then travels to Egypt and to many other countries, searching for Jesus. For years he travels around, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and healing the sick.
After 33 years, Artaban, still trying to find Jesus, arrives in Jerusalem. He is getting old, but still desperate to find the King.
It so happens that it was Passover and the city was full of visitors. Artaban asked someone where everyone was going. “We are going to an execution on Golgotha. One of these men is call Jesus of Nazareth. He claims to be the son of God, but Pilate has sent Him to the cross.
Could it be that I might ransom the King with my last treasure?
As Artaban headed toward Calvary, he saw a group of soldiers dragging a young woman. She was able to break away and threw herself at his feet asking for help.
She had been sold into slavery to pay off her dead father’s debt.
Once again Artaban was conflicted. Twice before he had spent the gift consecrated to the King. He just had one jewel left. What was he going to do?
He spent the pearl, to ransom the young woman.
Then the sky grew dark, the ground began to shake and buildings began to fall. As he hid by a wall a tile fell from the roof and hit him in the head. His quest to give tribute to the King was over and he had failed.
As he lay there a still small voice came to him like music. “Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.” (Matthew 25:40)
As he lay there dying a calm radiance of wonder and joy lit his face. His journey had ended. His treasures were accepted.
“The Other Wise Man” found his King.
So often we have a plan. We’re sure it’s the right plan. We’ve prayed and asked God. The problem is that sometimes what we think is God’s voice is really just our own.
Don’t get so caught up in doing the right thing that you miss out on the joy of doing the right thing.