Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Three Responses To The Newborn King

The story of Christmas: an old message, but still not stale. After all, Jesus came once, and we are still looking forward to when He comes again.

The wise men, the ones always mentioned in the Christmas story, arrived at least a year after Jesus Christ was born, and here's an excerpt from the part of the tale when they arrived on the scene:

Matthew 2:1-11

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 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.”

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:

‘ But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;

For out of you shall come a Ruler

Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”

When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen 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 exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

This was in the past, but even today, each person makes a decision of how to react to Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. Notice the three different reactions to the revelation that Jesus is the Christ, and the coming King:

1) The chief priests and scribes knew all the facts, but didn't put two and two together that Jesus, the one who the wise men were seeking, was the promised Christ, who Herod was asking about. They told Herod where the Messiah would be born, without hesitation, and yet Bethlehem was less than a day's walk away and they never took the journey to see who all these leaders were making a fuss about or whether he was the Promised One. They had the facts, and didn't put them together – maybe they didn't want to put the facts together: Faced with inescapable evidence of His deity later, they still lived in blatant denial. They refused to understand that Jesus was King.

2) King Herod did put the facts together. After hearing about this newborn King, he researched this new King through the scribes and tried to tracked Him down through the wise men, because he took the Christ Child seriously. But he was not looking for a Savior; he wanted to be boss and king of his life and of his earthly kingdom, and didn't want anyone to threaten that reign. So when the wise men did not return, he simply ordered that all boys under the age of 2 in Bethlehem should be killed. He understood that Jesus was the King, but sought to end Him.

3) The wise men, on the other hand, they came, they asked, and they found. They put the facts together as much as they could, and asked for further facts and directions when they got to Israel. Upon finding the King, they worshiped Him, even before presenting their gifts to Him. They understood, and they worshiped Him.

So that's the story. And that's the choice.

It's not just a choice for those who are not yet Christ-followers, it's also a choice that we face every day. Do we live in denial of God's truths because we don't want to see? Do we see God's will, but try to rule our own lives instead? Or do we actively seek God's truth and His will for us, and then worship Christ as King through submitting to Him?

[Thanks to Charlie Eldred for the inspiration behind this post.]


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