Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Where is the. . . king?. . .we have come to worship him.”

Matt. 2:1-11 NLT
  1 Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking,  2 “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” 
  3  King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem.  4 He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” 
  5   “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: 6  ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah,  are not least among the ruling cities of Judah,  for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’” 
   Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. 8 Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!” 
  9 After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! 11 They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 

We saw the Christmas story through the eyes of the Gospel Writer Luke, who researched it from the memories of Mary and the Disciples. Here we have the story from the Jewish tax-collector turned Disciple of Christ, Matthew. His account contains details that the Gentile writer Luke leaves out. The story of the wise men from Babylon is included. Jews had a history with Babylon-- a love-hate relationship with it. Though their ancestors had been taken captive, they had also moved into leadership within the empire and had great influence on its educational system. It is reasonable to connect these first century scholars from there as having been influenced by their education's Hebrew roots so they were aware of the prophesy of the coming King and Messiah.  How sad it is was that Gentiles endured years of hardship searching for the humble birth of the King, while to His own people it went barely noticed by only the poorest of the poor. But the Magi came bringing gifts and worshiping. They departed worshiping as well. Doubtless their rich gifts supported this young family for many years thereafter through the hardships that another was plotting.

The antithesis of the faithful Magi was Herod. As soon as he inadvertently became aware of a 'king' born in the humble village of Bethlehem, he, too was interested. But his interest was evil. He intended harm and we shall look more deeply into that tomorrow. But the Magi traveled thousands of miles simply to worship, leave their gifts of faith, and return in their way homeward rejoicing that they were privileged among human kind to witness the infant king of the universe. We hear nothing more about them in history, but one has to realize that throughout the disbelieving world, God has his faithful ones that few will ever recognize or anticipate. It does not matter that the world fails to recognize us for our faith-- God recognizes it. God grants it to us. God blesses us. And when we have obeyed the tasks God has placed into our own hands, as well as we might, then we, too, can go our way rejoicing in the Holy Spirit that we were permitted to play some role in the greater plans of God.

Have you been faithful? Then rejoice today for what He has allowed you to do, whether you know the ultimate outcome or not. It matters not that we know outcomes, only that we know we have been allowed and empowered to be faithful.

Your servant in His love

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