Friday, January 6, 2017
Matt. 2:1 In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” 3 When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.
Angels didn’t visit the Gentiles from the East to proclaim the arrival of the Messiah, but God did send a sign in the heavens to draw them toward the Son. This was a sign of the kingdom of God, a symbol that things were about to change and the arrival of the wise men brought that vision to life. No wonder Herod and all of Jerusalem were disturbed by their arrival. The Jews were not ready to embrace their Messiah and now things were stirred up by the arrival Gentiles who were ready to accept and worship a new king. This idea was even more disturbing for Herod for their arrival signaled a threat to his leadership because these men from the East were prepared to worship a new king. Their arrival signaled the reign of Christ and his kingdom for the whole world.
When the wise men eventually found Jesus they brought him gifts and responded with hearts filled with wonder and worship. They intentionally sought out Jesus and came with hearts full of gratitude. This is in sharp contrast with how we often wait, expecting God to come to us. We go to God in prayer expecting God to answer — in essence to present us with gifts. These men were certainly wise by their ability to interpret the signs of the sky, but also by coming with hearts of gratitude, bearing gifts for the newborn king.
A variety of responses to the Messiah are revealed in this passage. Somewhere we may just find ourselves.
Herod was an old man who was clinging to power. Anything that might upset his little world was seen as a real threat. His insecurity led to the death of numerous baby boys under the age of two. Wanting to control what was happening in his world, his paranoia led him to an extreme response. He panicked at the prospect of losing power.
I’m saddened to see that all of Jerusalem was troubled, along with Herod. Herod wasn’t exactly a beloved leader, so why would the people of Jerusalem, presumably a majority of whom are Jews, be threatened by the arrival of one who may just have been their Messiah? These chosen people of God for whom the Messiah had come were still not ready to accept Jesus. Anything that would upset the status quo of the lives they had assumed was troubling — even if it meant salvation.
The presence of Christ in our lives will trouble the waters — he will stir things up. However, he will only stir things up because he wants to make a difference. Our lives often can’t change for the better unless we shake loose of the routine of this world. If we have been lulled into complacency because we have found a place of comfort, then we may just find ourselves being troubled by Jesus arrival. Instead of embracing what Jesus just might want to shake loose in our lives, we become troubled by his presence.
Finally the wise men are the ones whom we would not have expected to respond, and yet, here they are. Their worship of the child signals the expansion of the gospel to the whole world. Their worship by way of gifts and praise provide an example for all. Far too often we come to God through Christ in prayer and we bring our list of requests — hoping to be provided gifts from God. While the Father loves us and wants to be generous with his children, we should also come bearing gifts. With hearts of overflowing gratitude we are to come before the Father, lifting up prayers of genuine thanksgiving, filled with offerings of praise. Our lives, day in and day out, are to be a sacrifice and gift of praise.
The wise men had an epiphany — they saw the child for who he really was and their response was to bring gifts to the king. May we too experience the great epiphany and see Jesus in all of his glory and splendor and bring before him our sacrificial gifts.
Lord, may I live into the revelation of who you really are. Thank you for the incredible gift of adoption into your family and may my life be a poured out offering before you. Amen.