Summary: Take a clear look at some symbols of Christmas to discover the nature of God and His desires for us.
This morning I want to invite you to join me in reflecting upon the timeless invitation that lies beneath all the activity of this season;…the invitation to COME AND BEHOLD HIM.
As one of the great Christmas anthems declares so beautifully…
“O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant
O come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem
Come and Behold Him, Born the King of Angels
O Come Let us Adore Him, O come let us Adore Him, Christ the Lord.”
Come and behold Him, come let us adore Him: As this sovereign call is once again poured out in a special way upon the earth, I can’t help but think of how often this simple calling gets confused…
James Fallow, until recently the Far Eastern correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly, reports that Americans have exported this confusion of symbols. In one large Japanese department store he came across a display featuring Santa Claus holding the infant Jesus, behind a sleigh pulled by the seven dwarfs. (From Mohler is Associate Editor of Preaching, Preaching, Vol. 7, #3)
… Disney should stick to their mergers on earth.
Selfish ambitions get in the way. (Humorous story of boy who acted selfish… was told by father to sit and ponder the nativity scene in their home. Finally grabs the baby Jesus and writes a letter to God, “Dear God. If you ever want to see your son again…”)
...Of course had it wrong…it’s Santa, not Jesus who only gives according to who is naughty or nice.
A far clearer picture of our journey to behold him comes in MATTHEW 2: 1-12; After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews! We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”
What took place in this wonderful journey is a bit different than some of the images portrayed in popular traditions….often imagine 3 Kings coming to the stable setting where our Lord was first born, but actually…These were not Kings; Magi were a tribe of Medians from the Persian empire in the East, they had become something of a priestly tribe, much like the Levites were in Israel: teachers and instructors to the Persian Kings They were known as men of holiness and wisdom; skilled in philosophy, medicine, and natural sciences…and in the simplicity of their sciences…they looked to the stars because clearly there was God given order in their arrangement and movement. Also we need not limit them to three; the traditional image of 3 was simply drawn from the fact that 3 types of gifts were offered. Perhaps most surprisingly, Scripture does not portray them coming to that first night in the stable setting…but rather sometime later, the text describes them coming to a house rather than a stable, and to a young child rather than a “baby.” (Eventually Herod is found ordering the death of all boys under the age of 2 which may indicate that their journey and pursuit of the child was as long as 2 years.)
…but we need not yank those figures out of our nativity scenes; they were indeed wise men, adorned in prestigious dress, and among those who first came to find Jesus.