Summary: Christmas Series
I’M DREAMING OF A WISE CHRISTMAS (MATTHEW 2:1-18)
I look with amusement once at Christmas e-cards prominently displayed on websites. The most frequent themes and images on the cards are Santa Claus, Snowmen, Christmas trees, stockings, reindeers, penguins, polar bears, candles, angels, tree decorations and the three kings. The nativity scene appears in one of twelve cards on Blue Mountain’s Christmas page, none of twelve in Yahoo and none in twelve on American Greetings, too.
2005 is the year inflatable Christmas decorations come of age. The inflatable decorations I have seen around my neighborhood include Winnie the Pooh, Mickey Mouse, Snowman, Santa, Reindeers, Polar Bear, Penguin, the Grinch and the eye-catching Inflatable Snow Globes. One year I counted 50 or more homes with Christmas lawn displays but only 2 with the nativity scene.
Freezing Christ out of Christmas is a culture war, a liberal bias and a left-wing agenda no one likes to admit. Celebrating Christmas in a worldly manner is not a biblical option. Celebrating it in a wisely manner is the alternative.
How did the magi or wise men celebrate Christmas? What do the wise today need to know about the Christ of Christmas past and present? What did Christ bring at His coming and what did the wise men offer in return?
Wisdom is in the Going, not in the Guessing
2:1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 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.” (Matt 2:1-2)
One year I received this forwarded e-mail from my wife around Christmas time:
Why Jesus is Better Than Santa Claus
*Santa lives at the North Pole... JESUS is everywhere.
*Santa rides in a sleigh... JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.
*Santa comes but once a year... JESUS is an ever-present help.
*Santa fills your stockings with goodies... JESUS supplies all your needs.
*You have to wait in line to see Santa... JESUS is as close as the mention of His name.
*Santa lets you sit on his lap... JESUS lets you rest in His arms.
*Santa doesn’t know your name, all he can say is “Hi little boy or girl, what’s your name?”... JESUS knew our name before we did. Not only does He know our name, He knows our address too. He knows our history and future and He even knows how many hairs are on our head.
*Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly... JESUS has a heart full of love.
*All Santa can offer is HO HO HO... JESUS offers health, help and hope.
*Santa says “You better not cry”... JESUS says “Cast all your cares on me for I care for you.”
*Santa’s little helpers make toys... JESUS makes new life, mends wounded hearts, repairs broken homes and builds mansions.
*Santa may make you chuckle but...JESUS gives you a joy that is your strength.
*While Santa puts gifts under your tree... JESUS became our gift and died on the tree.
The wise men who paid homage to Christ at his birth were missionaries, evangelists, scholars, philosophers, sages, dreamers and seekers. The wise men were not wise for nothing. They were wise because they made the move, acted in faith and sought the child. Out in the east most people did not notice a star. Other stargazers were most happy to catch the sight but buried the thought and nixed the idea of pursuing further. The wise men not only saw the star but they sought the king. The idea of making the trip was so inconceivable and inconvenient for simple folks and ordinary people but not for the wisest of the wise, who decided that this was the adventure and the opportunity of a lifetime not to be missed. So they crossed deserts, braved storms and suffer winds to see the sight. The conventional idea of the star forcing them to go and leading them to Jerusalem is foreign to the text and nothing further from the truth. The star did not act like a tour guide until after they arrived in Jerusalem, in verse 9. That was why they ended in Jerusalem and not Bethlehem to stop for advice and directions in the first place.
The magi were wise not only in asking for directions and advice, but that they knew the identity of the child. When they arrived in Jerusalem, the wise men did not ask “What child is this?” but calmly 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” (v 2). The reason for their appearance in Jerusalem caught everyone by surprise. The foreigners knew something the locals did not – the birth of the King of the Jews. The “King of the Jews” was the designation Jesus had no problem with accepting and embracing in his birth, life and death. Matthew, Mark and Luke all recorded Jesus’ exchange with Pilate who asked, “Are you the king of the Jews?” The suspense was whether Jesus would deny the designation to save himself. However, Jesus replied, “Yes, it is as you say,” (Mark 15:2, Matt 27:11, Luke 23:3).