Summary: This is part three in a series looking at the different characters in the Christmas narrative and what we can learn from their contributions.In this case the religious elite of this time seemed completely apathetic to the idea of the advent of the Christ.
The Voices of Christmas Part III
The Religious Leaders – the Voice of Apathy
The greatest event in human history has taken place. The Messiah has been born in the City of David. The King of kings has made a very humble entry into the world.
He was not born in Jerusalem, neither was His birth announced to the king of Judea nor to the Sanhedrin (the ruling council). No, this greatest of events foretold by the prophets for millennia has occurred in virtual obscurity. Among the last to know of it were the religious elite in Jerusalem and they were informed by way of some Gentile Magi seeking direction. There is no effort on the part of the religious leaders to find the Messiah for themselves.
Their apathy is proved by their actions – or lack thereof.
There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; … 37 She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
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." 3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5 "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:
6 "’But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’"
1. Hearing but not Listening –
Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
There is little doubt that this old woman created quite a buzz in the temple courts once she had seen the Lord’s Messiah.
She … spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
Whether or not she spoke directly to the chief priests and/or the ruling council would be conjecture on our part.
However, we do know that she spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
There is little doubt that they do not find it necessary to listen to the mindless ranting of an old woman who claims to have seen the Lord’s Messiah.
THESE PEOPLE HAVE STUBBORN AND REBELLIOUS HEARTS;
THEY HAVE TURNED ASIDE AND GONE AWAY.
24 THEY DO NOT SAY TO THEMSELVES,
’LET US FEAR THE LORD OUR GOD,
WHO GIVES AUTUMN AND SPRING RAINS IN SEASON,
WHO ASSURES US OF THE REGULAR WEEKS OF HARVEST.’
25 YOUR WRONGDOINGS HAVE KEPT THESE AWAY;
YOUR SINS HAVE DEPRIVED YOU OF GOOD.
26 "AMONG MY PEOPLE ARE WICKED MEN
WHO LIE IN WAIT LIKE MEN WHO SNARE BIRDS
AND LIKE THOSE WHO SET TRAPS TO CATCH MEN.
27 LIKE CAGES FULL OF BIRDS,
THEIR HOUSES ARE FULL OF DECEIT;
THEY HAVE BECOME RICH AND POWERFUL
28 AND HAVE GROWN FAT AND SLEEK.
THERE ARE NO UNINTERESTING THINGS, THERE ARE ONLY UNINTERESTED PEOPLE.
Of the religious leaders this scripture was true. They had grown rich and powerful, fat and sleek because many of them were the sycophants of Rome. They possessed power and position.
This was very powerful in draining them of whatever spiritual interest they had.
There is so much that can bring about spiritual apathy in our lives – it is an ever present danger that God’s people must guard against.
Ears that hear and eyes that see--
the LORD has made them both.
He made them for us to use them – to hear and to see.
The religious leaders failed to acknowledge the Lord’s Messiah because they failed to heed the message.
But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our message?" 17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. 18 But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did:
"Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world."
21 But concerning Israel he says,