Summary: Messages looks at the reaction of Herod, the Magi, and Mary and Joseph in Matthew 2.
Reactions to Christmas
Pastor Don Jones
When Mary Wyly was pregnant with her first son, her husband took her shopping for maternity clothes. After they purchased several very pretty and expensive outfits, he put his arm around her. She was delighted when she heard him whisper; "Now I’m going to take you where they have the best diamond rings in the world."
Mary thought that this was a perfect romantic ending to a perfectly romantic day. When she found herself in the mall restaurant, however, she realized that what she had heard was "diamond rings," but what he had said was "onion rings." (Paul Decker, Don’t Give in to Evil)
I am sure her reaction to hearing the good news of the diamond changed drastically when she heard it was an onion. She went from joy, to who knows what.
Like Mary, Christmas seems to evoke different reactions to the good news proclaimed to the shepherds. They started with the message of great joy. When we look at Matthew 2:1-23 we see there were different reactions to the question,
"Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?"
King Herod definitely had a negative reaction to the news of a new king. When the Magi came they went right to the king. After all, they were visiting dignitaries from a foreign land. When they asked him the question he was "distressed".
The city of Jerusalem was disturbed as well. I would say they were probably terrified. Herod protected his throne with a vicious fervor. He had killed his close relatives to maintain control and remove any possible future threat to his kingdom. He was an ancient forerunner of Saddam Hussein. He would kill anybody to stay in power, even children.
The Magi arrived with the question, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?" Herod must have gone off his already tilted rocker. I am sure all he began to think about is how to locate this child to eliminate him.
When King Herod finally discovered the Magi had left he went berserk. Matthew 2:16 says,
When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
What a crime and tragedy of monumental proportion. All the children 2 and under slain by the king.
Herod wanted to eliminate all threats to his power and authority. Did you know there are Herod imitators today? No, I don’t mean they are monstrous killer psychopaths. But there are those who will not give up the power and authority in their lives. These individuals are trying to erase every reference and sign of God, whether the Christ child or the Ten Commandments.
I am convinced that they remind them that He is God and they are not. Any symbol of Christmas or phrase is anathema to them. Mini-Herods are alive and well in our country and if we are not careful they will remove all reminders of God’s power and authority.
The Magi were completely different. They came seeking the child to worship Him. Matthew 2:2says,
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.
These were learned men, men of talent. The title of Magi was associated with individuals of stature and learning. That is why most of our songs say 3 kings. Kings were familiar with the arts and could bring expensive gifts like the Magi did.
It is also quite possible that these men were influenced by Daniel. He was head over the sorcerers and magicians while in exile and I am of the mind that they were familiar with his teachings. Perhaps they even knew of the star through him.
The wisemen were looking for the king. They were seeking this one who was to be king of the Jews. Perhaps they searched the skies every night for a sign. They traveled a great distance in uncomfortable surroundings seeking him. There were no air conditioners or padded seats back then. They also dealt with an evil king. One who would kill them if necessary to get the information they needed. It was a hard struggle to get to Jesus.
Finally, when they got to Jesus they bowed and worshipped. Worshipping the one true Lord is the most important reason for them to be called wise. You could be wise today if you would but worship the one true Lord, Jesus. Invite Him to be your Lord today.
Joseph and Mary
Lastly, Joseph and Mary reacted to the birth of their new baby boy. I know as a parent it was a joyful event. It was an event of great joy according to Luke. I am sure they were also very proud. They both were typical parents.