Summary: Examine the responses of several key biblical characters to the birth of Christ while reflecting upon our own response.
A few days ago we celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ. We had a great Christmas Eve service followed by an outstanding Christmas Eve party. But now what? Many people experience the “Christmas blues.” It is hard being away from family during Christmas when there are so many traditions that our families do that many times we take for granted until we are not there.
The theme for tonight is “So what?” Christmas has come and gone and the question before you is stated in James, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that and shudder.”
SIGN ON CHURCH BULLETIN BOARD "Merry Christmas to our Christian friends. Happy Hanukkah to our Jewish friends. And to our atheist friends, good luck. SOURCE: Jeff Strite, Church of Christ at Logansport, Logansport, IN.
Again, the question is, “What do you believe?” and “So what? What difference is it making in your life?” What we believe should have an impact on what we do. What we believe should make a difference in our lives. I am a firm believer that where our mind goes our butt will follow.
We are going to start tonight by looking at some of the characters we have already mentioned in previous weeks leading up to the birth of Christ and we are going to look at a couple of new ones.
Let’s read our Scripture passages beginning with Matthew 2:16:
16 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.
Let’s look first at the Magi. We know from Scripture that they were from the east. We do not know exactly where they came from but it is thought that perhaps they were Chaldeans or Assyrians. The Magians were a priestly caste and the office was hereditary. During the time of Daniel they uttered prophecies and interpreted dreams. Magi were people of learning and they devoted their studies to astrology and the natural sciences and over time were no longer necessarily required to be of the priestly caste. The Magi that visited the Baby Jesus were obviously skilled in astrology and were earnestly seeking after Jesus. They left their homeland and all the comforts of home to follow this star to wherever it was leading them. They did not know the destination but they knew what they were going to find there. They were going to find the King of the Jews. Their purpose for finding Him was so that they could worship Him. Their belief that they would find Jesus motivated them to take action and find him and also to bring great treasures along with them to give to Baby Jesus, Joseph and Mary. Little did they know at the time that Joseph and Mary were going to need these treasures to provide passage for their family into Egypt and live there for several years. They were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod so they obeyed and went back home using another route.
Here is the quick summary: The Magi studied the sciences, believed in God, acted on their belief and sought after God, were led by God through the sciences they were familiar with, found God (Baby Jesus), were spoken to by God again this time in a dream and they obeyed God.
Now let’s look at Joseph.
Joseph is an average guy. He’s a carpenter looking to make a normal life for himself. He is planning on getting married to Mary when he finds out that she is pregnant. At that point he plans on quietly divorcing her until an angel appears to him in a dream and tells him not to divorce Mary because she is carrying the Messiah. Joseph obeys.
Mary gives birth and Joseph sees the shepherds come to worship the Child and the Magi bearing treasures for them come to worship the Child. His jaw must have been on the ground.
Later, an angel again appeared to Joseph in a dream, and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child and kill him.” What did Joseph do? He obeyed. He got up in the middle of the night and with his wife and child fled to Egypt. God had already provided financing for the trip through the gifts of the Magi. Later, Joseph would be visited by an angel again and summoned out of Egypt and again he obeyed, left Egypt and settled his family in Nazareth.
To summarize, Joseph was an average person who heard from God and did what God told him to do.