Summary: Finding the central focus of Christmas in the busy society of America.
“Searching for Christmas”
December 3, 2006
Me: One of my favorite Christmas memories is of an event that happened when I was about six years old. I am the youngest of six kids, and Christmas around my house when I was growing up was a wild adventure. I remember on this particular Christmas that after I had been sent to bed, I heard a great deal of commotion and busyness taking place downstairs. My brother David and I tried to figure out what was going on and spent time guessing about what would be out as presents in the morning.
Christmas morning seemed so far away. Eventually we were awakened as we usually were by my oldest brother playing a Christmas carol on the piano. We would all jump out of bed and race to the hallway to line-up for Christmas. We had to wait until my parents opened the door before we were allowed in.
When the door finally opened we raced into see if there were any gifts that had been to big to wrap and were left by the tree for us. There in the middle of the living room were three shining new bikes. One was girl’s bike, obviously meant for my sister. The other two bikes were beautiful. I naturally went and jumped on the coolest looking one. It took my family several minutes to convince me that I had the wrong bike. I was on my brother, David’s bike. His was so cool. It was orange with a white seat and had hand brakes instead of the little kid foot brakes. How could this beautiful bike not have been mine?
Eventually I came to realize that there was no way my six year old feet would touch the ground on that bike and so I moved with some reluctance to my own new bike. It is amazing how something so great can be so messed up when you make a mistake like that.
You: Have you ever made a mistake like that? Have you ever thought something was so great, only to realize that you had missed the really cool stuff that life had to offer?
For many of us, Christmas can be like that. We get wrapped up in the trivia and the busyness of the season that we miss out on the great things tat could be ours by recognizing the really important things in life.
Today we are going to begin looking at the Christmas story and trying to find areas of application that can help make us more aware of what God would have for us this year.
God: Today we are going to be looking at a great story of Christmas in Matthew 2:1-12. This is the story of the visitors from the East, the magi, or in our tradition the “Wisemen” who visited Jesus.
“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem village, Judah territory—this was during Herod’s kingship—a band of scholars arrived in Jerusalem from the East. 2 They asked around, "Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the eastern sky that signaled his birth. We’re on pilgrimage to worship him." Matthew 2:1-2 (The Message)
There are some important things we need to know about these men.
The visitors are not Jewish.
These men come from the East, a common reference to the areas north and east of Israel that were called Babylon. It is now the present day land of Iraq. They were not kings, but astrologers and men of wisdom. They had apparently been told of the prophecies of the Jewish Messiah by the large exile population in Babylon.
The visitors recognized the uniqueness of Jesus.
These men probably did not understand him as God, or recognize him as deity, but they knew he was unique.
The term homage or worship is a word more likely to mean homage to royalty, not worship of deity. They may not have fully understood who Jesus was, but they recognized him as a special child.
The visitors refer to Jesus as royalty.
It is interesting to note that they refer to him as the “King of the Jews” not the one who will be king of the Jews. It is the understanding that from his very arrival on earth, Jesus was a king of the Jewish people. This is the same title used over his cross at his death.
The visitors from the East were the only ones in the city who recognized the birth of Jesus.
Except for a very select few people, the rest of the citizens missed who had arrived. They rubbed shoulders with Mary and Joseph; they heard gossip at the markets; and they had all of the Old Testament writings to point to the birth of the Messiah, yet they missed it.