|Posted on December 14, 2018 at 7:35 AM|
Image by Angeleses from Pixabay.
In my last blog post, I talked about the obvious dwindling number of nativities over the last few years. Whether you try to buy one or find one in someone’s yard, there aren’t as many around nowadays. Secularization has taken over in so many ways. Retailers find more money to be made selling Christmas trees, Santas, and cute penguins to jolly Christmas spenders. Religious groups vie for the spotlight attempting to eliminate the display of Hope we have to share with the world, the hope centered on the Christ figure quietly nestled in the hay filled trough. Where is the Baby Jesus?
Earlier this week I watched a video from a woman of a different religious persuasion rant about how Christians and Christmas dominate this time of the year in the U.S. She felt it was unfair to her religious group that their celebrations aren’t the predominant ones, as if forced to conform with Christianity. If she really examined Christmas, she would discover that most of Christmas in America is secularized. The Santa figure isn’t considered as the historical Bishop of St. Meinrad, but a blend of the beloved character from Samuel Clement Moore’s poem, “ ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” with the Santa image from Coca Cola ads that appeared the 1930’s. If you look through our calendars on our iPhones, you will find Kwanza and Hanukah strongly represented. What actually leads us in this holiday parade is the ringing of cash registers and the plinking of keys on computers and touches on screens of electronic devices shopping online for the UPS and FEDEX delivery trucks zooming down city streets ‘til late at night. It is very difficult to find baby Jesus in all of the hullabaloo.
I think our pilgrimage to Frankenmuth is wonderful because we readily find Jesus celebrated openly and without apology throughout the town. Yes, you will see the other figures displayed, but they are not the center stage act. Jesus’ birth is. Most churches set baby Jesus’ birth as the main event, too. When I took a special ornament we purchased at Bronners, there was a very attractive tract tucked in the bag with other handbills from the store. Very subtle and quiet, allowing us the choice to read it or not. Somewhere in the noisy mess, you can find Him, if you look for Him. However, there are many who would like to eradicate Him from every nook and cranny of this time of the year.
Read: Matthew 2:1-12
Focus Verse: Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
In the Matthew 2 account, we read that Jesus was born, but not the details like in the Luke 2 account. Instead, we are shown a scene of wise men, traditionally 3 even though we really don’t know, who are looking for baby Jesus. These men were wise, wealthy astrologers called Magi believed to come from Persia who saw a unique star in the East leading them to find the Messiah, the newborn King. They arrived in Jerusalem instead of Bethelem, though. Both cities were referred to as the City of David. https://www.britannica.com/place/Bethlehem" target="_blank">Bethlehem was where King David grew up tending flocks in that region, where he was crowned King of Israel. Jerusalem, the old city in modern times, was where King David reigned and ruled. The focus is on the lineage of David, both the birth and kingship of Jesus.
These dignitaries came to welcome the new King of Israel with royal gifts, but they found https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herod_the_Great" target="_blank">King Herod in Jerusalem instead. These men were lost in need of directions to find baby Jesus. Unfortunately, this played on King Herod’s ego. Heavenly signs were considered important which was a concern for Herod because falling stars and comets were used to predict the demise of a current ruler. Evidently, he was afraid he would be killed and this infant would be raised up as King in his place. Herod was always afraid of someone abdicating him from the throne.
Herod was not Jewish by birth, but descended from the Edomites, descendants of Esau. His family was proselyzed to the Jewish faith. His heritage explains why he was not the true king of the Jews through the line of David; rather took over the throne after his father Antipater’s death, who was assigned the position by Julius Ceasar. His heritage and 400 years of Israel’s lack of hearing from God through a prophet would explain his vanity and his infamous behavior.
After inquiring of the chief priests and scribes about the prophecy of the Messiah’s birth, and asked the Magi about the star’s timing and location, he told them to let him know where they find him, but he was secretly plotting to kill the Baby. God warned the Magi to take another route home. God announced Jesus’ birth to astrologers from a foreign land rather than the King of Israel. Astrology was condemned in the Bible, but it was the current “science” of the day. These men earnestly sought the Messiah while Herod had an ulterior motive rather than faith. God led the Magi to see Jesus and have safe passage home, not Herod. Faith overrules position. They did find Jesus in spite of the dangers King Herod posed, in the humble home where Joseph and Mary lived until God told them to flee to Egypt to protect the Infant King.
Faithful people will find Jesus when they seek him with all their hearts. Jesus can be found.Those who are not faithfilled, will only see what they want to see. He isn’t in the glitz and glamour of garland and lights. He isn’t in Santa’s sleigh guiding the reindeer. He isn’t hiding due to the danger of being wiped off the face of Christmas celebrations. He is quietly waiting for us to come worship Him. God says we will find Him if we wholeheartedly look for Him. God came down as a Baby to seek and save that which is lost. He has never been lost. We have. Even when His message may be silenced in the public we can sing of His praises in the humbleness of our hearts. Do you see the Baby?
NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, Notes from Matthew 2:1-12. Copyright © 2016 by Zondervan.
New International Encyclopedia of Bible Characters, Notes on King Herod, The Magi. Copyright 2001.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.
Herod the Great, Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herod_the_Great.
Bethlehem, Brittanica. https://www.britannica.com/place/Bethlehem