Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Learning from the wise men at Christmas

An article I wrote was published in our local paper today.

Learning from wise men at Christmas – by Pastor Chris Meirose

At Christmas we give attention to the cradle in the manger, but the cradle is meaningless without a cross that followed.  So each time we see the cradle, we should remember that Jesus’ birth would soon be given its full meaning by His death and resurrection.

Matthew 2:1-12 tells the story of some wise men who paid Jesus and His family a visit some time after that first Christmas.  They were following a star with an understanding of some of the Jewish prophecies that foretold of a Messiah who was to come.  Did the Wise Men know all the details and how all these prophecies would unfold?  Doubtful.  They were merely allowing the Lord to lead them in what they did, where they came, and what they gave.

There are a lot of lessons we can learn from this passage.  Perhaps the best thing these wise men did in this story was that THEY CAME TO JESUS.  Matthew 2:11 – “11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary”.  They left the palaces of whatever kings they were serving at the time, and made their way to meet the newborn king.  They knew the proper way to show respect for a king was to come in person and present themselves to Him.  Likewise, the gift that God deserves from us, and wants from us, is US.   He wants us to present OURSELVES to Him this Christmas season.  That hasn’t changed in 2000ish years.

Then once they came to Jesus, notice what they did in verse 11, THEY BOWED BEFORE HIM.  Matthew 2:11- “and they bowed down,”.  They showed the kind of respect due a king, they acknowledged His authority and importance.  They humbled themselves before Him, even though He was just a young child.  When God comes to you in whatever form or size we should bow before Him.

And the wise men didn’t just stop & bow down, but they also WORSHIPED HIM.  Matthew 2:11 - “and worshiped Him,”.  Humbling themselves, bowing down before kings was the usual way of showing respect.  However, this time they went beyond the normal, they didn’t just kneel down, they worshiped Him.  They recognized He wasn’t merely a human being.  They were worshiping Jesus as He really is, GOD in the flesh.  This Christmas we all need to do likewise and heed the invitation of the Christmas carol: “O come, let us adore Him.”

One final thing I’d love for us to learn today from the wise men in the Christmas story is - THEY WENT AWAY DIFFERENTLY THAN HOW THEY ARRIVED.  Matthew 2:12 – “12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.”  The “practical” explanation is that they went back in a way they would not be killed by Herod.  But the “spiritual” explanation of this is found in the Jewish tradition of going home through a different gate in Jerusalem than whichever one a person came through when arriving to worship at the Temple.  So if you came through the East gate, you might leave through the South gate.  It was to signify that they had truly worshiped that day, they had been in the presence of God.  The fact that Matthew records the fact that the Magi went home a different way was not lost on the Jewish readers of the Gospel he was writing to.  These well educated, important and distinguished men were transformed by their encounter with the Immanuel – God with us.  Let us also be changed in this season as these men of long ago were by Christ.

This year let us all keep in mind that the true way to celebrate Christmas, to worship Christ, is to let Him bring change in your life, a fresh awareness of His love for you, and to allow Him to work His perfect will within you and through you.  It’s all about Jesus.

If you would like to know more about First Congregational Church you can visit us on the web at http://WasecaChurch.org or join us for worship at 10:00AM each Sunday and 8:45AM for Sunday School (starting again in January), visitors are always welcome!

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