moon from everestFor Christians, Jesus Christ is the essence of Christmas. Everything else is negotiable. Traditions and trees and gifts are temporary… but Jesus Christ as God incarnate is eternal.

God became a Man and entered our world. The everlasting Creator left His throne in heaven to take on human form and live in a body like one of us. His entrance was anything but peaceful. Herod was on the throne and Israel was under Roman occupation.

God chose one of the darkest hours to introduce His Light into the world. Consider Matthew 2, verses 1-12 where we meet two very different kinds of people.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

   “ ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’ ”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.”

After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him.

Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. [ESV]

In these verses we find a great variance of response to Jesus’ birth. The wise men were compelled to worship the new King, but Herod wanted to kill Him. But both parties converged on this scene in history.

The Light had come into the world and that Light was drawing worshipers, but wicked men loved darkness because their hearts were evil.

Those same two responses to Christ are seen in our day as well. Those who reject Jesus typically ignore the true meaning of Christmas and choose to focus on cultural rituals and personal traditions. But those who love Him, delight in the truth of His incarnation.

In Matthew 2, we learn that true worshipers are sovereignly drawn by the Father of Lights, while those who insist on self-rule are doomed to fear and ultimate defeat.

The worship of the magi and the opposite response of Herod both point to the true identity of King Jesus. Because Jesus was the true King, the wise men sought to worship Him. Because Jesus was the true King, the foolish king sought to slaughter Him.

If you are a true believer, an obedient follower of Christ, then your heart desires to please Him. You are compelled to worship Jesus with your thoughts, and words, and actions.

May this contrast in Matthew 2 prompt you to respond more reverently and more fully to Christ during this Christmas and New Year.

With joy in His coming,
Pastor Kevin