Friday, December 19, 2008

Attitudes of Advent (part 2)

To continue from yesterday... I'm taking a look at the individuals within the Christmas story. I think we miss the majesty and awesome grace in the Christmas story, when we water it down to the simple nativity scene.

The Magi (wise men)...

Not much is known about the Magi that came looking for the Christ-child. In fact, we don't actually know that there were three of them. The number of magi is implied or deduced from the number of gifts that were given. A few Biblical facts we do know: the came from afar, followed a star, stopped to talk to Herod, gave their gifts, and went home another way. They weren't actually their on the first night of Jesus' life. To be more accurate, they would have been there around His second birthday. (This is why Herod had the male children two years or younger killed) So, off the bat, the idea that the magi were in the nativity is false. But, they do represent one very important thing. The rich, majestic magi came to bow at the feet of Jesus, just as the shepherds had done, both rich and poor, Jew and gentile, younger and older, came to adore the King of Kings at his birth. They set out from the home land, seeking the King that they could worship.


Most people overlook Herod as part of the Christmas story because of their misunderstanding of the magi. But, since we now realize that they weren't there the first night, let's look at what happened here. The Magi when getting near to Jesus, stopped at Herod's palace to inquire about the birth of Jesus. They had no idea that Herod didn't already know, or that he would want to harm Jesus. They just assumed that a king that was being born would be recognized by the ruling class there. However, the news of a newborn king did not make Herod very happy. He responds selfishly, asking the magi to send him word where the new king is then tries to kill Him.


Simeon is another character that people leave out of the Christmas story because of the timeline issue. When Jesus was still a baby, his parents brought Him to the temple to be presented to the Lord. There the priest, Simeon, recognizes the Savior, even as an infant. Simeon had been given a promise from God that he would see the salvation of Israel before he died. Simeon was waiting expectantly for God's promised redemption, and as soon as the baby Jesus enters the temple, Simeon acknowledges His presence. His expectant faith was ready and waiting for the fulfillment of God's initial promise to the forefathers of Israel and his person promise from God. Simeon is the first person to see Jesus in His righteous role as Savior, because he was the first one that saw the full context of Jesus' mission.

The attitudes that appear in the Christmas story are timeless. Even today, people react to the Christmas story, and to Jesus, in many different ways. However, if we are to reach them and complete our mission (or better stated: Co-Mission) from Christ, then we must help people to who are seeking, or those who are blinded by jealousy, to see Christ in context. As the one and only Savior of the world.

Merry Christmas to all of you. I hope and pray that you will be both blessed and encouraged as you celebrate the birth of our Savior.

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