How was your Christmas?
Certainly different from previous years I’m sure, but I hope and pray that you were still able to take precious moments here and there and find the wonder of the Nativity thrilling your heart and giving you strength and hope for the days ahead.
Were you given anything for Christmas that will equip you for the coming year?
Perhaps a pretty, patterned face mask...
Can you imagine being given gifts that would not only provide what you needed but would also make a kind of prophecy about your life?
We read in Matthew 2:9-12 of more visitors for the family from Nazareth, no humble shepherds heralded by angels this time, but an entourage of stargazers. Astronomers from a pagan nation bearing precious gifts to pay homage to the New King.
'When they had heard the king, (Herod) they departed;
and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them,
till it came and stood over where the young child was.
When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child
with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him:
and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts;
gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod,
they departed into their own country another way.'
Our nativity scenes and Christmas cards depict these men as three kings, always with crowns, camels and sumptuous flowing robes, but who were these wise men?
And what can we learn from them?
The Bible tells us very little about them, which is probably a hint not to focus too much on them; what God wants us to know He writes very plainly in His Word.
What we do know about them is that they were foreigners, we don’t know how many of them came or whether any of them were of royal descent, but we know that God delights in confounding our ideas of ‘the way things should be done’ and loves to surprise us - a manger of straw for the Son of God!
And yet perhaps though it is unexpected, it is apt that lowly sheep-watchers greeted the Great Shepherd of Israel, [Psalm 80:1] and pagan astrologers paid homage to the ‘Morning Star’! [2 Peter 1:19]
God speaks to unexpected people in extraordinary ways, but note that in His mercy, He goes to them and meets them where they are. For the Shepherds, that was out on the hillsides and for the astrologers - in the skies that they scanned each night.
You don’t need a sacred place, or a time-honoured set of rituals, to meet with Jesus, you just need an open heart prepared to follow and obey.
The wise men followed the star.
They had no idea where it would lead them,
but they knew they had to follow it.
Isn't it interesting to note that so often when we follow JESUS, not fully understanding everything, and perhaps feeling as if we are 'in the dark' - He provides the Light!
The Israelites were guided through the wilderness by a Pillar of fiery light, and the wise men had a shining star to show them the way!
So we too, as we enter this New Year, will be given Light if we follow our Lord Jesus faithfully. He will not leave us in the dark for long.
'I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.'
The star is a glorious picture of the Lord Jesus as the Morning Star Himself! Following Him, and looking alone to Him will lead us into the presence of Almighty God! This is joy inexpressible!
'We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable,
and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place,
until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.'
2 Peter 1:19**
So these men, who came from the East had open eyes and hearts, they had faith and they came bearing gifts, aware that the Child they would find was no ordinary little royal, but a unique King worthy of honour and glory.
As they laid such strange, grown-up gifts before the little boy,
I wonder what thoughts were going through Mary’s mind...
...with all the demands of motherhood and moments of the mundane, had she forgotten that she was bringing up the Son of God? If she had, these costly offerings would surely have reminded her!
Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.
Are our lives sometimes so full of the busy little moments,
that we forget that we are citizens of heaven?
Let the Bible be your constant reminder that
you were made for something more.
Which of your Christmas gifts this year has brought you true and total satisfaction?? Perhaps as we look at our homes we need to pause and take stock. The beginning of a New Year is an excellent time to do this!
Do our surroundings reflect our heavenly calling and citizenship? Or are we like everybody else, filling our homes, our stomachs, our lives with temporary stuff that will never bring us true peace and joy?
Perhaps the gold would provide for the family’s flight to Egypt, but more than that, it reminds us that Jesus is the King of Kings!
No golden crown for the Son of man on this earth, the only crown He was given was one crudely woven together, a wreath of wicked thorns jammed onto the head of our precious Saviour by mocking soldiers.
Frankincense, a costly resin used by priests in the temple as they served the Lord.
A reminder that Jesus Christ - is our Great High Priest, the Perfect One who represents us to God and stands in our place.
And Myrrh, the beautiful, expensive perfume used for embalming. A reminder that our precious Lord Jesus was born to die. To stand in our place and to die in our place then to be raised in power and glory to be crowned forever as King of Kings!
Today, pause and take a breath, and in the moment of stillness, read the following passage, follow the trail of light that Jesus’ life leaves, a golden thread for us to cling to and hold onto in our darkest days. And come, like those wise men of old, with an open heart to the Saviour, recognising Him as your King. Lay everything before Him and ask Him to rule and reign with grace and power in your life. Then, you too will know ‘exceeding great joy’ and be equipped for the days ahead!
who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage;
rather, He made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
He humbled Himself
by becoming obedient to death —
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place
and gave Him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Bible references from *Authorised (King James) Version and
**(c)2011 New International Version. emphasis added