03 January 2018
Scripture: Matthew 2:1-12 (Click link for scripture on Bible Gateway)
For the shepherds and angels part of the story, we’ll have to wait until we get to Luke’s Gospel. Matthew begins his account of Jesus’ actual birth with something that may have happened up to two years after the wonderful event. Some wise men (royal astrologers) arrive in Jerusalem asking where to find the newborn King of the Jews so they can worship him and give him gifts. Evil King Herod hears of their search and sends them to Bethlehem to find the new “king” so he can have him killed. The wise men find young Jesus, worship him, and give him precious and valuable gifts. Then, warned by God, they bypass Jerusalem and return home another way.
The God of the Jews didn’t limit his communication of the wonderful event and the privilege of participating in his great plan to religious Jews. Pagan astrologers came to find the Child King, worshipped Jesus Christ, and gave his parents the valuable gifts that would sustain them as refugees in Egypt. They were sensitive to God’s guidance and direction.
This speaks to me again of our religious tendency to exclude those who aren’t part of our group. This tendency showed up again and again with the Jews, worked its way into the first generation church, and unfortunately even shows up in me!
Do you see this tendency in yourself as I do in me? When will we learn that “God so loved the (whole) world!”? How will we learn to open our hearts and minds to the great scope of God’s love and compassion for his world? How will we learn that the message is more about following Jesus and less about insisting that in order to belong, everyone has to become just like us? Hang on, friends! I think Jesus is going to help us with this!
Father, I see in myself the tendency to think that all the important stuff happens with my group—the people who look like me, who think like me, and who fit my profile of acceptability. Please help me and my friends who are reading this to search our hearts, examine our attitudes, and learn that “different” and “wrong” don’t always mean the same thing. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.