For many, Christmas is a time like any other, maybe a time to shop more but surely it is a time to get on with their lives. The question remains- Is this was Christmas should truly be about?
The Scriptures in Mathew 2:1-12 give an account of the happenings during the time that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. One writer said that during this time, it was not His birth that made news but rather the expected census that did. A lot of what was happening then is happening now. The Government of the day was giving gifts to some to curtail their plans of an uprising, thereby expecting conformity. There existed racial tensions even as interest in national matters increased. Jesus arrived in difficult times. The people were more interested in their own lives than in anything else so that Herod, alongside the rest of Jerusalem, was disturbed by the news of His birth. There are therefore three responses that we can perceive from this Biblical account.
Firstly, there existed an indifference or apathy amongst the people. Similarly in our world today, we see people who will certainly continue in their routines with or without Christmas. The Scribes or the Magi who came to Herod knew from Scripture that the king of the Jews would be born in Bethlehem at about that time. But knowledge alone is not seen to have helped much as this was common information to all the others who knew what the prophet had earlier spoken concerning Jesus. In our circumstances today, we observe that many people know about Christmas but this knowledge does not translate in anyway into transformation for their lives. May the Lord give us that grace to translate the knowledge that is in our heads into our hearts
Secondly, we observe that Herod heard the disturbing news and was promptly led to a selfish and sinister response. He had no good motive concerning the birth of baby Jesus, infact Mathew 2:9 tells us, "Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared". Why did he feel a need for secrecy if his response was coming from a clean heart. Are we not the same in bowing down to our own selfish desires? Are we not the type of people who perpetually argue with God because we want to gratify our own desires?
The third response we observe is that one of the Magi . Mathew 2:11explains, "On coming to the house, they saw the child with His mother Mary and they bowed down and worshipped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh." These men worshipped the Lord with thanksgiving and we too should see Christmas as a time of worshiping He who gave His life to us. The Magi made a long journey to come and see the King, they sacrificed their time, their effort and their resources. God is looking for such worshippers who are not coerced into worship but who recognize what Jesus and hence Christmas really signify. It does not matter whether or not Jesus was born on some exact date, what matters is that He was born, and for a reason..
Sometimes we start off well in the journey of knowing Jesus but lose our concentration on the way. Luckily our God is God of second chances and is willing to take us on when we redirect ourselves to His path. We should never give up on our journey to look for Jesus. And when we are going about finding Him, we should not forget to bring a special gift to Him as well as He is responsible for prospering us in the whole year. It is in this spirit that we share with those who are unworthy or undeserving of our love, those who have hurt us but need to be forgiven, our parents who have worked so hard to see us to where we are now, those that contributed to our lives, or also those that did nothing. If we take these gifts to the house of the Lord, they will benefit many. It is in having a lifestyle of sharing, educating those that are less fortunate and catering to the needy that we gain the full understanding of Christmas.
Christmas time simply means a time to bless others.
All the people in the account of Mathew 2:1-12 learnt of and reacted differently to the baby Jesus; some were indifferent, some were defiant but others still bowed to Him in submission and surrender. We too can choose which of these people we want to be. Transformation can start now!
Christmas is good news and gives us hope as we think of an incarnate God who dwelt amongst us in the person of Jesus Christ. This Jesus can therefore be born in our lives when we start meeting the needs of others around us- when we bless them with love, or when we identify and meet their needs. Let it not be Business as Usual this time round.
May these words (sermons), from various men and women of God be a blessing to all.