"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem village, Judah territory— this was during Herod’s kingship—a band of scholars arrived in Jerusalem from the East. They asked around, “Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the eastern sky that signaled His birth. We’re on pilgrimage to worship Him.”
When word of their inquiry got to Herod, he was terrified—and not Herod alone, but most of Jerusalem as well. Herod lost no time. He gathered all the high priests and religion scholars in the city together and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”
They told him, “Bethlehem, Judah territory. The prophet Micah wrote it plainly: It’s you, Bethlehem, in Judah’s land, no longer bringing up the rear. From you will come the Leader who will Shepherd-rule My people, My Israel.”
Herod then arranged a secret meeting with the scholars from the East. Pretending to be as devout as they were, he got them to tell him exactly when the birth-announcement star appeared. Then he told them the prophecy about Bethlehem, and said, “Go find this Child. Leave no stone unturned. As soon as you find Him, send word and I’ll join you at once in your worship.”
Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time!
They entered the house and saw the Child in the arms of Mary, His mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped Him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh." Matt 2:1-11 (Msg)
Christmas is traditionally about gifts; giving and receiving gifts. Our commercialized culture has capitalized on this. Mom's and dad's spend time thinking, searching and shopping for just the right gifts for their children.
The question that came to my mind as I read Matt 2 was, what gifts will I bring to Jesus this year? As we celebrate Jesus' birthday, what gifts will we bring to Jesus?
Have we ever compared the amount of thought, effort and time we spend on finding presents for loved ones with finding presents for Jesus?
Why did the Magi bring gold, frankincense, and myrrh?
What will we bring?
I think about the time and effort the Magi put in to seeking out Jesus to give Him these gifts. They interrupted their jobs, families, friends and their location to devote to seeking out this new born child.
What time and effort do we put into seeking and giving to Jesus?
When you celebrate someone's birthday, what if you forgot to get that person a birthday gift or forget to wish them a "Happy Birthday" or celebrated others without celebrating the birthday person?
What will we do this Christmas to celebrate Jesus?
Seeking to not miss Jesus' birthday together,
“Bear with one another any grievance you have against each other. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13
Not long ago, something happened in Texas that made waves around the nation. It occurred during the trial of a former police officer who claimed to have entered the wrong apartment after returning home from work. According to her testimony, she opened the door, saw the apartment’s rightful resident, believed he was an intruder, and shot and killed him. After hearing her case, the jury found her guilty of murder.
Then something amazing happened in that courtroom.
The victim’s 18-year-old brother took the stand to give an impact statement. On earth, this young man will never see his older brother again, never hear his voice or receive his advice or laugh with him. Their family will never again celebrate Christmas together. Yet, face-to-face with the woman who took his brother’s life, this young man said these remarkable words:
I don’t want to say twice or for the one-hundredth time . . . how much you’ve taken from us. I think you know that . . . If you truly are sorry . . . I forgive you. And I know if you go to God and ask Him, He will forgive you . . . I love you just like anyone else. And I’m not gonna say I hope you rot and die, just like my brother did . . . I don’t even want you to go to jail. I want the best for you . . . And the best would be, give your life to Christ.
When he finished, he asked the judge if he could hug his brother’s murderer. The judge said, “Yes.” The former officer ran into the young man’s embrace with tears streaming down her face.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Who do you need to forgive?
Maybe the best gift we can give this Christmas is the grace-filled gift of forgiveness.
Seeking to forgive together,
Pastor Chris Reinertson enjoys all sports, especially those involving a ball. He loves to hang out with people and challenge them to be Jesus REVolutionizers.