all i want for christmas

by homer slack

Crowds gather as iPad Air goes on sale in UK. Diehard Apple fans queue overnight to get their hands on the new iPad Air Hundreds of Apple fans queued at Apple's flagship store in Covent Garden to buy the new iPad Air. Customers had come from all over the world to buy the 9.7-inch tablet when the store opened at 8am this morning. The first man to buy the iPad Air came from Moscow and was greeted by wild cheering as he left the store holding up his purchase. Others had queued from 5pm on Wednesday afternoon and camped out overnight for 15 hours to buy the tablet. (The Telegraph 1 Nov 2013)

The story in Matt. 2:1-6 speaks of another announced arrival and those who greatly put themselves out to get there and be among the first to have a close up encounter. The sad news in this story however, was that this news of the most important arrival ever never got a response that was anything near the response received by the announcement of the arrival of the iPad Air.  This story of the most important arrival in human history features four groups of people that continue to this day. They are:
1. The wise men-Those seeking Jesus
2. Herod-The Governing Authority
3. All Jerusalem-The Populis
4.The chief priests and scribes the Religious Leaders

The wise men
The story of the wise men who sought Jesus is one from which many lessons could be learnt. For the account of Jesus’ entry into this world to begin with Him being sought by Magi (the Zoroastrian priests of the ancient Medes and Persians) is in itself quite unusual. Jesus came onto His own, the Jewish people, so one would expect His welcoming party to be a Jewish contingent, not a group of Gentiles. For Him, the king of the Jews, not to find a place of birth inside the established world system (an Inn), but rather to be born in a stable was shocking enough but then that was followed by something equally unusual. His welcoming party were those He, a Jew, would normally consider unclean. This king was not fitting the bill.

Some believe these wise men would have travelled possibly hundreds of miles to find the birth place of Jesus, a distance that would deter the best of us. They placed a value on Jesus that His own people did not, they would stop at nothing in their efforts to find Him. Their life’s studies led them to a star that would be revealed at a specific time, that star led them to Bethlehem where they sought specifics by asking questions. “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” How was it they were the only ones who knew that Jesus had a star? What did they know about Jesus that caused them to speak with such assurance about His birth and the fact that it already happened? How was it they, though gentiles, were the only ones paying attention and observing the signs of His coming? - "They (the magi) might have said, 'If such a prince be born, we shall hear of him shortly in our own country, and it will be time enough then to pay our homage to him.' But so impatient were they to be better acquainted with him, that they took a long journey on purpose to enquire after him. Note, Those who truly desire to know Christ, and find him, will not regard pains or perils in seeking after him. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord....Note, There is more gross ignorance in the world, and in the church too, than we are aware of. Many that we think should direct us to Christ are themselves strangers to him.” - Matthew Henry

What people will do for a bargain they would not do for Jesus. When was the last time you saw people running, at the invitation of the preacher, to be saved?

So the wise men arrived in Bethlehem asking about the King that was recently born and Herod got wind of it. The news troubled him because there was indeed general belief that a king was due to be born and somehow the magi’s news hit home to Herod that this was real and not just another tale. As with Herod, the message of Jesus strikes terror in the souls of many today, people who can sense the truth but do not want to accept it, they believe their best chances rest in killing the truth, but truth cannot die.   Herod seeks Jesus not to worship Him but to kill Him. How many people know that the coming of Jesus will put a stick in their spokes, hindering them from sinning and carousing as freely and openly as they would prefer. Jesus is a spoil sport to them because they cannot continue with their planned agenda if Jesus is present.

All Jerusalem
Those who know and will do something about what they know tend to be in the minority. Those who know but cannot be bothered, along with those who do not know and do not care to know but will adapt to whatever is popular tends to make up the majority. “When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.” All Jerusalem had a choice, on hearing the news of Jesus’ birth; they could either take the side of the magi or that of Herod. They chose to be troubled with or by Herod. It is indeed very likely that if the leader is in a bad mood then the subjects will suffer but even then, why did not more people, upon hearing the news, make it their duty to find and worship Jesus? They were more caught up with their troubles than they were with the birth of the king. Typical isn’t it, while I have troubles I cannot be bothered with seeking Jesus.

The chief priests and scribes
Of all the groups mentioned above I found this group to be the most disappointing. This was the group that had specific knowledge. The chief priests and scribes had the predictions with the specific information concerning the birth of Jesus. Those most informed where those who were mostly unresponsive. The saying goes, “The nearer to church the further from God”. Those with the data lacked desire and the informed had no inspiration. Knowing the scriptures can do nothing for us if there is not a strong desire to know the God of the scriptures. News of the release of a new Apple product or gaming console would have people camping overnight and queuing for hours but news of the birth of Him who was to be born king of the Jews was only able to muster a positive response from a few gentiles from a foreign land, while His own people who had knowledge of His coming couldn’t spare a few days to search Him out.

Those who would like to keep their personal agendas on track are trying to destroy Jesus and everything to do with Him. They rally the crowd who neither know nor understand and encourage them to shout “Crucify Him”. Remember in your prayers the great number among us who have and know the bible but do not care to do what is written in it. But finally praise God for the unassuming, unlikely people who would stop at nothing to find and worship Jesus.