The scene was set. The characters were in place. Mary and Joseph are at home, still fawning over their firstborn. While still in awe of his miraculous birth, they welcome unannounced visitors.
The magi arrived after following a bright and shining star that led them to Bethlehem. They were seeking the newborn king. In a nearby palace, a paranoid and insecure king eagerly anticipates discovering the location of the newborn threat. And don’t forget Jesus - he’s here too! Matthew 2:1-12 records the timeline of the events, and we become witnesses to a worship experience that is personal at heart and publicly pronounced.
Traditional storytelling says three wise men traveled via camel and showed up that night to find baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. It is assumed there were only three wise men to correlate with the three gifts given to the newborn king. Since baby Jesus was found in a manger, he was surrounded by barnyard animals grazing for their own food since their feeding trough was occupied. Most of our nativity scenes reflect this tradition with a smattering of shepherds, animals, wise men, angels, and a collection of people. Yet, there is more to the story than the traditional scenes and characters represented. Let’s look at the heart behind it all.
Our Hope: God So Loved the World
God’s heart for his creation was so big that he sent the greatest gift of all. He knew the only way to rescue the heart of mankind was to send his one and only son. Jesus, who was a part of the Godhead sitting in the throne room of eternity, now finds himself wrapped in flesh, walking the very ground created by him, through him, and for him. The heart of God is on full display with the birth of Jesus.
Look at Jesus. He is the apple of his mother’s eye, yet he is also God in flesh. He will mimic the actions of his earthly father and obediently do the will of his heavenly Father. Jesus’ heart for his family, friends, the silenced, the hurting, and the dying are proven through his life and death.
Our Response to God's Love
Mary and Joseph reveal their heart for their God when they faithfully and obediently agree to parent the newborn king. They weren’t prepared for this. There aren’t books on how to raise the Son of God as the son of a man. The ridicule. The rejection. They endured the pregnancy and life on the run to be jars of clay in the Potter’s hands.
King Herod’s heart is hardened and frightened. He isn’t looking for the newborn king to worship him. He’s looking for the newborn king to mute him and protect his own throne. Herod is in self-preservation mode. Jesus is a threat that must be dealt with. His actions reveal who he really worships. Himself.
The magi are excited to see the fulfillment of a promise. They are eagerly waiting to fix their eyes on the One who will lead by example. When they find King Jesus, their response is authentic and heartfelt. What do you give a king? You give him your best. They bow, worship him, and offer him what they have.
There is another heart that needs to be mentioned. The reader of the Christmas narrative. You and I! What are you going to do with Jesus? How are you going to worship him this Christmas? What will you give the King who has everything? What he wants the most is your heart. Give Jesus your heart. Let him be the King of your heart.
The Advent season begins four weeks before Christmas and is a time for us to prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus: his birth at Christmas and again at the end of this age. Each week of Advent has a traditional theme: hope, peace, love, and joy. Next week Pastor Dusty will share a message of peace.