Dec23FriDecember 23, 2022
Shepherds and wisemen. They were the first of mankind to hear the proclamation of the good news of Jesus birth. God breaks the 400 years of silence from the Old Testament to the new with a host of Angels singing in the heavens: Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good will to men! I would have loved to be there. What a wonder, what an awe inspiring moment it must have been! The sight of angels alone would have had my heart pounding in excitement and to hear them sing would have been an explosive joyous experience. Can you see it? Hear it in your minds eye? In the midst of all the brokenness and darkness at the time, shepherds witnessed the glory of God breaking through and at the perfect time they were given good news. Something incredible happened in the midst of that night. The glory of the Lord shone around them and they experienced that in Gods presence there is fullness of joy. They learned that even in the darkest of night, God is there. He had not abandoned them. They saw the dark night of human history broken into by the Light of the world. Can you put yourself into this scene? Can you sense Gods goodness? Can you see that the darkest night does not have the final word?
I had to wonder though, why did God chose shepherds and wisemen? You know, I can’t think of anything at all that they would have had in common. Nothing comes to mind. One group is poor and probably not at all educated, the other rich and studious. One group comes from foreign far away land, the other comes from hills and valleys. The shepherds were nobodies. The wisemen incredibly respected. The only thing that I can think of that would have bound them together was the stars. The wise men were probably astronomers since they noticed a different star in the sky, and the shepherds watched their flock by night under the covering of the stars. They too probably gazed endlessly at the wonder of the night sky. But other than the stars, these people likely had nothing else in common.
I think of the shepherds and than turn my gaze to the wise men, and you know what I see? I see two different cultures, two completely different people in opposite jobs, I see poor and I see rich, I see educated and uneducated. I have to smile. Isn’t it amazingly beautiful and wonderful? Wonderful that God meets everyone, calls to everyone, works His will through anyone regardless of the status, of the job, of the culture? God can do His will through the least and the greatest, far and wide, reaching people from all walks of life.
The lesson? In Christ, we all have something in common. He is the thread woven throughout our lives that binds and connects us to each other. Everything about us that is different only serves to compliment the other, as we can witness in the working of the body. Think about it. The wise men would have never been in the same chapter sharing in the same story with the shepherds if it weren’t for Jesus. What else could have pulled them together?
This season, I pray for all believers to see that we share a common ground and His name is Jesus. Let Christ be the foundation that we all build upon. We can build with different tools and in a myriad of various ways, each bringing their own unique talents into building, yet still working with the same purpose. One isn’t above the other, neither is one more or less important, but all are servants of the Lord and of each other.
Both the wise men and the shepherds don’t hesitate to go and see the Christ Child after they heard the truth of His birth. Listen to the account of the shepherds: “And in the same area there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And then an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were very afraid. But the angel said to them, “Listen! Do not fear. For I bring you good news of great joy, which will be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign to you: You will find the Baby wrapped in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly there was with the angel a company of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, and good will toward men.” When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they came hurrying and found Mary and Joseph, and the Baby lying in a manger.”(Luke 2:8-16)
They came hurrying! No hesitation at all. Do we hurry to see and hear Jesus? Is the good news of Christ great joy to us? Or do we drag our feet coming to Him? I pray that we will be filled to the full with this same unspeakable joy. I pray that we would so grow in love with Jesus that even the mere mention of his name causes rejoicing to burst forth from our heart. May the words of the shepherds also be in us : “Let is NOW go! Let us now go and see!” May we see that our coming is a beautiful act of faithfulness. He sees our coming as an act of worship and takes the circumstances we bring to His feet, transforming them into something beautiful.
Listen to how the wise men responded to the news of a coming King: “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, wise men came from the east to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who was born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where Christ should be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what the prophet wrote: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are no longer least among the princes of Judah; for out of you shall come a Governor, who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ” Then Herod, when he had privately called the wise men, carefully inquired of them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring me word again, so that I may come and worship Him also.” When they heard the king, they departed. And the star which they saw in the east went before them until it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with great excitement. And when they came into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary, His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”(Matthew 2:1-11 )
They rejoiced with great excitement at the sight of the star which was their guide to Jesus. Today, we can say that the star is the Word of God, which leads us to Jesus. Does the Word excite us? Does it bring exceedingly great joy to our hearts? If not, we have to ask why it isn’t. Why wouldn’t we be excited to be with Jesus? Ask yourself this: Can someone bring you joy if you don’t share a relationship, if you haven’t had any experiences together? Joy comes from being with someone, from sharing your heart, from receiving love and giving love. Being in the presence of Jesus creates the joy we seek after, it brings the fulfillment our hearts long for, but it requires our coming. The wise men came, and though it probably wasn’t a short or easy journey for them, they still came.
If I think about it, I’m honestly amazed at the faith ,the obedience, and the sacrifice the journey required for the wisemen. They went on faith, believing this star would lead them to Jesus. They didn’t have 100% assurance of this. They didn’t have that much information to go on. Yet they believed enough to set out on a journey that wasn’t easy at all. It wasn’t like they could get in a car or go on a plane and be at their destination by nightfall. In all likelihood it probably took them 2 years from the time the saw the star to the time they reached their destination. For they went into a house where the young child was with his mother, so Jesus was no longer in the stable nor was he called a baby. Plus Herod killed all the children 2 years and younger, implying it had taken the wise men that amount of years to reach Jerusalem. 2 years. That’s what I call traveling by faith.
I have to stop and ask, am I traveling by faith? When the journey gets long do I have the perseverance to see it through to the end? When I face hardships, when I get weary, when it seems that I’m never going to see my miracle, can I continue on by faith, believing I’ll see the goodness of the Lord? It’s easy to worship when you’re in success, your crushing it, life is good, it’s a whole other story when your worship comes in the midst of obstacles, opposition, or from a broken heart. This is called a sacrifice and its incense is a sweet smelling aroma around the throne of God.
How about obedience? When the wisemen were told in a dream not to go back to Herod but to travel a different way home, they could have shrugged it off and said, “Ah, it’s just a dream. Herod helped us out, seemed to be a nice guy, and we promised we’d come back and tell him where Jesus is so he can worship him as well.” They could have easily said this, they could have gone with their own understanding and gone back to Jerusalem. But they didn’t. They were obedient even though it might not have made sense to them.
Are you obedient to Gods voice? Do you yield yourself to obey Him even when you don’t understand? Do not lean on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall make your path straight. What a great promise! Faithfulness in the smallest requests from God leads to greater trust. If there is one lesson that we can learn from the wisemen it is submission to Gods word. If it might seem like the smallest thing and not that important, I pray we have the understanding that if God commanded it, it is of the utmost importance. How can He trust us with much if we aren’t faithful in the least? It’s just so much better to place your hand in His and say, “Lead me on Lord, for I trust in You. You are the best GPS, so position me. May your gracious spirit lead me on level ground!”
Lord, help us to be wise men and women who are not misguided by the world or the tactics of the enemy. Teach us obedience and we pray for strength to keep on going in this walk with you. Help us to see the journey through until the end. Lord, show us what the most precious gifts are to you, for we desire to worship and honor you with the best. Like the wisemen, may we dedicate our time to always seek your face, to show faithfulness in doing your will, to give with abundance and cheerfulness, to build your kingdom. Thank you Father for not turning a blind eye towards us, instead you gave us a Savior. We thank you, praise you, and honor you! You will forever be our exceedingly great joy! We bless your name Lord Jesus, amen.