Word for Word 1/5/22

Pr. Matthew Majewski
Pr. Matthew Majewski

When we consider the nativity scene, we see that everyone that gathered to worship the Christ child had a special messenger sent to tell them of Christ’s birth.  Mary received a visit from the angel Gabriel; Joseph heard from God in dreams. The shepherds’ quiet night was interrupted by a host of angels, and the wise men heard the message from a silent star. Though each heard in a different way, they all responded to God’s message.

There were others in the Christmas story who heard the message, but did not find a place beside these faithful worshipers.

Herod heard the message from the religious elite of Jerusalem. But he received it as any pagan king might - with fear and hatred. His mind could understand that God’s promise would be born in Bethlehem, but his heart was so full of a desire for power and fear for his throne that he could not accept the blessing of God’s king of love and salvation.

Strangely, the religious elite of Jerusalem had a similar reaction as Herod, though the motive seems to have been different. They knew the location of the Messiah’s birth.  It was right in the Old Testament Scriptures. But they did not go to Bethlehem to meet their own promised Messiah. It seems that they were so afraid of how Herod might react to such a journey that they never thought of coming to worship Christ. Their fear of Herod was far more real to them than were all the promises that God said Jesus would bring.

Of course there were also the people of Bethlehem who were roused from sleep by the joyous shepherds.  Did any of them come that night or even in the next few days? Surely there must have been the curious, or at the least local gossips looking for something new to talk about. But curiosity is a far cry from worship, and such a visit was never worthy of mention in the Bible’s record of that night.

Though the first Christmas was so long ago, we must confess that we as people have not changed much.  There are the faithful who come to worship the Christ child over Christmas just as they do on any other Sunday. But there are many others who pass by with too many other concerns, dreams, or fears to be bothered with the Baby in a manger. Maybe a curious glance, maybe attending the special Christmas church service, but nothing like the worship of the humble shepherds or the sacrifices of the mighty wise men.

If that describes you, let me encourage you to give thought to what this story is all about. The Bible says, “God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”  (Galatians 4:4-5) That means Jesus came into the world and became human like us. He was also under the authority of the law, even though He never broke God’s law.

But we have broken God’s law.  No man yet has kept the 10 commandments; therefore we need redemption. Redemption means that Jesus would take our punishment on the cross and in so doing would open the way for us to be reconciled to God.

This message of Christmas is the best news that mankind has ever heard. It is the message of “peace on earth and goodwill toward men.”  (Luke 2:14) If you haven’t taken the time to consider what that message means for you, let this be the year when you put your faith in Jesus alone for your eternal salvation.

Pastor Matthew Majewski
Center Baptist Church