31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 28 – Wise Men arrive

magi_tissot868x600

The Wise Men had arrived in Bethlehem. Mary, Joseph and Jesus lived about two years in Bethlehem and were out of the stable and living in a house by the time the Wise Men arrived. But who were these Wise Men? They were definitely from the East, probably Persia (modern-day Iran), and would have traveled about 800-900 miles by the stars to get to Bethlehem. The prophet Daniel had been chief of the court seers at an earlier time in Persia during the Jewish exile, so these men would have been familiar with Daniel’s prophecy regarding the timing of the Messiah.

They were learned men and confident of their knowledge too. They would not have traveled such a far distance on just a hunch. When they arrived in Jerusalem, they asked King Herod where the King of the Jews had been born. They already knew he had been born. And they already knew who He was.

They must have been important men too, in order to have the attention of King Herod. But Herod had not been expecting them – they came unannounced. That seems a little unusual, but perhaps the Wise Men knew of King Herod’s reputation as a ruthless King and thought it better to not cause trouble ahead of time. King Herod was also an Edomite, who came from the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s twin brother from their father Isaac. Esau had given up his birthright and blessing to Jacob, who later became the nation of Israel. Throughout the history of the Old Testament, the Edomites had always been at conflict with Israel, and now it continued with King Herod.

The Wise Men were not Kings themselves but Magi (magicians) or Astronomers. But they believed. They had studied the history of the Jews and their prophecies. Perhaps it is symbolic that Jesus was already having victory over darkness through these Magi. And King Herod and the rest of Jerusalem was not happy about it.

The Gospel of Matthew, chapter 2, tells us the story of the Wise Men’s visit:

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived unexpectedly in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

When King Herod heard this, he was deeply disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. So he assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people and asked them where the Messiah would be born.

“In Bethlehem of Judea,” they told him, “because this is what was written by the prophet:

And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the leaders of Judah:
because out of you will come a leader
who will shepherd My people Israel.

Then Herod secretly summoned the wise men and asked them the exact time the star appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you find Him, report back to me so that I too can go and worship Him.”

Of course Herod did not want to worship the child but to kill him. And how sad it is that all the chief priests and scribes of Jerusalem – those who knew the law and knew about the prophecy of Bethlehem – did not even want to go to see it for themselves. Had their hearts become that hardened and selfish that they did not want to see the truth?

May you open your heart to the wonderful possibilities that can come from knowing Jesus.

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 25 – The angels announcement to the shepherds

christmasangelannouncingthebirthofjesus

“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

The angels first proclamation of the good news was to the shepherds who lived out in the fields of the same country, watching their flock at night. The angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone all around them.

When the angels had left, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”
From the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2

Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice,
Let the sea and what fills it resound;
Let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then shall all the trees of the forest exult.
Psalm 96:11-12

Blessings to you this Christmas day!

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 24 – The birth of Jesus

jesus-joseph-and-mary

On a quiet unsuspecting night, the Savior came into the world. And the world has never been the same.

While Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough—because there was no room for them at the lodging place. – Luke 2:6-7

As the Christmas rush begins to quieten down, the stores are closing, the gifts are bought, and the world prepares to stop for a day, remember what this simple but profound birth means to our world.

No matter what you may be dealing with this Christmas season, and so many of us are, I pray that you will stop for a few minutes on this Christmas Eve and ask Jesus to surround you with His love and peace and hope. For Jesus truly is the reason for the holiday.

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 22 – Names of Jesus

nativity-trail

The trip for Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem was about 70-90 miles through mountainous terrain on foot. It would have taken them about 8-10 days to complete, while carrying all of their food, water, blankets and supplies. They were poor and had no place to stay once they were there. I’m sure they were wondering would happen once they got there. But were they also thinking of the earlier prophecies from Micah 5:2 that said a Savior would be born in Bethlehem, or from Isaiah 7:14 that said he would be born of a virgin?

As we wait for the birth of Jesus in the coming days, here are a few of the names and attributes that will be given to Jesus later in his ministry.

Good Shepherd – John 10:11
Light that shines in the darkness – John 1:5
Immanuel, God is with us – Matthew 1:23
Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world – John 1:29
The Word – John 1:1
Prince of Peace – John 14:27

May you experience the Peace, Light, and Good Shepherd of the One who can take away all your sin and give you a new life in Christ.

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 21 – Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem

mary-joseph-donkey

Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant. – Luke 2:4-5

Mary and Joseph are both descendants of King David. Joseph is from the line of David’s son, King Solomon, and a legal heir to the throne. Mary is from the line of Nathan, David’s other son, and therefore her biological children are blood-line heirs to the throne of David.

Both Mary and Joseph are from Nazareth in Galilee but they travel to Bethlehem in Judea to be registered, as decreed by Caesar Augustus. This is why Jesus is often referred to as the Nazarene from Galilee though he was born in the small town of Bethlehem.

All of this fulfills the prophecies as written 700 years earlier.

May you believe this Christmas, in the God who came down to earth to dwell among his creation, and to teach us how to love, to forgive, and to show us the way to eternal salvation.

* Merry Christmas *