These three wise men had traveled from a long distance, relying on astrological charts and Old Testament prophecy…following this bright star in the Eastern sky. And on arriving in Bethlehem, they found the foretold King of the Jews and offered three extravagant gifts worthy of royalty…gold, frankincense, and myrrh. So on this special day of giving and receiving presents, we also have three gifts we can give the Christ Child. For Deuteronomy 6:5 tells us to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” These three gifts you have to give are unique only to you…for they comprise who you are…your mind, body, and spirit. Therefore, they make up the greatest gift you could ever give anyone today…especially the King of Kings.
For a moment, put yourself out on that grassy mountainside next to a campfire as you take your turn watching for wild animals that might attack the flocks. Some of your fellow shepherds are dosing…some quietly talking….when suddenly this brilliant being stands in front of you, declaring the Messiah has come! And before you can even start to take this in… a great company of heavenly host appear. It would be like bottling every flash of lightning that’s ever happened…and then turning them all loose at the same time! And as if that wasn’t enough, these heavenly beings perform a song for you…saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.” But as quickly as they appeared…they disappear…and you’re left to collect your wits and take a deep breath, all the while thinking about what you’ve just witnessed. Someone suggests traveling down to Bethlehem to see if this is true…and so off you go. And sure enough, just as the angel said, you find this tiny baby in a cattle stall… sleeping in a hay filled manger. So what do you do with all this good news? You have to tell others about what you saw and heard, right? That’s when common, uneducated men boldly started declaring the fulfillment of God’s Word…and when lowly shepherds told others about the coming of the Good Shepherd.
Imagine being that Innkeeper. The usually small, unassuming town of Bethlehem was being over-run by people coming in for the required census. His rooms were already taken by travelers, when this couple approached…the wife, clearly pregnant. The husband pleaded for a place to stay…telling the Innkeeper the time was imminent for his wife to deliver. The Innkeeper hurriedly pointed to the stable where the farm animals were kept and turned away…too preoccupied with everything he had to do. And if Mary and Joseph had told the Innkeeper who this baby was…do you think it would have made a difference? Or was the Innkeeper just too absorbed…too focused on the tasks needed to be done to realize the Messiah was coming? Today, are you so preoccupied with all the things you think need to get done that you’ve delegated Jesus outside to the barn? Are you like that Innkeeper…so focused on your “to do” list that you’re going to miss the Messiah’s birth?
The wise men came searching from afar. They had discovered that magnificent new star in the night sky and determined it was a sign…a sign of royalty. And so they began their journey of discovery. So what are you searching for today? Peace, truth, comfort, hope? There is only one place to find what you’re looking for, and it’s in the Name of Jesus Christ…for He’s what you’re ultimately looking for. Nothing in the world will ever compare to Jesus and the love He has for you. And just like the Magi, your quest can conclude by bowing down and worshipping the Messiah.
This prophecy of the coming Messiah was quoted 700 years later by the Chief Priests and Scribes when King Herod asked where the Christ was to be born. In John 7: 25-44 we see Jesus at the Feast of the Tabernacles proclaiming that He was indeed the Messiah, only to see the skeptics quoting this Scripture again…but then mistakenly assuming He had been born in His home town of Galilee rather than Bethlehem. But God never makes mistakes…His timing is always perfect…His promises always fulfilled. This long-awaited Savior of the world had indeed been born in Bethlehem for us all.
The shepherds had just experienced the greatest light show ever…more sensational than the biggest fireworks display…more glorious than anything the world had ever seen. Mixed with their awe and wonder was excitement…they had just been told about the coming Messiah. No wonder they all agreed to, “go to Bethlehem and see this thing,(Rhema) the Lord has told us about.” They had been given God’s Word…the Greek word is Rhema…and their enthusiasm was infectious. And after they had found the Christ child, their elation didn’t wane, for in Luke 2:17 it tells us that, ” When they had seen Him, they spread the Word ( Rhema) concerning what they had been told about this child.” These plain, ordinary men were the very first missionaries, spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. They had no Theological degrees or advanced education… God’s Word had touched them and couldn’t contain their elation. They were compelled to tell others just as we should be. For the greatest story ever told is the one they spread…a Savior has been born to you; He is Jesus Christ the Lord.
Why did God choose to proclaim the coming Messiah to the shepherds? They were far from the politically elite…and at the other end of the spectrum from the powerful religious circle. So what did God see in that rag-tag group of blue-collar workers in that field outside of Bethlehem to warrant such a grand and glorious display to announce the coming of His Son? In a word, He saw us. He didn’t wish to address the political or religious bigwigs…He chose rather to tell the working class…people like you and me the good news of Jesus Christ. And this holds true today…the Lord Jesus Christ has come for you and me… common, ordinary people who need a Savior.
Caesar Augustus had given a command that the whole Roman Empire should have an official count of the population. So we see Joseph and Mary headed to Bethlehem…Joseph’s home town to be recorded. This earthly father of Jesus was a kind carpenter by trade…a conscientious Jew who adhered to the Law…but who had to totally trust God when he found out Mary was pregnant. This quiet man had to work through hurt, confusion, and wounded feelings to rely solely on the Lord’s promise of the coming Messiah.
God had sent the Prophet Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint one of Jesse’s seven sons as King. As six strapping young men paraded past Samuel…each time he thought to himself, “This has to be the one!” But God reminded Samuel in verse 7, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” It wasn’t until the youngest son, David, was called from the pasture, that God declared, “He is the one.” This should give all of us encouragement…especially those who have said to themselves, “I have nothing to offer God.” The Lord doesn’t consider outward appearances. He looks only at what He can do through us if we’re a willing worker.
700 years later, in a quiet unpretentious little town, the Messiah was born. There was no fanfare, no pomp and pageantry…just a barn and a baby. The Lord would rather use the humble…the plain and ordinary to do His best work. Common, simple people are His very best instrument for some of His most wonderful miracles. Don’t ever dismiss yourself as someone God could never use…for in fact, you are exactly who He wants.