History As We Know It: We Three Kings

Mattew 2:1-12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod, 
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled, 
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, 
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, 
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.

Then Herod called the magi secretly 
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said, 
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word, 
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, 
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star, 
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures 
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, 
they departed for their country by another way.

When the magi saw the star rising in the east, they set forth from their homelands to search for the newborn king, that they might do him homage. When Herod heard of the birth of the newborn king, he sought him out as well, only his intention was to destroy him. The magi saw the newborn king as hope for the future. Herod saw him as a threat to his own future as king. These represent the different responses to the encounter with Jesus: to love him as hope for one’s future, or to hate him as a threat to one’s way of life. There is no middle ground with Jesus. As C. S. Lewis would say, Jesus doesn’t give us the option of liking him and admiring him as a great prophet or moral teacher. No! Anyone who made the claims Jesus did was either a horrible, evil liar, a lunatic on the level of a man who thinks he’s a poached egg, or the living Lord and God of the universe. Jesus claimed to be Lord and Messiah. He also claimed to be God. To make such claims knowing they are false is evil. To make such claims thinking they are true when they are not is lunacy. To make such claims knowing they are true is to be the incarnation of hope for the world’s salvation. The world can be a cold, dark place, and our journey through this life, for believer and unbeliever alike, can seem like a journey through a cold, dark tunnel. But there’s a light at the end of the believer’s tunnel, and that light makes all the difference. How will we respond to the news of the birth of the newborn king? Will we love him or hate him? Will we stand in the light or hide in the darkness? Jesus is the line of demarcation between eternal life or eternal death. Indifference is not an option. Choose life. Choose Jesus.

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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