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Jeff Long: As we wrap up

As we wrap up this holiday season, I’m reminded of the Christmas story — the birth of Jesus. While studying it, I came to a broader understanding.

First approached about the birth of Jesus were shepherds. Luke 2: 8-11: “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And this angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.’”

Why did God choose shepherds to bring this news? I feel shepherds are “on guard,” watching for differences in the environment being a threat or benefit. Maybe God tried to get others’ attention, but they weren’t “looking.” God still tries to get our attention. We must be like shepherds, “looking” for His signs.

What about that star? Matthew 2:2 tells of wise men and Herod, King of Judea. “Saying, ‘Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him.’” These wise men traveled days yet the star was always visible. I wonder how many saw this “star” without a second glance? If you look, you’ll still see a “star” leading to Jesus today.

Herod ask in Matthew 2:7 “ Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.” Herod knew of their journey and wanted them now to look for a young Child. Matthew 2:8: “And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘ Go and search diligently for the young Child …” One would believe if Jesus was a young child, the star would be gone. Wrong! Matthew 2:9-10: “When they heard the king, they departed; And, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was.…” So if we look for Jesus, we will be guided by a “light.” Could this be the Holy Spirit?

Everyone knows the Christmas nativity scene with Jesus in the manger flanked by the wise men — but Jesus was a young child, not a baby, when the wise men visited. Matthew 2:11: “And when they were come into the house they saw the young Child with Mary his mother, and fell down and worshipped Him.” Jesus was no longer in a stable but in a house; not a baby but a child. There’s nothing wrong with our representation of the nativity scene, but we should notice the time frame and effort the wise men underwent to find and worship Jesus.

The wise men brought gifts. Matthew 2:11: “And when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” We weren’t told how much or even how many wise men came. I picture a comany of many wise men and their staff making this journey.

I believe several Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled; one in Psalms 72:11: “ Yea, all kings shall fall down before him.…” We weren’t told that the wise men were kings, but we know they were scholars who were looked up to, maybe even kings. Another is in Isaiah 60:5-6: “Gentiles shall come into thee. The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense.…” This speaks of a multitude of camels, as well as the gifts spoken of in Matthew.

I believe God is giving us more than a story of the birth of Jesus in Matthew and Luke. He is trying to tell us to be like those shepherds, always “on guard,” looking for signs (star) to lead us to Jesus.

Admit to God you’re a sinner, believe in the resurrection and crucifixion of Jesus, and ask God for forgiveness. Look for God’s signs, put forth the effort however great it is, and find your Saviour, Jesus Christ. Then you too, can be a “wise man,” God bless all!

Jeff Long lives in Salisbury.

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