A Faithful Response?
1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
Advent is a time to reflect on God’s faithfulness. From the beginning when Adam and Eve fell, God promised he would send a Messiah to crush Satan’s head (Genesis 3:15). Over the centuries more promises were given – a virgin would be with child and they would call him Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14); he would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 2:2); one of David’s offspring (the Messiah) would reign on David’s throne forever (2 Samuel 7:16); the Messiah would suffer and die (Isaiah 53); and so many others that were fulfilled in Christ while others await his return to be realized.
But Advent is also a time to reflect on our faithfulness. How have we responded to God and all he has done for us? Have we responded to God’s incredible love and grace in sending Jesus to live the perfect life we were required to live and to die the death our sinful actions deserved.
This past week I pondered the contrast between the Magi and the religious leaders at the time of Jesus’ birth. If the Magi were from Persia as many traditions hold, Daniel and the other exiles had been there. For centuries since Daniel had lived among them, this group of star gazers were looking for a star. Perhaps Daniel and others told them the promises of God and the stories of his faithfulness. Over the centuries those stories were passed on from generation to generation. They knew a king was to be born. They knew he would be the Messiah. And they had been watching for the sign. They had been watching for the star.
When Jesus was born and the star appeared, the Magi loaded up their camels and took the dangerous 1300 kilometer trip through hostile lands to meet the Messiah.
Contrast that with the people of Jerusalem – the priests and religious leaders at the time of Jesus’ birth. They knew the Scriptures. They knew God’s promises to send the Messiah. They should have been watching and longing for his coming. Yet the Scribes and Pharisees and religious men refused to join the Magi for the short trip from Jerusalem to Bethlehem to see if God’s Word really was true. The religious leaders of the people were not faithful.
Not one priest, scribe, Pharisee, or teacher of the Law – no one – went to see if the Messiah might really have come. They missed out on one of the two most central events in human history. Gentile star gazers – the Magi – they were the ones who went and worshiped the King – Jesus.
Are we more like the Magi or the religious leaders? Are we looking with anticipation for God’s activity all around us? Do we make space for God in our daily lives? Are we being faithful to seek after him and to open our hearts and lives to whatever he might want to do in or through us? Or are we so caught up with our own lives and the things we want that we miss what God’s doing all around us. Do we spend more time trying to make people think we’re the people we want to be than letting God into our lives to actually transform us into the people he wants us to be?
God is faithful. He made promises and he has gone to great lengths to bring those promises to pass. Are we faithful? Are our lives different because Jesus is in them? Is our focus different? Do we spend our time differently? The Magi believed God’s promises and looked for their fulfillment. They were expectantly watching for what God would do. Are we living with the hope that God is faithful and he is active all around us?
Take time this week to let the wonder of Advent – the wonder of God’s love and grace in sending Jesus – sink in afresh. Consider God’s faithfulness…and consider yours. May we be a people faithfully watching and waiting for God to move – available and expectant – that we don’t miss anything he is doing in or around us! May our lives be full of faith…