Tuesday, December 28, 2010


A Day Late and a Dollar Extra

Matthew 2

Well, it's still sort of Christmas so- So I think we should keep carrying the good times on for as long as possible. It's a little after Christmas- the initial hustle and bustle is over. The presents have been opened, the carols have been sung and the Christmas feasts have been mostly gobbled all up. And now once the snow settles we're following our calendars again... waiting for Christmas to come once again. I dont know about you, but I feel a lot like the three wisemen during Christmas. I have to really work to get the Christmas feel going before the 25th comes along. And once it does come, Christmas eve is nearly always upon me and I dont really feel like I have very much time to soak it in. When the Nativity story talks about Marry Pondering all these things, I often find myself jealous, just a little, anyways. I feel like the Wisemen because they showed up late for Christmas too. -I wonder if all the long journey back to the East where their homes were, they had time to think about all they saw and experienced. I dont know about you, but I have work on Monday... Me and the three wisemen- we saw it coming a long way off and we spent a whole year getting to it. I think following this star has brought us to Jesus. And Jesus is able to teach us through the very act of how we celebrate Christmas now adays how we ought to treat everyone. About how we ought to love and care for our friends and our family- that we should look forward to time we spend with them. We should treat it like something special- because it is. God blesses us with each other the whole year, and because of who Jesus is, we know what it means to love. Through Jesus, we are led to Easter, yes. We come to know the extent which God went to bring us to him in Heaven- but I also think how he came on Christmas shows us how to live each day with ourselves and others. And if we could do this, and put it into practice we will find that God truly deserves the faith he asks us for- and confidence ourselves as to how we choose to live our lives each day.

… and now for Matthew 2:

The Magi Visit the Messiah

1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] (English for Magicians- none of the early church fathers think they were kings) from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

Who were they? “Magi” anglicised word for Magic or Magicians.

-none of the early church fathers thought the Magi were Kings.

This is a good example of when something out of pop theology becomes taken for the thing itself.

It's anyone's guess what their names were or how many there actually were. The best guest to come down the pipe are Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar

Where were they from?

Some ideas include wise, devout men from China and India; Scholars from Egypt, Greece and Babylon; and Persians out of a religious, priestly caste.

3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;

for out of you will come a ruler

who will shepherd my people Israel.’[b]”

7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

The first thing you should know about Herod is that he was crazy. He tried to kill his sons off and any other potential heirs to his throne because he was paranoid anyone would remove him from power. The second thing you should notice is that even thought the chief priests and teachers of the law knew exactly where Jesus was supposed to be born- they still did not choose to follow the Magi.

9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

The Star is its own thing, I think- it's not some astronomical phenomena- but its own entity. I think that too often Christians are afraid of purely supernatural answers and so we feel the urge to force science and faith to match when, in fact, they don't have to. I dont think God is bound by the natural world, but can work through it if he wants to.

The Escape to Egypt

13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”[c]

16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

18 “A voice is heard in Ramah,

weeping and great mourning,

Rachel weeping for her children

and refusing to be comforted,

because they are no more.”[d]

FN-Bethlehem is a small place... it's no wonder no one else in history wrote about the genocide. It also makes someone Jesus' age unique locally. Herod gets overthrown a few years later and the whole place gets turned into a Roman province so...

The Return to Nazareth

19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”

21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

This is also the only thing we really hear out of the Bible about Jesus' childhood. The popular understanding is that Joseph was a carpenter- a more accurate idea is that he was an equivalent of a construction worker- a stone mason. “It is hard to kick against the ghodes”- Saul's conversion. Jesus probably worked with Joseph to help build a local Greek Theatre where he was exposed to popular classical drama.

Hearing from God and following Him can be tough. It can involve long years of silence and when the answer comes- sometimes it comes with its own time and from unexpected places we never could have imagined.

God does very kind things in our lives. Think about the Magi and the boding threat on Jesus' young life. God, knowing that was how Herod thought, could have booked Mary, Joseph and Jesus out of there straight away. But he wanted to give the Wise Men a chance to see Jesus. All the years im sure they were praying for God to get them on the road the next day- all the years God choosing not to answer the petition. It was for a reason. And the whole incident was nothing that either Jesus' family or the Wise Men could have controlled or orchestrated on their own. It's not like they knew their actions were making for a best-selling story- they simply acted like themselves and kept their eyes on God. So as God moves in our lives, it doesn't always have to be the big voice out of the sky or the heart-moving moments... many times there are plans meant to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future which, at one moment move with each step we choose to take and each breath we make, and at the exact same time, the beautiful will of God guiding us along too. I think when it comes down to it, we need to be able to feel we can really trust God- and also really be able to live our lives freely and confidently all at once.

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