First I want to say that the thoughts and message contained in this post are in partnership with LifeHouse East, Hedgesville’s parent church. As a Network of LifeHouse Churches, we look to share resources and ideas because God blesses us through our unity.
Ever had a time in life where you were afraid to ask the tough questions about God – about faith – for fear you’d be considered faithless by your peers? A time where your faith was merely what you were told to believe – a blind faith – an absent-minded religion?
I know there have been times in religious circles where I have felt like “to ask a contradictory question about God and faith was the same as asking to be placed in the firing line for execution.” You just didn’t do it.
But, I think Jesus told us to seek God, and in seeking, we will find Him.
So, is it okay to ask questions – tough questions – that stem from doubt and lack of understanding? You bet ya, because in asking these tough questions, you find truth. In asking these tough questions, God stirs in your spirit to research, to pray, and to ask other questions that lead you to the truth He wants to reveal to you.
Now here’s a tough question: Is the nativity scene as we see portrayed in people’s lawns, in Christmas plays, or even in video clips portraying the birth of Jesus a true representation of the story?
Matthew 2: 1-2 – After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”
Now who were these Magi? They were called wise men, Magi (which is the Greek root for “magic”), from the East (probably Arabia, Persia). Most likely were a class of Medes. They were scientists, portrayed as astrologers, and definitely not Jews or believers of the Messiah. We assume that there were three, based on 3 gifts, and were spoken of as kings in light of Isaiah 60:3.
To sum up the Magi, they were unbelievers who studied science, astronomy, and literature. Yet through their studies of all cultures of that day, they knew something important was happening and sought out to find this King of the Jews.
Matthew 2: 3 – When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.
Why was King Herod disturbed by the Magi’s search for truth? He was disturbed because he feared his power would be challenged and his way of life threatened. And this is a classic response to the Invitation – to resist, to fight, to try and destroy the truth of the Invitation.
King Herod DID NOT want to know or discover the Invitation to know God. Here was the very child within his governing province, yet Herod chose to be ignorant to the fact that this was the Promised One from God. He didn’t even know there was a glamorous star in his neck of the woods. He chose lies and false meaning, which in his mind was, a baby that would grow and take over his earthly throne.
Matthew 2: 4-6 – When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “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 be shepherd of my people Israel.”
Here we see that even though the priests and teachers of the law knew the prophecy from their studies and training, they had no clue that the Invitation (baby Jesus) had even come. The Promised One they had been hoping for all these years was right in front of their eyes, and they had no idea. You know why? They didn’t know because they weren’t looking. They were just busy going about their daily religious duties.
Matthew 2: 7-12 – Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” After they heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold, and of incense, and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Remember that tough question about the Nativity Story Scene – Is it realistic? The answer is NO.
If you study what we just read in verses 7-12, what do you see?
1. You see that the star had been in Herod’s province for a while, and yet it was just another star for Herod and the people of that region,
2. The star led them to a house, and
3. In the house, they only found Mary and Jesus.
So the scripture tells me that the Magi didn’t come the night Jesus was born to find Him wrapped in swaddling cloths lying in a manger with Joseph, Mary, and the shepherds looking over Him. They came years later. In fact the scripture tells us as we read the rest of Matthew 2 that Herod was so mad that the Magi had outwitted him that, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi, he ordered all the male boys 2 and under in Bethlehem and its vicinity to be killed.
The interesting thing about this part of the story is that Jesus is a Jew and yet His own did not recognize Him. They weren’t even seeking for Him, let alone prepared for Him when He did arrive on the scene.
Yet the Magi (pagan by nature) questioned, searched, and journeyed to accept the invitation to meet Jesus – the Truth. They used every avenue possible to find the answer, which they actually found as a toddler in a home in Bethlehem.
So the real question that needs to be asked is: What example and challenge do the Magi provide to us?
God’s Big Idea is this: Seek TRUTH
Christmas embodies The Invitation of God to SEEK TRUTH, and when seeking truth we find it. Now, we’re not going to find it in science, astronomy, astrology, or literature. We’re not even going to find it in theology (the priests and teachers of the law knew theology). And though these avenues can provide some truth, the ultimate truth comes in seeking God from His Word, the Bible, and accepting the Invitation of forgiveness in Jesus.
In order to seek the truth, the Magi studied, investigated, and pursued it; and when they discovered that truth in the coming of the King, they chose to journey to find Him by following a star for probably 3 to 6 months, plus. So the ultimate question is: How far will I go – how far will you go – to accept God’s meticulous Invitation to meet Him?
Matthew 7: 7-8 – Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
This is not some prosperity principle. Rather it speaks to knowing God and His Truth, nothing more. Yet, this is the greatest treasure any of us could ever hope to find. As this same scripture is shared with us in Luke 11 – this treasure is God’s gift of the Holy Spirit to direct and guide us in truth.
But notice, in order to receive the benefit, you and I must first take action – we must ask, seek, and knock. If you want to know truth, then you have to go on a journey to find it, just like the Magi did.
Where are you today? Do you want to continue with the status quo of faith? Or, do you desire the righteous, holy life that God desires for His children?
Well, the first is simple – you want the status quo, do nothing. By doing nothing, you get nothing, and God is not pleased because He so wants to share His truth with all of us.
But the latter, is just as simple – you want righteousness and holiness, seek to know the truth through study, investigation, and journey.
Yea, there’s some work involved, but God promises that our labor will not be in vain.