…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14
Its the time of the year, Christmas, when we join the wise men and shepherds,
to worship, to stand in wonder, to be amazed
God in the flesh, God with us, Immanuel.
Each year, its always refreshing to read and watch the eye-witness accounts of His advent in Matthew & Luke….
Luke 2:8-20 (NASB)
8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. 17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.
Matthew 2:1-12 (NASB)
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, 2 “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:
6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah;
For out of you shall come forth a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” 9 After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.
After Jesus was born, Magi, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem.
They came a long, long way off … somewhere from the East.
They knew … the King of the Jews has been born
They saw … His star
They came … to worship Him
When the Jerusalem heard this …
King Herod was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him
Troubled, disturbed, … why?
Maybe, like an unscheduled guest … they were not expecting the Messiah to arrive so soon, so early.
Or maybe, the Messiah’s arrival … impacts the hierarchical status quo, religious schedules, routines; … socio-political upheavals of a new King?
Or maybe, it challenged their well-structured theology …. some unknown Gentiles simply guided by a star … announcing the arrival of the Messiah in Israel … heresy?
(the unknown little boy and the emperor’s new clothes?)
Incidentally, years later when Jesus entered Jerusalem as an adult,
The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered.
“Who is this?” they asked.
Matthew 21:10 (NLT)
… God’s unexpected visits …
After King Herod inquired the religious leaders, the chief priests and scribes,
they confirmed where Jesus would be born
They all knew the location … Bethlehem,
the wise men went to Bethlehem.
And he sent them to Bethlehem
Interestingly, through King Herod & the religious leaders,
the Gentile wise men learned which town they were to go to.
magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews …
The announcement to Jerusalem of Jesus’ arrival, was through Gentile wise men, possibly scientists observing the night sky, seeing a great star.
God uses unexpected people for his glory, Praise God!
Jews ask for signs (1 Corinthians 1:22) … and here was a clear sign for the city.
Besides the wise men from faraway … the inhabitants of Jerusalem could also clearly see the great star in the sky which the wise men spoke about.
The religious leaders had the complete copy of God’s word,
they studied, sang and followed parts of God’s word …
… they were not interested to welcome the King of the Jews,
to whom the scriptures was pointing to,
the King of the Jews … whom Israel throughout the ages was looking forward to.
Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?
The wise men from the East only had a fragment of God’s word.
but … the fragment was good enough for them, to make the long journey to worship the King of the Jews.
While the religious leaders studied about Him
…. the wise men were seeking Him.
The religious leaders read, sang & studied the text, followed the rituals
… the wise men sought the living Word, the living Lord.
The wise men went to Bethlehem to worship,
… the religious leaders, and the city of Jerusalem were disturbed,
Like Abraham, the wise men left their comfortable home, their comfort zone, … traveled a long, long distance, over days/weeks, to Jerusalem guided by His star … laden with precious gifts …. to worship Him.
The religious leaders were unmoved … disinterested.
“The Queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation at the judgment and condemn them,
because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon;
and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.”
The wise men came from the East. They were not Jews, … but Gentiles.
Like the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, somehow the wise men obtained portions of God’s word.
Its amazing how God’s word traveled to people whose hearts are open to Him.
The wise men did not have the address, just the town … follow the star.
the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was.
Its amazing how the star guided them to the exact house where Jesus was. 🙂
When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
Let’s look at the shepherds in Luke ..
The attitude of the shepherds after they heard God’s word from the angel,
“Let us go straight to Bethlehem then,
and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.”
So they came in a hurry and found their way
in the night
… seeking for a manger,
no address, just the town … seek for a manger
what a contrast between the attitude of these unschooled, ordinary lay shepherds,
compared with the learned reverend religious leaders.
So, … how far is Bethlehem from Jerusalem ?
….. Only 10 km,
right in their own ‘backyard’,
to the religious leaders … 10km was not worth the trip
to behold the Word made flesh,
only 10km … however, their hearts were as good as 10,000km away,
a question of one’s priorities (?),
the ordinary lay shepherds hurried to Bethlehem from the fields,
& the Gentile wise men journeyed a great, great distance, over many days,
… a hunger, a thirst drove them,
to pursue God’s priceless gift.
God was seeking for open hearts … who will welcome His son.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Luke 12:34 (NIV)
If we were there that night … which group would we be in?
Would we have hurried in the night ?
At the first Christmas, Jewish shepherds and Gentile wise men came together to bow in worship before the Christ. 🙂
On the night Jesus was born,
for the unschooled, ordinary shepherds,
an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them
a multitude of the heavenly host praising God
The shepherds experienced the Lord’s glory and revelation …
had privileged front-row seats to hear the multitude of angels sing praise to God in concert, … they heard and saw heaven,
… undeserved, unearned
… amazing grace.
Indeed, a very precious moment in history!
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12…. Even angels long to look into these things.
1 Peter 1:10-12
For the religious leaders,
each year only one of them had the privilege to enter the Holy of Holies with the blood of a lamb to behold the glory of God,
& some would serve their whole lives,
and not be selected for this honor,
but … here’s an opportunity … just 10km away …
During Christmas, its quite easy for us to get caught up with the … celebrations, feasting, gifts … spectacle, pageantry, familiar carols … and like Martha (Luke 10:38-42)
…. we forget the reason for the season
… the most important person — Jesus!
For the shepherds that night,
they beheld the glory of the Lord, Immanuel, Jesus
a multitude of the heavenly host praising God,
‘cos, the Lamb of God has come.
When they had seen Jesus, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds … The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.
The first evangelists were
… unschooled, ordinary lay shepherds,
who experienced Jesus
… & simply shared their testimony of meeting Him to everyone.
Shepherds who were faithfully, diligently at work
(not in prayer, not in the temple/church)
… staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.
God revealed Himself to the shepherds at the their workplace!!
At Jesus birth, the wise men came with rich gifts – gold, frankincense, and myrrh
the lowly, humble shepherds with little or no education, … came with little, … maybe a lamb, … or probably empty handed (as they hurriedly came straight from their work),
… all were invited,
warmly welcomed to worship Jesus,
all welcomed into His presence, Emmanuel.
The wise men received God’s word & saw the star,
the shepherds saw the glory of angels & heard God’s word through an angel,
the religious leaders daily read, sang & studied God’s full written Word,
so … what made the 10km difference?
Hebrews 4:2 (NASB)
2 For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.
Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.
Faith to follow and be guided by
… a star in nature (Moses saw a burning bush),
… an angel’s proclamation
… a word of God,
… seeking for a manger
… warned by a dream
In the Christmas story recorded in Matthew and Luke.
God spoke to a diverse group of people, ethnicity, status, etc,
God really wanted them to know the arrival of His Son, the savior of the world!
God spoke into the wisdom of the wise men faraway in the east about the star in the sky, and arrival of a King.
God knew where to find the shepherds in the fields, and spoke through angels.
God spoke to a king through unexpected visitors looking for a King.
God spoke to the chief priests and scribes through the scriptures of the prophets.
God spoke in the common everyday language of each group of people. He spoke clearly in a manner that they could understand.
The great, the learned, … the humble, the lowly,
they were all invited to come, behold, adore and worship Him,
the King has come, joy to the world!
Multi-expressions of His revelation,
… one consistent message,
the Messiah has come!
God celebrated & threw an awe-inspring spectacle
— the prominent bright star in the heavens (universe),
the multitude of the heavenly host angel choir.
God speaks … are we listening ?
God speaks … are we open to how he creatively speaks ?
Are our hearts open?
The enthusiastic worshipful response of the wise men from the east and the shepherds in the fields,
contrasted with the cold shoulder of king Herod, the chief priests and scribes in comfy Jerusalem.
One group took the invitation,
joyfully came to worship.
The others willingly, knowingly ignored,
and missed everything.
Finally, at the manger with Mary & Joseph,
were the wise men and the shepherds
… unknown lay people … Jews and Gentiles.
Faith bridges what we know in our minds
about the Lord & His Word,
with what we believe in our hearts
& act on His Word & His character.
On a side note, this account of Jesus first coming,
in some ways parallels the parable,
2 ““The kingdom of heaven
is like a king who prepared
a wedding banquet for his son..(Matthew 22:1-14),
where the invited gave various excuses for not attending,
… and, the king told his servants to
9 So go to the street corners and
invite to the banquet anyone you find.’
10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find,
the bad as well as the good,
and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
As we look forward to Jesus coming again,
Jesus onces said,
“… However, when the Son of Man comes,
will He find faith on the earth?”
Luke 18:8 (NASB)
are we looking forward to His coming again
with … faith … or fear ?
Jesus reminds us ….
Matthew 25:13 (NIV)
“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
Matthew 24:43-45 (NIV)
43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.
there were some shepherds
staying out in the fields
and keeping watch over their flock by night
Luke 2:8 (NASB)
“Feed my lambs” … “Shepherd my sheep” … “Feed my sheep”
John 21,15,17 (NIV), 21:16 (NASB)
Jesus, the Ruler, Who will shepherd My people Israel,
commends the faithful and wise servants who will give them their food at the proper time.
and visits the faithful shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night
Faith, faithful, watch.
And as we read His Word daily,
let’s not be like the chief priests and scribes who studied and knew the scriptures
but ignored the author,
let’s be like the wise men who diligently seek after the Lord,
the author of the scriptures,
with a heart of worship and thanksgiving.
For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.
The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God
…. all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds
Today, let’s be like the shepherds and wise men,
(or wise shepherds 🙂 )
who enter boldly into God’s presence
by the blood of Jesus,
through Christ … the wisdom of God, the good shepherd
(1 Corinthians 1:24, John 10:11)
pray to Him personally,
worship Him wholeheardtedly
listen to Him intimately,
obey Him joyfully,
… encounter Immanuel, God with us,
they fell to the ground and worshiped Him.
so that He can enable us to arise with faith,
to refresh others with His Truth.
everyone was amazed when they heard
what the shepherds said to them
Hebrews 10:19, 4:16
Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy and find grace
to help in time of need.
Go tell it to the mountains,
Wise men still seek Him today.
1 Peter 1:10-12 (NIV)
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow 12 … Even angels long to look into these things.
13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.
Thankfully, in Jersualem, there were also others eagerly waiting for the Messiah, like Simeon and Anna who were seeking the Lord, listening to the God’s Word and the Holy Spirit with their hearts.
Luke 2:25-28 (NLT)
25 At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon.
He was righteous and devout
and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel.
The Holy Spirit was upon him
26 and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.
27 That day the Spirit led him to the Temple.
So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required,
28 Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God
36 Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple ….
37 …. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer.
38 She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph,
and she began praising God.
She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.
Btw, Simeon means ‘He (the Lord) has heard’ (Genesis 29:33),
he eagerly waited for the Messiah to come.
And as it was revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah,
each day he woke up, he wondered in child-like anticipation
... could this be the day?
could this be the day?
God honored Simeon & Anna’s faith.
For we saw His star in the east ….
Similarly, like Simeon,
the wise men spent many nights watching & scanning the heavens for the star
… until one night they spotted the star!
When they saw the star,
they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
Let’s be like Simeon and the wise men as we look forward to our beloved Saviour return again,
eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come again
by 林弟兄, bro Lim
December 19, 2014
Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2016 – All Rights Reserved
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