28 November 2009

What REALLY went on in the stable…

'On coming to the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him.' (Matthew 2.10, 11)

1. Were the Magi mad?

Let's be honest. We like babies and we like Christmas. And we like the idea of a God who is something to do with babies and Christmas. A God like that sounds rather nice. And that's why we need to remember the Magi.

The Magi were wise men from the East. We sing about them as 'The Three Kings'. But when they walked into the place where the new-born Jesus was, they did something very strange. When most people see babies, they want to pick them up. But instead the Magi 'bowed down and worshipped him.' Who does that to a baby? And their gifts were very odd. Gold, incense and myrrh – what were they thinking? Couldn't they have brought something sensible like baby clothes or a teddy bear?

It was as if they were treating the baby like royalty. The only person anyone would fall down in front of in those days was someone who was very important – a powerful king or ruler. But that was exactly what they were doing. The whole reason they came to Jerusalem from a far country was to see 'The King.' (Matthew 2.2). They fell before Him because they knew this baby was very great and powerful.

2. What's it like to meet God?

What would it be like to see God face-to-face? Curious people might want to ask Him questions about evolution. Adventurous people might think of the fun they could have with God – one recent book imagined going for a walk on a lake with Jesus. But the Magi remind us that we can't approach Jesus as if we were equals. When people in the Bible met God, they fell face-down as if dead. When people met the adult Jesus they fell at his feet. The Magi remind us that the only right way to approach Jesus is with our hearts bowed very low before Him.

3. Are we ready for the dangers of Christmas?

The Magi remind us that we need to be careful at Christmas, when we think about Jesus as a baby. We can make him sound cute and powerless. We need to set security guards on our hearts to keep out that kind of drivel. Jesus is the Prince of Peace who will reign in justice and righteousness forever (Isaiah 9.6, 7). King Jesus is not defenceless. He wants us to come to him at Christmas to love him and obey him and be protected by him – not to cuddle him.

Wise men worshipped him that first Christmas. Wise folk still do.

Simon Tomkins
Associate Minister