To many people, Christmas is a time of feasting, exchanging gifts, drinking and endless parties! In the midst of all the festivities this Christmas, let us stop and ask ourselves what it was like that first Christmas and how did the people then respond to this?
As I reread the Gospel accounts of the First Christmas, I observed how differently people then, saw the event. What amazed me were the responses of the people who came into contact with the Christ child! Let me share with you two groups of people and their responses.
The first group were ordinary shepherds who were just going about their normal business of taking care of sheep until one night, when they had a special visitation. They saw a supernatural being – an angel, who appeared before them and they were gripped by fear. This angel told them not to be afraid because he brought them “good news” and that this news was for all mankind. The good news was that a “Saviour, Christ the Lord”, was born that day! Then the heavens were filled with angelic hosts who sang praises to God and declared peace upon mankind. The shepherds were amazed.
They left their sheep and immediately went out to check this news. They came to the place where the Saviour was. He was “wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger”, just as the angel had said! They gave thanks to God and returned to share the wonderful news with many others.
The second group were “wise men from the East”, not three, as the song goes, but many! These wise men were learned men who studied a blend of astrology and astronomy and possibly from Persia? They observed a new star that was unusually bright. After much study and investigation, they concluded that this was a sign of the birth of someone special – the King of the Jews. They wanted to worship this King and so they travelled a long distance and the star guided them to their destination! The wise men rejoiced when theysaw the child. They bowed down and worshipped Him and brought precious treasures of gold, frankincense and myrrh, fit for a king!
Both the shepherds and the wise men “saw” something unusual and both of them “came” in search of this phenomena. These two groups of men came and saw – the Saviour, Christ the Lord. They were amazed and they bowed in worship and adoration.
Today the Saviour, Christ the Lord, is no longer that helpless baby. He is the resurrected Christ who came to earth that first Christmas. The Christ child grew up and fulfilled the mission that His Father-God had sent Him to accomplish – to go to the cross to die for the sins of the whole world. He was without sin and enjoying the presence in the Godhead, in the ‘heavenlies’.
We, mankind, should have died because of our sin against the Holy andrighteous God. But the perfect and righteous Christ took our punishment and our place on that cross. In doing this, He conquered and defeated sin, death and the devil! That is why the angel told the shepherds that He was the bearer of “good news” for them and for all mankind! The wise men travelled all the way from the East so that they can worship this King. They also brought “treasures” from the East, one of which was myrrh, used to embalm the dead. They did not know He was going to die but God must have prompted them in their selection of these gifts! Yes, Jesus Christ was born to die for you and me. Through His death and resurrection, He victoriously broke the curse of sin and death and reconciled alienated mankind to the holy God. Today this God offers us hope, joy, peace and eternal life if we allow Him to enter our lives, through repentance and faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord.
So in the midst of all the festivities this Christmas season, how will you respond to Jesus? Will you respond just as the shepherds and the wise men did? They saw the Christ child and they bowed down in holy reverence and worshipped Him. May we truly come and worship Jesus Christ the Lord and offer Him the best present we could ever give Him – ourselves. Give to Christ your hearts, minds and wills in repentance, humility and reverence. Surrender your lives to the only God who deserves all praise and worship today and everyday!
May you have a blessed and merry Christmas!
By Dr Violet James, Associate Pastoral Staff (YCKC Bulletin 25 December 2016)