Missing Christmas

Missing Christmas December 23, 2013


It’s anintriguing and enchanting story, that aspect of the nativity where the wise menvisit the holy family in Bethlehem.Noble magi. Long journey. Mysterious star. Valuable gifts. From ourperspective, it’s an enchanting story.

But fromthe perspective of the Jerusalemlocals—King Herod and his citizens—it’s sadly ironic. Foreigners greet the Kingof the Jews, while His own people overlook Him. Pagans travel hundreds ofmiles, while Bible-toting scholars stay home. The magi present gifts and bow inworship, while the local king panics and ruthlessly tries to have the boykilled.

Accordingto the Bible, this baby is the Messiah. These Jews had waited hundreds of yearsfor Him to arrive. And when He finally came, they missed Him entirely! It’ssadly similar to how some people approach Christmas today: high expectations,long wait… But when it finally arrives, they actually miss it altogether. Oh,they might still celebrate and observe traditions and give gifts; but in termsof what Christmas is really all about, the events of their December 25 are allshow and no substance. How does this happen?

Some peoplemiss Christmas because their focus is too narrow. They direct all theirattention to the day itself, and then if the day doesn’t go exactly as they hadplanned, their Christmas is ruined. It’s intriguing to me that, in Matthew’sgospel, Christmas Day gets only a handful of words: “she gave birth to a son”(1:25). And “Jesus was born” (2:1). He is quite unconcerned with Christmas Dayas an event in itself, demonstrating what he thinks is important aboutChristmas. The day itself isn’t nearly as important as the meaning behind it.

Otherpeople miss Christmas because of a careless mind. Isn’t it odd that the visitfrom the Magi didn’t provoke an investigation? Why don’t any of the religiousor political leaders from Jerusalem travel sixmiles to Bethlehemto check things out? What about you? Don’t the claims of Christianity at leastwarrant thoughtful, open-minded investigation?

Finally,some people miss Christmas because of a fearful heart. Herod the King wasruthless, mostly because he feared anyone who posed a threat to his position.News of a new king’s birth would have shaken him badly, and his violentreaction is perfectly in keeping with his personality. I don’t expect you’re ahomicidal maniac like Herod. But I do wonder if you share his fear. Fear thatJesus might upset your life. Fear that He might demand more than you can give.Fear that His claims might not be true. Is this why you might miss Christmas?