I like watching people’s facial expressions when something big happens. I see the overflowing joy and the “it’s about time” look from a girl who just got engaged to the man of her dreams. I see the wonder and amazement in the eyes of first time parents holding their baby for the first time. When a teenage boy gets his license, he often has a mischievous look thinking of his new found freedom. Maybe you have seen the expression of someone opening a gift they didn’t like: a look of confusion and trying to muster up some sort of thank you. Having had a father go overseas in the military, I especially love the facial expressions of loved ones who are surprised by their soldier’s unexpected return home. Reactions are very telling to what is in someone’s heart. Whether joy, love, mischievousness, wonder, or confusion, your reaction comes from your heart.
The characters involved in the Christmas story each have their own reactions to Christ’s birth. I want to consider three reactions to Christ’s birth. When people found out about Jesus being born, how did they feel? What did they do?
- Mary Adored.
You don’t have search far into the Christmas account to see Mary’s feelings concerning Jesus’ birth. The angel Gabriel came to Mary with some unexpected and admittedly confusing news. Mary, who was a virgin would conceive a son. Wait a second! That’s impossible. Mary couldn’t have been pregnant. But Gabriel reminds her that with God nothing is impossible. He notes that Mary’s own cousin Elisabeth who was barren and well past childbearing years was six months pregnant! Mary then surrenders to God purpose for her life to be the mother of the Saviour. Mary then goes to visit her cousin and during her visit prays to God. This prayer, called Magnificat, is Mary’s ten verse praise to God. She extols her God for the privilege it is to be His servant. Not only did she praise God for her opportunity, but she praised God for the way He works with mankind.
Mary was Jesus’ mother. There is a special bond between a mother and a child. Coupling the motherly bond with the supernatural aspect of the birth, Mary’s relationship with Jesus is deep. She adored Jesus. She loved Him. Sure, she loved Him because she was His mother. However, I have no doubt that Mary loved Jesus because of what He would do for her one day. Mary adored.
- Herod hated.
Though this account takes place after the birth of Christ, it still pertains to His birth. The Gospel of Matthew records for us the account of Herod the King. This Herod was not a nice guy. He was terrible. The Popular Commentary on the New Testament describes Herod this way: “A skillful ruler, fond of architectural embellishment, but extremely cruel and jealous, being charged with the murder of his wife and three sons.” Herod was described by commentator Warren Wiersbe this way: “A cruel and crafty man who permitted no one, not even his own family, to interfere with his rule or prevent the satisfying of his evil desires…a ruthless murderer.” Do you get the picture? Herod was a terrible man. Wiersbe, as well as the commentary quoted above record that this Herod was married ten times. Some were killed; most were divorced. The idea I’m getting at is that he was a wicked man. We find evidence of that in the second chapter of Matthew. After hearing news that someone called “The King of the Jews” was born, he demands to know more. He didn’t want people interfering with his throne. If someone was being called the King of the Jews, he wanted them gone. After hearing the report from the wise men (an unnumbered amount, not three), Herod tells them to find exactly where this King is so that Herod could go “worship.” We understand that Herod had no intention of worshipping Christ. Herod wanted Him dead. By the sovereignty of God, Mary and Joseph were warned in a dream that this would happen. They, with Jesus, fled to Egypt until the time appointed for them to return. Herod couldn’t stand the thought of someone else being the king of the Jews. He hated anyone that would try to take that from him, and he would do anything to prevent that from happening- even a small infant! Herod hated Christ. He abhorred Him.
- Some rejected.
When we look at Luke 2, we find, at least to me, the most familiar passage concerning Jesus’ nativity. To this day, my parents, as well as many others, will read much of Luke 2 on Christmas Day before the gifts are touched. In our chapter here we find something very sad. In verse seven we find this: “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”
Now, I could go into a long story about a mean innkeeper who turned away a pregnant lady. However, to be true to the text, that’s not in here. An innkeeper isn’t mentioned. (Besides that, Mary already had given birth at this occurrence.) A nonexistent innkeeper can’t be mean. Although, we can suppose some things based on cultural background and societal tendencies.
Joseph and Mary had gone to Bethlehem because of a tax. This was the city from where Joseph was originally. He most likely had family there. Granted, to them, the whole “Mary-being-pregnant-before-marriage” issue was a big deal to them. However, Joseph brought her with him showing that he wouldn’t divorce her or press charges in court for infidelity. This attitude should have translated to his family and they should have accepted Mary. Instead, Mary had to keep baby Jesus in unfavorable circumstances because Joseph’s family rejected her. Because she was giving birth to Jesus, Mary was rejected. Jesus was rejected and ignored.
When Jesus grew up and began His earthly ministry, He would be rejected time after time. The Book of John said, “He came unto his own and his own received him not.” His own people, the Jews, rejected Him. They refused to recognize who He was.
Each one of us will inevitably react to Christ’s birth, or Christmas, one of three ways. Like Mary, Herod, or Joseph’s family, every person has a reaction to Christmas. Some people adore. Some will hate. Some will ignore.
I’m guessing that most of the people that read this blog won’t be in the group relating to Herod. I assume that most people on the Ministry Wire don’t hate Christmas. I don’t feel like I need to expand much here. In my mind, most of us will be more prone to ignoring Christmas. Whether through the busyness of the season with family, or a hectic work schedule, you’ve forgotten about Christmas. I don’t mean forgetting about the holiday. I mean forgetting about why Christmas is important. In the full schedule of life, you’ve ignored the meaning we have Christmas. You’ve ignored Jesus coming to this earth. He came not just to be on the earth but for the purpose of seeking and saving that which was lost. He came for the cross. As the season of Christmas rapidly approaches, take time to be thankful for and reminiscent about Jesus. While the phrase may becoming a cliche, Jesus truly is the reason for season!
Instead of ignoring, react the way Mary did- adoration. Love Jesus because He came for you. He was born so that He could die for you. He was born so He could redeem you. Do you love Him for that? Do you adore or ignore? How do you react to Jesus’ birth?