Advent: Some Worship and Some Reject

Day 25

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Personal Study

“And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

‘Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child… And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” (Luke 2:10–20)

“Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.” (Matthew 2:7–12)

“Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.” (Matthew 2:16)

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

‘Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.'” (Luke 2:25–32)

“And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:36–38)

Read: Matthew 2:1-23; Luke 2:8-40

Reflection

Today is Christmas. What better way to celebrate Christ’s Advent than to join the worship of those who were there to witness the miracle of the Messiah? Each person in the Christmas story reacted to the birth of Christ in different ways. Some worshipped, and some planned murder. The contrast provided by the gospel writers is staggering. The divide in peoples’ responses to Christ would only grow as He began His earthly ministry.

Angels

The angels were the first to let forth the resounding announcement that the Messiah had arrived. The host of Heaven proclaimed the wonderful news to shepherds who were watching their fields, saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14). They realized that this wasn’t just a miraculous birth. Jesus was the Savior spoken of by the prophets of old and promised by Yahweh. This was “good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10)! The angels didn’t need salvation. They didn’t harbor sin that needed atonement. Rather, they have worshipped the Lord and rejoiced that He had come down to rescue His people. This rescue is worth proclaiming everywhere, to everyone. As the angels said, the Savior “unto you is born…” (Luke 2:11, emphasis added).

Shepherds

“When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.'” (Luke 2:15)

The shepherds responded with faith toward the angels’ announcement. Luke 2:16 tells us they “went with haste” to find Mary and Joseph. Upon arriving, they blurted out all the angel had told them about Jesus’ identity to Mary and Joseph. These men were not keeping this glorious news to themselves, but because this message was for “all the people.” God was blessing all nations through the seed of Abraham. He crushed the power of Satan by the seed of man. The Son of God came as the Son of Man. Mary “treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). These were words of praise and promise for her baby boy that would never grow old! “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them” (Luke 2:20).

Wise men

We aren’t told how the wise men heard of Jesus’ birth, except that they were looking for a baby who was born “King of the Jews.” The Jews didn’t reside in one country at this point. They had been dispersed by centuries of war and occupation by pagan nations. They wanted to worship Him, but we can assume they weren’t looking for an earthly king. They had read enough of the Old Testament to know who they were looking for, and they knew He was worthy of the highest worship. “And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11). Their immediate response to seeing Jesus was to fall on their faces in worship!

Herod

“Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.” (Matthew 2:16)

Herod’s story is intertwined with the wise men, as they visited him first to find out if he could help them find their way to Christ’s birthplace. Tragically, Herod had different motivations driving his search. Herod heard the biblical prophecies as they were read to him (Matthew 2:3-6) and his first thought was self-preservation. Rather than celebrating the eternal reign of the King of Kings, he started looking for ways to keep grasp of his small kingdom. Anyone who desires to experience the salvation of Christ must lay down their selfishness and pride at His feet. Jesus later taught, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Herod wasn’t interested in this type of surrender. Instead, he set a plan in motion and killed every male child in Bethlehem. But God, in His perfect sovereignty, had already warned Mary and Joseph. They were already fleeing to Egypt. The shepherds and wise men responded in worship, but Herod responded with murder.

Simeon

Luke 2:22-38 records the marvelous account of Jesus being presented in the temple. Mary and Joseph brought Him to Jerusalem, to be dedicated to the Lord according to the Law of Moses. The irony is beyond obvious. Jesus is the firstborn of all creation, meaning that He was The Beginning. He was never made but always existed. Jesus was presented to the Lord as Joseph’s firstborn son, but He is the LORD of Lords.

Simeon was a “righteous and devout” man in Jerusalem, and the Holy Spirit guided him to the temple on this very day. Upon seeing the Christ child, Simeon exploded into worship and praise to God (Luke 2:27-32). The Lord had promised that he would see the baby Messiah before his death, and the Lord fulfilled His promise! Simeon declares Jesus as the Lord’s very “salvation” and “light for revelation to the Gentiles” (Luke 2:30-32).

Application

  1. Christ is born! What is your response to Him? Have you laid down your weapons and removed your walls of pride, to surrender to the King? Or, like Herod, do you find your self working frantically to maintain status quo, with some semblance of control over your own destiny?
  2. If you recognize Christ as the one true God, God the Son who came to earth to rescue us from slavery to sin, then rejoice! Rejoice internally through prayer. Rejoice externally through retelling the story of Christ’s birth to friends and family. True joy compels us to speak the news of Christ to everyone around us!
  3. Write down 2 names today.
    1. Write down the name of someone you know who already knows Jesus as their Savior, but needs encouragement. Maybe they need a deeper understanding of biblical theology, or maybe they just need to be reminded of basic Gospel truths. Pray for them and plan a time for coffee or lunch this week.
    2. Write down the name of someone you know who is lost and without Christ. Without a relationship with Jesus, they are walking with no hope in this world. Their days and weeks are filled with darkness, but their eyes might not realize it. Pray for them. Plan a time to connect with them that enables a Gospel-focused conversation. This might happen at church, or it might happen while grabbing a burger and fries. Pray fervently for the Holy Spirit to prepare their heart, and be bold but gracious. Love them with the Truth of the Christ who came to rescue them!

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I praise you for your Advent. Thank you for visiting the world as a baby, to rescue people for yourself. I can never fully comprehend the humility you showed in loving me, a rebellious sinner. Give me a deeper understanding of your glory. Help me to rest and rejoice in your coming. Your mission was to save us by sacrificing yourself on the Cross. Give me a joy that carries me to always tell others this great news!


Family Discipleship Time

Read Together

Luke 2:1-40 (or the Jesus Storybook Bible chapters below)

Discussion

  • All types of people and angels rejoiced in the birth of Jesus and worshipped Him. What sort of things did they say? (Jesus is Christ the Lord, Glory to God, Jesus is God’s salvation made visible, Jesus is the light of revelation to Gentiles, Jesus would cause many in Israel to rise and others to fall, Jesus is a sign from God that people will oppose, Jesus will reveal the hearts of people)
  • How did Herod react to the news of Jesus’ being born? Why? (Herod lied about wanting to worship Jesus and wanted to kill Him. Herod’s heart was blinded by sin and pride. He wanted to protect his earthly throne instead of worship Jesus—the King of Kings. Just like Adam and Eve, he wanted to be the ruler of his own life.)
  • Was Jesus really God? Was Jesus really a man? (Yes and Yes. Everything in the Bible teaches us that He was fully human and fully God, the perfect Son of God who became one of us yet never sinned. He lived the perfect life that we couldn’t and died the death that we should have. He carried our sin on His shoulders to the Cross so that we can be forgiven and be given new life with Him forever! We must repent and turn from our sin, to trust Him in faith.)

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