Where Does Real Courage Come From?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Night Travelers

Reflections on Matthew 2:1–12
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

—Matthew 2:1–2

I sat at the far end of the first row for the annual Christmas play. The children were adorable in their costumes, most a little shy to be on stage especially with their parents constantly waving and filming their every move.
I had no idea this little play was about to impact my life.

The play went like this—a young reporter was interviewing the three magi shortly after they’d seen the Child. He wanted to know why they seemed so troubled.

“We saw His star,” one said, “and we were filled with joy. We knew this was a sign from God above. A diviner like us, a magi from centuries back, spoke by the Spirit of God. He told the world that this star would appear in Israel announcing the birth of a great King. And now that day has come!”

“We went back and read,” another said, “and reread the ancient records of the Jews. It’s all there. The coming of their Messiah, the son of David, whom the prophets of old said was more than a great King. They said He was Emmanuel, both the King who is God and the God who is to be born.”

“When we saw His star, we knew we had to go see Him,” the third one said. And then they began to talk, one right after the other, blending their voices as one.

“But would they let us? We didn’t know. We told our families. We told our government officials. We brought the finest, most expensive gifts possible. We could only hope the Jewish leaders would allow us audience with the King. So we too might see Him and worship Him.”

The reporter kept watching as the three men talked to him. He tried to catch what they were saying but it left him puzzled and strangely speechless.

“We imagined all Israel would be in Jerusalem like they do at their feasts. Everyone celebrating with song and dance, food and drink, cheering at the sight of the royal Child and rejoicing with the greatest joy that His reign and His kingdom were here—finally here!”

“Then we realized we were thinking too small,” one magi said.

“Maybe the whole world saw the star like we did and were doing just what we were doing. We actually believed that Jerusalem, no, all of Israel, wouldn’t be able to contain the amount of people coming from foreign lands to worship the Child.”

And with that, disappointment fell on their faces. The reporter picked up on it and asked why.
“Because that’s not the story. We got to Jerusalem and it was no different than any other day. We went up to the religious officials and asked, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?’ In no time, we were summoned to see King Herod. We told him about the star and that we’d come to worship the newborn King. And we could see that deeply troubled him.”

“It was like he never heard it before. He knew about the star. He knew about the coming of the Messiah. He knew the ancient prophecies. But no one had made the connection. Not him. Not the Jewish leaders. Suddenly all of Jerusalem knew that we’d come—and why we’d come—and were as troubled as Herod,” one magi said.

“But still, even then, they didn’t get it. They didn’t understand,” another added.

“King Herod sent us secretly to Bethlehem where the prophets said Messiah, son of David, the great Emmanuel King was to be born.”

“We thought for sure all of Jerusalem would make the trek with us from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, following the star, in hope to see their Messiah.”

“But no one came with us. So we thought, surely the people of Bethlehem had seen the star and knew about the birth of the Child. Surely this great town would be filled to the brim with people and joyous celebration. But it wasn’t. We couldn’t believe it. This is the city of David. This is where the prophets said He’d be born. We asked people in town but no one seemed to know anything about why the star had appeared, what it meant, or that it shouted the news—the promised Son of David had just been born to them! They didn’t know or even seem to care.”

“So we kept on following the star until it led us to the place where the royal family stayed. We knocked and someone greeted us. The moment the door of that old barn opened, we saw the Child and instantly fell to the ground and worshiped Him.”

“The Lord had prospered our way.”

“He gave us audience into His royal presence.”

“But it was just us and no one else. We were told about the shepherds on the night of His birth and what the angels had said. We were told stories of how the angel Gabriel had visited His mother Mary and how God visited Joseph in a dream. We knew all the Scriptures God had spoken were true.”

“But it was just us and no one else,” one said, sadly.

“The people—they all saw the star. They all knew the Scriptures. But no one could put the two together. They went on with their busy lives not knowing that the greatest moment of all time had come upon them as foretold in God’s holy Word and announced by the sending of the King’s star. And even when we told them, they showed no interest. They weren’t moved by it.”

“They weren’t ready. No one was!”

“There were no crowds around the Child. No songs or cheers or dances. No streets filled with food and drink, entertainment and joy. No central platforms built so that all the people could see Him, honor Him, and worship Him.”

“We thought the whole world was going to be here with us. We never dreamed that we’d be one of the only ones who’d get audience with the great King.”

“Why weren’t they ready? Why was there no one here to welcome Him?”
And with that, the children bowed.

My busy, little world suddenly stood still. I knew then that times had not changed. That I was no different than the people of that day.

The Scriptures in one hand. Life in the other. And the two rarely meeting. And I wondered what I’m missing today. Missing because I’m too busy. Too busy to follow the night travelers on their quest. To find Jesus. To worship Jesus. And to follow Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.

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John 15:1-11, the Vine and the branches. "Is He everything to you?