Monday, December 28, 2009

After Christmas

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us … And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. (Luke 2:15, 17)

Well, it is over. The floor under the tree is empty. The stockings hang limp on the mantle. The guests are all gone or at least packing. The tunes on the radio are all back to the same old stuff: no more Christmas carols, no more “Santa Baby.” Come Monday morning it’s back to work and the same old routine. Nothing much has changed until we do it all again next year – Lord willing.

Perhaps in the rush and the noise of the season the wonder of it has become dull and tarnished. Oh that it would continue to capture for us the awe that the shepherds experienced as witnesses to the birth of the God made flesh! The angel had announced, “behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (v. 10). This same announcement has been proclaimed now for over 2000 years: “Unto you is born … a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (v. 11). “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). The Creator who “hath made heaven and earth of naught;” “who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7) – the form of a helpless, needy baby boy. Is that not simply incredible! Furthermore, “being found in the fashion as man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of a cross” (Philippians 2:8) so that “with His blood mankind hath bought.”

This gospel, these “good tidings” witnessed by the lowly shepherds, was and still is worthy of proclamation. After the lights, after the tinsel and bobbles and trees, after the final carol is sung and after Christmas is done, the awe and excitement must continue on, and we must make known abroad the things “which the Lord has made known unto us.” EEC

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Worthy of Worship

And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him … (Matthew 2:11)

The magi that trekked many difficult and dangerous miles across the hot, arid desert in search of “he that is born King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2) were possibly part of the left over remnant that remained in Babylon after the Jews returned to their land. Perhaps they were pagans trained in the school of the Prophet Daniel. At any rate, they were familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures and the prophecies of the coming Messiah. So, they acted in faith on the Word of God, and came in search of the promised King.

When they found the child, they did an astonishing thing. They fell down and worshiped Him! What a scandalous thing, especially if they were Jewish; for in the first of the Ten Commandments God emphatically states, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). In the second commandment, God prohibits idol worship and says, “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:5). The Greek word translated “worship” in our text is proskun√©o, and it means to prostrate oneself in homage or to do reverence to or adore (someone or something). Such a display of reverence is reserved only for God. Neither men nor angels can rightfully accept the worship of men (Acts 10:25; 14:11-15; Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9). Yet here, neither Mary nor Joseph protested the magnanimous display of reverence lavished upon this small child. For here, though small, helpless and in need of care and protection, was God Incarnate. This was Emmanuel, God with us, deserving and worthy of worship. EEC