The Responses to Christmas

Bible Book: Matthew  2 : 1-16
Subject: Christmas, Wise Men, Herod

The Christmas story from Matthew 2 demonstrates the reactions from three different individuals or groups to the birth of the Savior. Interestingly, the multitude of responses today falls into one of these same categories. Each of the main characters in this story performed a different action, and action that was precipitated by an obvious attitude.  This message looks at the three responses of the first Christmas, the type of attitudes that shaped that response and then compares them with our responses and attitudes today. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I. The Ruler’s Response: “Herod” (vs. 3, 13, 16)

A. Anger and Disdain

Herod was overly protective of his position and jealous of anyone that would be a possible threat. When he heard from the Eastern Magi about this “new king”, his obsession drove him to try to thwart the very beginning of such a king. He responded to the initial announcement of this king with uncontrolled anger and disdain, even to the destruction of his kingdom’s future, by killing all of the male children who were two years and younger. Such a horrific event is rare in history, but it demonstrates the world’s (and the enemy’s) view of the Redeemer of all mankind. Today, we also see this vitriol towards anything Christian. The “Ruler’s Response” is alive and well in our 21st century.

B. A Wrathful Attitude

Herod’s attitude was one of wrath, hatred and bitterness.  Once these attitudes take hold, they lead to all sorts of misery. This attitude is also seen today by people who hold grudges against family members, other church members, or past relationships. Although the Christmas season is the perfect opportunity to right those wrongs, we usually choose the “Ruler’s Response” by letting our anger remain and fester, leading us to far worse sins.

II. The Religious Response: “Chief Priests and Scribes” (v. 4)

A. Apathy and Disinterest

The Chief Priests and the Scribes KNEW that the Messiah was to come. The prophets predicted the fact of His arrival and the place of His arrival, not to mention the necessity of the Messiah. After being asked where Messiah would be born, they gave Herod chapter and verse, quoting from Micah. You would think this interest from Herod would stir them to do the same “boots on the ground” research that the wise men had done.  However, they were content with their text familiarity, their “religiosity” of knowledge without any righteous action. In so many ways, we fall into this category with our “Christian activities” that require little from us.  We give to family and friends, but we withhold from the Savior that which is most valuable and precious.

B. A Warped Attitude

Their attitude should have been one of anticipation, expectation, and longing, watching for the signs to manifest themselves regarding the One that would be the long, awaited King.  Instead, they gave their quick answers and went on their way as if they really didn’t’ believe the Scriptures were true! To KNOW what is truth and it not impact your daily life is indicative of a heart that is warped.  It appears right (all of the right answers), but the actions that come from it reveal a lack of true soundness.  A warped attitude is the most subtle because the bearer is deceived by his knowledge.  Our actions do speak louder than the right words!

III. The Right Response: “Wise Men” (vs. 2, 10-12)

A. Adoration and Devotion

The wise men were not even Jewish citizens, secondary recipients of this, THE greatest gift ever given. It’s sad, but the first people recorded to have worshiped the Christ were foreigners; strangers from the commonwealth of Israel.  Those living closest to Him were like a stone in a lake: water all around, but dry on the inside.  The intentions of the wise men were stated in verse 2, and their fulfillment was in verse 11.  They had but one goal: to worship the King!  It was manifested in their steadfast determination to find this “King of the Jews”, and their adoration and devotion was given glorious fruition.  So will ours when we search for Him with all of our hearts.

B. A Worshipful Attitude

The wise men are recorded to have done two things when they “worshiped”:

i. They bowed down

ii. They gave Him gifts

True worship always includes bowing and giving.  The Old Testament word for worship is “shaw kah” and means “to prostrate one’s self.”

Notice how many times the scripture records someone “worshiping” God and their position was one of lying prostrate with their faces tot the ground. This is genuine worship. Also, when David went to worship the Lord, one of his servants offered him a portion of his field and any of his livestock for free, but David responded, “I cannot give to the Lord that which cost me nothing.” A worshipful attitude is manifested by our broken humility and our willingness and generosity to give sacrificially.

Which attitude do you have this Christmas?