By Urailak Liljequist
Reading: Matthew 2:1-12
Focus Verses: Matthew 2:9-11
Global pandemic. Social distancing. Isolation. Loneliness. Deaths of loved ones. Losses of businesses and jobs. Online schools and churches. Events and programs cancelled. Number of people limited for gatherings. Faces hidden behind masks. Divisive opinions among families and friends. Undeniably, this year has been difficult and challenging to say the least. Some people may feel upset, frustrated, disappointed, depressed, annoyed, and joyless during this Christmas season because they have certain expectations of how Christmas should be celebrated but this year of craziness makes it impossible and dampens their Christmas spirit. We (myself included) can easily lose sight of how God wants us to celebrate Christ’s birth/Christmas.
God purposely guided and directed the Magi (aka the wise men) by a special star for a reason. They came to Jerusalem and inquired about the location of the One who had been born King of the Jews. When King Herod heard this, he was panic and viewed this Child as a threat to his power and position. He called the chief priests and teachers of the law and asked them where the Messiah (promised Deliverer, the Anointed One) was to be born. Interestingly, Herod himself (a gentile) acknowledged Christ as the Messiah. They replied, “In Bethlehem in Judea” and quoted the prophecy from Micah 5:2. Most religious leaders believed in Old Testament prophecies so they knew that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Herod called the Magi secretly and pretended to be interested in knowing where to find Jesus and wanting to go worship Him. His real motive was to locate and kill the newborn King. Later, a special divine revelation directed the Magi to not go back to Herod on their return to their country.
The star went ahead of the Magi and stopped where Christ was. The Magi rejoiced with exceedingly great joy (NKJV). Not just joy. Not just great joy, but exceedingly great joy! This rejoicing with exceedingly great joy is a result of finding/encountering Jesus (being in His presence), surrendering, worshiping, and giving…as demonstrated by the Magi. They were overjoyed when they found Jesus, bowed down, worshiped the Christ Child, and gave Him gifts. No matter how the world has changed, Christmas remains the same. God’s intention has never changed. God wants Jesus to be honored, worshiped, and made known not just by Jews, but by all nations of the world (the wise men from the east were gentiles). We, the redeemed of the Lord, are to worship and honor Christ and make Him known. We can offer Him our gifts of submission (to His kingship), adoration/praise (for His deity and all His divine attributes), and gratitude (for His sacrificial death on the cross for our sins). Don’t let current crisis or circumstances make us lose sight of what Christmas is all about. Let us celebrate Christ, our Lord and Savior…our Messiah and King, all year long, not just at Christmastime, come what may.
What attitude adjustments or what priorities do you need to make in order for you to rejoice with exceedingly great joy this Christmas?
Prayer: Abba Father, thank You for Your indescribable gift of Jesus who was born to save us! This alone is an enough reason for us to rejoice always. Please direct our hearts and minds to focus on celebrating Christ’s birth the way You want, not the way we wish for. May we rejoice with exceedingly great joy as we humbly worship Christ and boldly make Him known by offering up our lives…our all. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.
You can find more of Urailak’s writing at her blog https://bornagainandblessed.blogspot.com and her reviews at http://fivesavedbygrace.blogspot.com/.