The circumstances around the birth of Jesus bring to the
fore profound insights about the Christian journey. The story unfolds as common
place if we have gotten too familiar with the narrative sometimes to the extent
of missing new insights God wants to reveal to us.
In comparison with the focus of other new testament writers,
Matthew’s primary concern was to show and prove to the Jews that indeed Jesus
was their own according to the promises of the old testament.
Have a look at the following verses:
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times” (Micah 5:2).
‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch’ ” (Jeremiah 23:5).
Matthew’s burden was to persuade Jews that Jesus was the
promised Messiah every Jew was expecting notwithstanding the fact that He did
not set up an earthly kingdom. We see this clearly in the manner in which unlike
John who traces the genealogy of Jesus all the way back to Adam to prove the universality
of Christ and the gospel, Matthew traces the genealogy of Jesus up to Abraham
to exalt the Hebrew-Jewish context.
Matthew 2 1-2
“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, ‘Where is He that is born King of the Jews? We have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him.'”
Matthew’s interest in the specific inquiry of the wise men about “..the king of the Jews..” cannot be missed. What is striking is that the host nation of the Messiah incarnate, the Jews themselves, missed the boat of the first advent of the Christ as they had settled in a dead and formalized gospel that would cost them nothing. The Jews were on point on the theoretical interpretation of scripture and yet completely out of sync with the reality of scripture. The entitled, yet out of touch attitude of the Jews particularly the religious leaders is a sharp contrast of the learning and humble attitude of the sojourners from East who would spare nothing to see the new born king.
How much has Christianity Cost You?
Lastly, let’s look at the sacrifice of the Wise men. Their sojourn
is presented summarily within a verse or two and the extents of their
sacrifices could be easily taken for granted. But these men came from the east,
implying a country of significant remoteness to Jerusalem. They would have had
to endure taxing demands of a months-long journey. The journey ran into months and
they had to travel at night to follow the star. Most importantly, they did not
come empty handed. The gifts they offered for Jesus were of so much value that
they would suffice to sustain the family in their refugee status in Egypt.
Looking at the sacrifices of these wise men I cannot help
but pose these questions to myself and you… What has Christianity cost us? What
load have we given up since we became Christian? What load have we taken up? How
long has been our journey of self-denial?
How far are prepared to walk this journey? Are we satisfied with the outcomes of the cost benefit analysis for this enterprise? What have we sacrificed For Christ? Has Christianity cost us not just our free time but any of our precious time? What are we willing to put in with our abstract and concrete resources? Are our priorities still the same, are the streams of our conversations still the same? How much has Christianity cost us? Yes the yoke is easy but it is still a yoke. Yes the burden is light, but it is still a burden. How much has Christianity cost us?
Remember this, if it costs you nothing, it’s worth nothing.
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