This post is part of a series of Christmas Devotionals by Dr. John Neihof, president of Wesley Biblical Seminary. You can find all of the devotionals by clicking here.
Scripture passage: Matthew 2:1-18
From the moment of Christ’s birth, people varied wildly in their response to Him. Herod hated the baby Jesus with an insane hostility, pursuing Him with one thing on his mind–slaughter! The chief priests and scribes were completely indifferent, and the wise men demonstrated devoted adoration and worship.
Herod’s sick suspicion knew no bounds. Someone called him a “murderous old man,” and surely he was. When the Roman Emperor Augustus learned of Herod’s assassination of three of his own sons, Augustus said that it was safer to be Herod’s pig than to be Herod’s son. Yes, he built the temple of Jerusalem. Surely, he had moments of generosity, but those moments never seemed entirely selfless. And then he placed the baby Jesus, the King of the Jews, in His sinful sights.
The chief priest and scribes did not even seem to care about the Messiah. They were completely enamored with Messianic prophecy as an academic study, absent of any wonder or worship. These Jewish spiritual leaders should have been the first ones interested in verifying Messiah’s arrival. Their disinterest is astonishing. As often is true with academics, the chief priests and scribes’ interest never transcended the technical and the theoretical. Jesus was of no interest to them. Like the priest and Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan, they “passed by on the other side.”
I don’t know all of the details concerning the wise men from the East who attended Jesus in His infancy. Apparently, they were experts in philosophy, medicine, and the science of their day. Apparently, they had some measure of wealth, power, and prestige, but many questions remain. What sense of expectation motivated the wise men to even look for a sign in the heavens? What was the ancient star which they saw? How did the wise men know to connect the celestial show to the birth of a king? Was there some Messianic hope that transcended national boundaries and cultures? How many wise men were there? How old was Jesus when they arrived?
What about me? Am I worshiping Jesus in a way that is worthy? Is my worship despising, indifferent, or devoted?
Prayer: “Lord Jesus, may my worship of You never be conniving, scheming, positioning myself for some advantage. Help me to worship You with a pure heart of devotion, not from some contemptuous scheme based in intrigue, rather from a genuine and transparent heart of perfect love. I choose to offer You obedient devotion.”