CHRISTMAS

Long ago in the land of Asia, far from Jerusalem, there lived some very wise men. In those days only the Jewish people knew the one true God, so even though these men were very wise and learned, they did not know God. When Jewish traders passed though out the land of Asia, they sometimes sat around their campfires and visited with the local people. It is thought that they shared the words of their prophets concerning the coming of the Messiah during these visits.

One of the things the wise men of Asia studied was the heavens. So I can imagine that one night there was a brilliant star in the heavens, one they had never seen before. One of the wise men probably recalled the stories that were told concerning the birth of the King of Israel. They decided that this must be the star that would shine for the tiny new born king and because they were wise, they decided to seek out this new born King of Kings. As they approached Jerusalem the news flew from person to person. It did not take long to reach the ears of King Herod.

Power mad, Herod was so jealous of his throne and his power that he even ordered the death of two of his own sons, because he felt threatened by them. His reputation was such, that Caesar Augustus once said that if given a choice between being a pig or a son in Herod's household, he would choose to be a pig, as pigs were treated better than sons.

It is reasonable to assume that the news of a baby king of the Jews being born, would enrage and panic Herod. After consulting with his own astrologers, he spoke soft words to the wise men, and sent them on their way. When they did not return, Herod, desiring to kill the new king, ordered the slaughter of the infants. Every male child in Bethlehem and all its districts, under the age of two, was slain.

That which happened at the beginning of the life of Jesus, continued to happen through out his earthly life. Just the mention of His name, disturbed the Kings. The Kings of political, social and religious life were distrustful of Him, because they believed that He put in jeopardy the security of their thrones.

When Jesus began His ministry, the world was in a mess. (Sounds familiar The Romans were worshiping Caesar. The Greeks were worshiping carnal knowledge. The Jews, the church people of the time, were worshiping the externals of religion, the place, the form, and the method instead of God.

There were very few who knew the nature of God. So God wrapped Himself up in the person Jesus and said, this is who I am. Look to Him and find me. This Jesus, went around touching people. No one else was doing that. The Romans didn't touch people, they crushed nations with their mighty armies.

The Greeks didn't touch people, they couldn't be bothered, they spent their time thinking lofty thoughts. The Jews didn't touch people, they had an exclusive club, that few outsiders were invited to join. In a world full of pain, it seemed that no one cared, or was able to help.

Then came Jesus, who went around touching people and meeting their needs. He touched everyone who would let Him. The leper, the demon possessed, the sinner and the establishment. The root of the word for king means one who is able. By his actions He demonstrated that He was a King. That's what brought the wrath of the world upon Him. If He had been content to be only a sympathetic doctor, a physician making war on pain, the world would have given Him the Nobel prize of the time. But He behaved like a king.

If He had been content to be a friend of the friendless, consoling men in their sorrows. Handing out food, helping with housing problems. They would have donated money to the cause, and sent the news teams out to record and tell the world about this good man. They would have bestowed honors on Him. But He behaved like a king.

He was always acting in a regal manner. He had a manner of speaking that awed some men, and angered others. They didn't like to hear a peasant carpenter speak words that demanded obedience and sounded final. He behaved like a king.

He asked men to lay down their lives for Him. One day He said to a group of disciples, "You are my friends, if, you do the things which I command you." Only kings, speak like that, but He was a puzzlement. He didn't look like a King. No pomp and circumstance, no crown, no scepter, no purple robe, no chariot with plumed horses and no armed men marching in neat uniformed rows, going before and after to enforce His will. Yet, He didn't hesitate to claim that He was monarch in the vast Kingdom of the Spirit. One day He drew a word picture of judgment day, and in that picture, He placed Himself on the throne. In a great parade He allowed men to bow before Him, crying Hosanna, blessed be the King that comes in the name of the Lord. They called Him King, and He did not rebuke them. He told stories that implied the final destinies of men, were in His hands, and at the last a robber said, "Remember me when you come into your kingdom." He said, He would.

It was the issue of Kingship which finally brought the wrath of the crowd down on Jesus. In the crowded courtroom, they yelled, this man claims to be Christ, the King. Pilate hardly knew what to do with Him. He asked Him, "Are you a king?' And Jesus looked into his eyes and said, "You have stated it."

Then arose the shout that broke Pilate's resistance. They shouted, "If you release this man, you are not a friend of Caesar." Pilate didn't know about Jesus, but he did know about Caesar. Caesar would not stand for rivals of any kind. Setting Jesus before them, he said, "Behold your King." and they said, "Away with Him, crucify Him."

The chief priest of the Jews, who had previously held fast to separation of religion from the dominance of the Romans, now chimed in, "We have no King, but Caesar." Thus, the Jews and the Romans agreed that He should die, because they said, "He made Himself to be a King." He died because He behaved like a King.

Jesus is still King of Kings and Lord of Lords and the spirit of Herod still shouts, "We will not have this man to rule over us."

Christmas is just about here. At Christmas we think about Santa Claus and we think about Jesus. Christmas cards have pictures of Jesus, cantatas and carols are filled with the name of Jesus. We never seem to tire of hearing the story of the baby who was born in a manger. We have long had the Jesus of pictures, songs and storys. But looking at pictures, singing songs, telling stories and celebrating His birthday, is not enough. Jesus must be King.

Where is He who is born King? Have you allowed Him on the throne of your life, or is He buried beneath wrapping papers and bows? Where is He who is born King? Is He on the throne of your life, or is He buried beneath parties, songs, candles and cookies?

Sometimes, it appears, we give a lot more attention to Santa Claus, than we do to Jesus. Thousands of people will stand for hours in the cold to catch a glimpse of a man in a red suit in a Holiday parade. Few people see Christmas as a Holy day, a celebration of the birth of the King of Kings. Even the church gets caught up in the whirl of activities. We need to remember that it wasn't Santa that stood by us this last year during family crisis. It wasn't Santa that said to you, be not afraid, for lo I am with you always. It wasn't Santa that said, I will never leave you or forsake you. Where is He who is born King? Do you know where He is? Christmas should be a time of sharing and giving because it should honor the birth of the King of Kings.

Today, many receive Jesus as a gentle teacher. His teachings are lifted up by all who appreciate noble thoughts. The sermon on the mount is taught in many languages. One of His rules, has been labeled golden. Many are eager to honor Jesus as a teacher, a poet, a reformer, but they draw the line, when asked to crown Him King. People know that Kings require obedience to their word. The will of kings is a law unto its self. Men and women must show their loyalty and their love for their king by obedience. Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments." No one is counted as a disciple who is not willing to obey.

Where is He who is born King? Is He on the throne of your life? Is He really? Then what will you give, during this season of giving, as a gift to the one who has stood by you 365 days of the year? Wise men give gifts to the one who is born King. I have a suggestion, for a gift that is bound to please Him. Lets deal kindly with one another. 

Lets agree that for the coming year, as a gift for the King of Kings, that we will speak only those things which are encouraging and up lifting to each other. Kings require obedience. He said, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Would you want others saying unkind things about you? Criticism and suspicion are not fruits of the Spirit.

Years ago, we taught our children, "If you can't say something nice, then don't say anything." It's time to start teaching each other and our children that again. When we gossip, and speak evil of one another, we are allowing the spirit of Herod, who still seeks to murder Christ, to use us. We must stop biting and devouring each other. For when we do, we murder the body of Christ, the King. The Word of God says that, "Love is ever ready to believe the best of every person." Jesus said, "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, by the love you have one for another." Where is He who is born King? Is He on the throne of your life? Kings require obedience.

The past twenty years have been a time of Herod's influence in the media. Herod's words have been like sharp swords slashing at the body of Christ. And we who are part of the body have joined in, much to the delight of Herod. What can we give to Jesus? We can crown Him King. King of all of us, including our tongues. When we speak evil of the body of Christ, our brothers and sisters, then we are speaking evil of Jesus. When Jesus spoke to Paul on the Damascus road and said why are you persecuting me? It was the church that Paul had been persecuting. Underneath all of the wrapping paper and tinsel of the Christmas season, is an opportunity to crown Jesus as King of our tongues. Be tender hearted and loving toward one another. Forgiving each other, even as Christ has forgiven you.

Where is He who was born King? Let us remember, that He who was born King dwells in each member of the body of Christ, and treat each other accordingly. We are not needed to chastise another man's servant. The master of that servant will take care of that. We are called to friendship with one another. The Word says that a friend loves at all times, it does not say approves at all times. Where is He who was born King? If He is crowned King of our hearts we will treat all with love, not just at holiday time but all the time.

May the Lord bless and keep you, make His face to shine upon you and give you peace.