Bible Reading: Matthew 1 - 2
“The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:9-13)
The book of Matthew is addressed to the Jews. Thus, Matthew begins with a genealogy of Jesus’ lineage all the way from David and Abraham. This was important to the Jewish people because God had promised to His people that a Saviour would be born of the sons of David. God had also promised Abraham that his offspring would be a blessing to all nations (Genesis 121-3). But, in their current context, God had been silent for 400 years. Between Malachi and John the Baptist, no prophet spoke the words of God for 400 years. God was silent as if He had abandoned His people.
The Jews were desperate and in constant lament. They mourned and pleaded for God to show them mercy again. Was He still faithful to His chosen people? Would Israel be a blessing to all nations? Would there be a saviour from the line of David?
Here, Matthew presents his gospel, his good news. This was very good news. There is a saviour, the Christ, and He is Jesus, the son of Mary! He is from the line of David, and He has come to bless all nations!
But, what actually happened when Jesus was born? Was there any celebration amongst the Jews? Did they come and worship their King?
It wasn’t Jews that came to worship Jesus. It was wise men from the east — gentiles. They saw the bright light in the sky and followed the star to go and worship the newborn King. But what did Herod the king do? He gathered all the scribes and chief priests of the people and held a secretive meeting. He asked them, “Where will the Christ be born?”
The scribes and chief priests scoured their scriptures, having complete mastery over each iota. Aha! Micah 5:2 says, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel”. The Saviour was to be born in Bethlehem!
But now, what did Herod and the priests do? Did they worship the King like they said they would go to the wise men? No. They had other plans to murder this infant King lest their own kingdoms were overthrown. The Saviour they had been waiting for was finally here after thousands of years of waiting. Yet, the Jews did not accept their own Saviour on Christmas day. They rejected Him because, in their darkness, they could not see the Star, the Light of the World, shining so brightly.
But, the wise men could see. They saw the star and rejoiced exceedingly with great joy (Matthew 2:10). When they saw the Child with Mary, they fell down and worshipped Him. They offered Him fine gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They honoured the King who had come into this world.
Through the lineage of the Jews, God used Christmas to open the gospel to the gentiles. The leaders of Israel, God rejected. Yet, the humble, poor, and lowly, Jesus served. Paul expounds this mystery in Romans 11. “So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous” (Romans 11:11). Yet, a time is coming when salvation will come to Israel, the first fruits of God’s Kingdom (see Romans 11:25-32).
What is Christmas? Who knows God’s ways? “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:33-36).
Lord, draw us closer to You this Christmas. Open our eyes so that we may see Your light ever so brighter this Christmas. Prepare our hearts, and give us Your Word. Your Word is Life, and we desperately need it. Have mercy on us. We want to walk with You. In Jesus’ name, amen.