By Simeon Young
Many regard Jesus with hatred and suspicion. Many others insult Him with indifference. A few worship Him with undisguised love.
Mary had no sooner wrapped the infant Jesus in swaddling clothes than humans began grouping and taking positions around Him. There was KingHerod who camouflaged his hatred, suspicion and insecurity with the
appearance of piety and religion. There were the chief priests and scribes who, with studied indifference, dispensed with Jesus by clumsily misquoting Micah’s prophecy. There were the astrologers from the East who, with more than idle curiosity, sought Him out to worship Him.
These three groups are typical of the reactions to Jesus today.
THE REACTION OF HEROD
Herod experienced a mixture of emotions when he heard that Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea.
The birth of Jesus disturbed him. Matthew wrote, “When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled” (Matthew 2:3). Herod’s political astuteness had brought more peace to Palestine than at any other time during Roman occupation. His rebuilding the Jewish Temple had ingratiated him to the Jewish sympathies. Now, the birth of the “King of the Jews” threatened the peace and tranquility of the land. Small wonder Herod was disturbed and troubled.
Jesus still is a disturbing factor in the plans and schemes and dreams of many. Jesus said, “I came not to bring peace, but a sword.” Simeon said, “This Child is set for the fall…of many…”
The birth of Jesus frightened him. Herod was insecure and suspicious, and constantly felt threatened. He murdered his eighteen-year old brother-in-law, his wife’s eighty year old grandfather, his beautiful and greatly loved wife, his mother-in-law, his two sons and hundreds of civic leaders.
It is not surprising that the prospect of Israel’s King usurping his throne frightened Herod. Jesus is a frightening spectre to millions today for the same reason.
The birth of Jesus enraged him. In a blind rage, Herod lashed out to eliminate Jesus, to X Him out of his life.
The X in Xmas symbolizes modern man’s attempt to cross Jesus out, to eliminate Him.
THE REACTION OF THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS
The chief priests and scribes were the religious aristocracy of their day.
Jesus’ birth was a purely theological matter to them. The birth of Jesus gave them a chance to demonstrate their theological prowess, to polish their religious badges by quoting the prophet Micah. They were more interested in the theology of Messiah than in the reality of Messiah.
Their descendants are with us today and speak eloquently of the historical Christ or of the theological Christ. Yet they know little or nothing of the living Christ.
Jesus’ birth was unimportant to them. The chief priests and scribes would gladly cross-reference Jesus for Herod. They would locate Him for the superstitious astrologers from the East. But Jesus mattered so little to their uncurious minds that they didn’t bother to walk a scant six miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem to see Him for themselves. Their attitude is typical of millions who are indifferent to Jesus
THE REACTION OF THE WISE MEN
The wise men were Gentile astrologers from some Eastern country (Iran, Arabia, India, or China).
They diligently sought Him. It is estimated that these Gentile astrologers traveled for two years to find Jesus, the Jewish Messiah.
Those who seek Jesus today are promised, “seek and ye shall find” (Luke 11:9-10).
They reverently worshipped Him. Matthew records that they fell down and worshipped Jesus.
Truly wise men still worship Jesus.
They gave Him gifts. A fanciful Medieval myth suggests that they gave Him gold because He was a king, frankincense because He was God and myrrh for His burial.
Paul wrote, “I beseech thee…by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies…unto God…” (Romans 12:1).
What is your reaction to Jesus?