This article was originally published on December 22, 2017
by Alan Arvello
Reactions. My favorite thing to observe about the Christmas story in the Bible is the reactions that the various characters had regarding the coming of Christ. From the initial dismay of Mary and Joseph to the thankfulness of Anna, there can be seen a wide range. Jerusalem was troubled. Herod was jealous. Bethlehem was unconcerned. The angels and shepherds rejoiced. I think most of these reactions are understandable, predictable even. It’s the wise men from the east that often give me the most reason to pause.
I’ll let the cat out of the bag – the purpose of this editorial is to influence the reader to consider his own reaction to the birth of Christ. With whom do you identify most in the nativity cast of characters in the famous second chapters of Matthew and Luke?
Consider the wise men. According to the classic joke, us Southerners know they are supposed to be wearing firemen helmets in manger scenes because they “came from aFAR” (in case you didn’t get it, the southern pronunciation for fire is “FAR”). Really, they did come a long way to see Jesus. Long enough that Joseph’s new little family was already living in a house by the time they arrived to give their gifts. This thought of their journey brings me to the one word that sums up their reaction – sacrifice.
There’s no evidence that the wise men’s endeavor was subsidized. Herod didn’t meet with them as if they were official representatives of another nation, but rather individuals looking for a newborn King. They invested their own study, time, finances, and effort into meeting Jesus. Indeed, they put their lives on the line to see Him – cross country journeys were dangerous, and Herod was a kind-of Al Capone of his day.
It humbles me to think that these fellows gave so much just to spend a relatively short time with a complete stranger. But this was not just any stranger, and they knew that. He was the King of the Jews, Christ, worthy of worship, treasures, and gifts.
My aspiration is to be like these wise men, to be willing to sacrifice for the very same Jesus for whom they sacrificed. Even Jesus followed their lead, as He grew up to give the same sacrifices for us: His time, effort, and His very life. If the Man Jesus could learn something from the wise men, maybe we can too. First of all, each one of us should individually accept the sacrifice of Christ for the remission of sins; but secondly, we should sacrifice ourselves to our Christ and King, just as the wise men of two millennia ago.