“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’
And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?’
Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’
And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.'”
A Response To Jesus
Throughout scripture God makes it very clear that He doesn’t let people remain in a gray area. They must take Him, or leave Him, there’s no inbetween.
In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis describes it like this:
“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
God wants us to respond to Him,
And it’s our choice how we do.
In the Christmas Story, we see 4 different groups of people:
The Wise Men
And The Religious Leaders
Each have different responses, which is what we’ll reflect on right now.
The Shepherds (blindsided by Jesus)
The first group we get to see is the shepherds who the angels go to and declare that the Messiah is born.
“When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.” -Luke 2:15–16
This group was blindsidded by the news.
They weren’t looking for God
They weren’t waiting for Him
But when they were told: they responded.
Some of us may not have been looking for God when He came to us,
but when He does, we are given the opportunity to respond to Him.
The Wise Men (searching for Jesus)
The second group is really interesting. They weren’t even Hebrews!
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.'” -Matthew 2:1–2
These wise men were looking for God.
Given, they weren’t looking with full knowledge, but they still desired to know the God of Israel.
We know they are working off incomplete information for a couple reasons:
First, they’re from “the East”. More likely than not, these are remenants from the Babylonian exile who gained some knowledge, specificlly from Daniel, but incomplete.
Second, they understand the timeline when the Messiah would appear (as the book of Daniel explicitly gives the date the Messiah would arrive), but they’re unaware of other specific texts that are known to the religious leaders such as Micah 5:2 which states His birth to be in Beleham.
Lastly, they are relying on “the star” which was not common in Jewish intepretation of scripture to interpret prophecy through astromony (though it was in cultures east of them – especially if their primary text was the book of Daniel).
So, what can we take from this?
It brings great comfort knowing that, as God promises, that when we seek Him with our whole heart that we can find Him.
I’m not saying that they’re methods were “right.” In fact, they still needed someon who knew the whole story (the religous leaders) to point them to Jesus. But because they were searching with the right heart and intentions, God revealed Himself to them.
I’ve known people who got saved from the most rediculous, non-biblical situations and searching – but they found the Jesus of the Bible, and they accepted Him as their Lord and Savior.
And that’s all that matters.
It brings me great comfort knowning that even when we have faulty methods, or don’t understand something correctly, that God can work in and through us anyway.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t try hard to make sure we understand and work as best we can, but it’s comforting to know that God’s grace covers all of our mistakes, faulty thinking and problems.
The King (threatened by Jesus)
We’ve seen two great responses to Jesus, but sadly, that’s not how it always works out.
“And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.'” -Matthew 2:8
“Now when they [the wise men] had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.'” -Matthew 2:13
Some of us respond like the King.
He put on a good face
He said all the right things
He appeared to desire God,
But in reality, he felt threatened and wanted to kill Jesus.
The true King.
King Herod was notorious for being threatened by others and wanting to be worshiped as king.
And Jesus was a threat.
Although our response may not seem this dramatic, it can stem from the same root: we wantt to be the god of our own life. We want to be lord and king of our own life – and so we’re threatned by Jesus.
Sadly, as long as we hold onto these feelings, it’s impossible to surrender to Jesus as our true Lord and King, and to be reconciled with Him.
The Religious Leaders (indifferent to Jesus)
The last group we see are the Religios Leaders. We mentioned them briefly with the wise men.
“When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'”
This was a group who was indifferent to Jesus.
They knew the time He would arrive,
They knew the place He would be born,
But they didn’t care to go see Him for themselves.
Even after the wise men came, they didn’t even go with them!
The way the story above plays out,
It appears like they don’t even care.
And this is a very tradgic response.
They know of God,
The comming Messiah
They had everything they needed to actually know God, and not just know of Him.
And they don’t care.
They were indifferent to Jesus
Because they didn’t want anthing to come and rock the boat.
It’s much simplier to live knowing about God
than it is to know Him personally as your God.
But it’s not better.
Let Us Respond To Jesus
So let us take warning from the responses given by the king and the religious leaders.
And let us take encouragement from the shepherds and wise men.
Whether you’ve been seeking Jesus
Or you’ve been blindsided by Him
May you respond with joy to Him,
As your Savior, Lord, God and King.