Interestingly, it was the shepherds, the humble, common folk, who first saw the baby Jesus. Later the Magi, wise men or kings, came from far away to bow before Him who was “born king of the Jews (Matthew 2:2).” Their search for the Messiah greatly disturbed King Herod who would have liked to kill the baby who represented a threat to his throne. The Magi did find the baby, Jesus, by following “the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was (Matthew 2:9).” They worshipped Him, gave him gifts of “gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route (Matthew 2:11-12).” So Jesus was properly welcomed into this world by the humble and the elite.
Herod, of course, was very upset that the Magi avoided reporting to him about where the baby Jesus was. An angel came to Joseph in a dream and warned him to take Jesus to Egypt where Herod couldn’t harm him. And Herod, evil one that he was, ordered all boys age two and under killed in the area of Bethlehem (Matthew 2:19-23). And so, Joseph and Mary and Jesus were in Egypt when an angel again appeared in a dream after Herold’s death and sent them in the direction of Galilee and Nazareth where they settled.
Jesus’s birth was celebrated as the coming of the Messiah by the shepherds , but hated by Herod. And that really was the tenor of His life in the land where He lived, as He grew into adulthood and the purpose for which He came. He was celebrated by the common folk and His disciples who followed His teachings and healings and loved Him, but hated by the authorities who saw Him as a threat to their way of life and the practice of their religion. The Pharisees, in particular, were all about looking good, while Jesus was calling people to be good from the inside out. It was the powers that be that were most threatened by Him, and isn’t it the same today?
And we, ourselves, can be conflicted about following Jesus. The part of us that wants power, material things that define us, success, etc., or those traumatized, will hold back from following Jesus. But the part of us, the deeper self, the heart and soul of who we are, wants to follow in His footsteps and achieve the purpose for which we were born. It is in holding to the truth about ourselves and our lives that we come to be true followers of Jesus Christ. And it is the parts of us that would defy Him that we need to offer up to God to heal and cleanse us of all the oh-so-human parts of us, so that we really will follow Him.
Let us commit to following Jesus in a deeper, truer way as the New Year dawns next Sunday. Let us give up our attachment to our culture’s virtues of materialism and individualism and embrace Jesus teachings about loving our God and our neighbor with all that we are. For, how else are we to bring the Kingdom of God here on Earth, if we don’t live in it ourselves?
Questions to ponder over the week: Am I ready to follow Jesus when He shows up in my life, to come when He calls? To follow Him wherever He leads me? If not, what stands in my way or what am I waiting to happen before I can?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who, like the shepherds and the Magi will do anything to be in His presence. May we always follow Jesus.
Check out my two websites: patsaidadams.com and deepeningyourfaith.com.
- I am giving away a 10-week journaling guide to Jesus’s Two Great Commandments. If you are interested, email me at email@example.com and I will email it to you, free of charge.
- My latest books, “Called to Help the Poor and Needy” and “A Study Guide to the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount” are now in bookstores and on line. The first is about the more than 2,000 verses in the Bible which detail God’s instructions for caring for those in need. The second is a journaling/pondering guide to Jesus’s most complete sermon.