There he was. Baby Jesus. The Savior of the world. Some had waited all their lives for this moment. Others were only concerned with how his birth would affect their selfish ambition. Still others couldn't care less. It's still like that. Where do you fit into that spectrum?
In the "fullness of time," God sent his Son into this dark world to complete his plan of salvation. For thousands of years, God had been setting the stage. Prophecies, patterns, laws, revelations of Who He was--all had been given to prepare the world for the climax of his plan: He was coming down here himself.
But there were varied responses to the birth of Jesus. The same news came to many, but each responded differently.
The shepherds were thrilled. Nobody had to tell them twice. They left everything and raced toward their new life. And they didn't keep the news to themselves. After they had torn themselves away from the object of their worship, they told everybody in town.
They had the hearts of true believers. That's probably why God chose to reveal the news to them first. He knew their hearts. A true believer discovers the amazing truth that God wants him, loves him, and has given everything for his salvation. He embraces that truth with everything he has and is changed from that moment on. They may have gone back to their sheep, but they never went back to being just shepherds.
Is that you? Have you come to that moment when you chose Jesus for yourself? Did your heart thrill to the news and not stop until you had made him your own? Did you allow God to change you from that moment on? Have you left everything to kneel at the manger?
Then there were those in town. They heard the same news, but not much is said about their responses. Most probably lifted a brow at the smelly shepherds and kept right on with what they were doing? "Sure, buddy. No thanks. My life is fine as it is. Don't need a savior."
Has that been your response? Disinterest. There's a church on every corner, a brand of Christianity on every TV station. You've tuned it all out. Maybe there's a God somewhere. Maybe he has a Son. But what's that to do with your life? At Christmastime, you get a little uncomfortable, but it's only one day a year. The rest of the time, you can go back to your regular life and shove what you've labeled "religion" to the back of your mind.
Herod. When he heard about it, his response was self-centered. How will this affect me? What about me? I need to manipulate this situation to my benefit. Nobody's gonna be king of my life!
Is your interest in Jesus self-centered? What can he do for me? I like all that health-and-wealth stuff I'm hearing. Maybe I'll sign up for this deal, see how it goes.
You'll never find him that way. Herod searched and searched, but never found the Savior. God hides himself from those whose motivations aren't pure. He has no interest in being used by self-centered egotists who only want to manipulate him for their gain.
Has that been your experience? There was a time when you heard the good news and your heart quickened. You went through the motions, prayed the prayer, got baptized--whatever your church recommended. But something's wrong. You see REAL Christians and feel awkward. They seem to have something you don't.
What they have is Jesus. Just like Herod, you've never let him be King. You wanted what he could do for you but you're not interested in doing anything for him. He might want what you cherish. You're determined to remain king of your life and refuse to give it up. He can be born, but he won't rule YOU.
People still respond to Jesus in a variety of ways. And though thousands heard the news, it was only a handful of true believers who got to worship him. That is still true. Our church buildings are full of townspeople and Herods. But it is only the shepherds and the wise men who are really at the manger.
Where are you?