When Christ is Revealed
Most of the time I use this column to provide you with a preview of the message. But since I will not be delivering the message this Sunday, I can’t really give you a foretaste of what is to come. Instead, I want to take a few moments to better acquaint you with the context in which the drama takes place.
The drama is recorded for us in Matthew 2:1-18. The prominent characters are Herod, the King of Israel and the wise men from the pagan region of Babylon and/or Persia. But the most prominent character is the One whom Matthew refers to simply as “the child.”
As the drama unfolds, the wise men are following the star that is drawing them to this child who has been born King of the Jews. When they reach Jerusalem, they begin their inquiries as to where this king may be. When Herod, the king of the Jews as we was known in those days, hears the report that the King of the Jews had been born somewhere in Israel, he is immediately troubled at the stability of his rule. By the way, Herod was not a full-blooded Jew. He was an Idumean, meaning his descendants were from the line of Esau, not Jacob. Herod’s father was from the line of Esau, but his mother was an Arab. Now, you can imagine what the Jews of his day in Israel thought of him with regard to his allegiance to the true faith. And Herod himself was apparently not a practicing Jew, because he doesn’t even know the Bible passage which specifies the place of the Messiah’s birth. He has to go to the religious leaders to find that out. And that wasn’t one of the questions that would have been a deep dark secret amongst Israel. You would have known, had you studied your prophets in Hebrew school as a child, that the Messiah was to come from Bethlehem.
Herod turns to the chief priests and the scribes, who were the biblical scholars of their day. “Where is the Christ to be born?” Herod wants to know. And he is told clearly from the prophecy of Micah that He will be born in Bethlehem. But isn’t it interesting that neither Herod, nor the religious leaders send anyone to Bethlehem along with the Magi to see if this be true? Herod and the religious leaders of Israel both meet the news of the birth of the Messiah with indifference and fear. The same is true for the other people living in Jerusalem. Even they did not make their way to Bethlehem. None of them displayed any interest whatsoever in the birth of the Messiah. The Messiah was born in Israel, but He was concealed from Israel. It’s possible that very religious people can be blind. And so we are reminded that God must reveal Christ if we are to see Him and receive Him.
Now that I’ve filled you in on the characters in the drama Matthew tells us about, I want to tell you who it is who will be speaking to us this Sunday. It’s my son John. He is an experienced public speaker and he is deeply devoted to Christ. I don’t know exactly what John is going to say to us from the pulpit, but of one thing I can assure you—through his message and through his life, John deeply desires to reveal Christ.