Well, the “Christmas season” is upon us. For some, that is a time of stress; for many, a time for joy; for others, just attempting to get through the season. But for those who know Jesus, it is right not to lose sight of the reason for the season: The Birth.
But even when we take moments to reflect on the Christmas story, perhaps to listen to and sing a few carols or read a devotional, we might miss just how big a deal that first Christmas was.
Yes, it is right for us to think that Christmas is the time to celebrate the birth of the one who came to save us. It’s fitting for us to reflect on Jesus as “Emmanuel,” the God who is “with us.” And, of course, those things are significant; we shouldn’t overlook such truths.
However, as I was reflecting on what Christmas is all about, I realized that there were a few who we meet in those familiar Christmas Gospel passages who seemed to think that the birth of Jesus was a life-changing big deal–in ways that I tend not to think.
In Matthew 2, we read about the magi (the “wise men”) and Herod, the king. The magi had made a journey “from the east” to Jerusalem looking for “He who has been born King of the Jews” (2:2). This wasn’t just a weekend trip to pop in and see some relatives. They had been on their journey for a long time. They had told Herod about when they first saw the star (2:7) and he concluded that they might have been on their journey for years (2:16). These men radically changed their lives because they recognized that a king had been born.
Then there is Herod. You might recall that when the magi failed to return and report to him when and where they had found the child they sought, he had all the male children in the vicinity of Bethlehem who were two years old and younger killed. Startling and sobering. Think what that would have done for his relationship with those he ruled and his need to keep the peace in order to preserve his rule under Rome. Why would he have done that? Because he recognized that a king had been born.
It’s true that with the birth of Jesus we celebrate the one who has come to save us. But let us not, in the midst of the celebration, overlook or underappreciate the truth that the One who was born has come to be King of All.