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3 Uncomfortable truths of Christmas

When we think of Christmas, we tend to think of the fluffy, happy stuff – the stable, the still starry night, the shepherds. But the truth is; that first Christmas was far from fluffy. In fact, there are some very uncomfortable facts of Christmas that not many people like to talk about. But the bible presents Christmas to us warts and all. Let’s look at three uncomfortable facts of Christmas and what we can learn from them…

1) Jesus was visited by pagan magicians

You probably know them as the “three wise men”. But the bible doesn’t actually say there were three, and it doesn’t even call them wise men. They were called “Magi, who came from the East”. “Magi” were the magicians and astrologers of the day, and the East was full of pagan nations. These were the last people you’d expect to visit Jesus. But they were led straight to him by a star. Stars generally don’t do that. God made it do that – because he wanted to make a point to these pagan stargazers. Namely, that this new king born in Israel isn’t an ordinary king. He’s a king that the star-moving Creator of the universe wants the whole world to know about. Even “Magi from the East”, and even you.

2) Not everyone wanted Christmas

Least of all, Herod – Israel’s puppet king at the time. He quite enjoyed being king and being able to call the shots, and Matthew tells us he was “disturbed” when he heard that Jesus had been born. That’s an understatement really – he tried to have Jesus killed, and committed mass murder in the attempt. He’s the kind of scumbag we’d throw in the same category as Hitler and Adi Amin. But in fact, we’re all a bit like Herod in our own way. We all want to call the shots and are ‘disturbed’ by the idea of a king claiming authority over us. Even if it is a king sent by God. We all instinctively want to eliminate him from our lives so we can keep living the way we want.

3) Jesus was a fugitive

Herod sent soldiers to Bethlehem to kill all the boys under two years of age. But Joseph was warned in a dream to escape before they arrived. So he took his refugee family over the border into to escape the Israeli security forces (sound familiar?). The interesting thing is that Herod sent his soldiers to Bethlehem because he read a prophecy in his bible that’s where Jesus was going to be born! But instead of going to pay homage to this prophesied king, he tried to kill him. However, he obviously didn’t read his whole bible, because another prophecy actually alluded to the fact that Jesus would flee to Egypt. So in trying to change God’s plans, Herod only ended up making them happen exactly as they had been prophesied. That happened throughout Jesus’ life. His opponents tried to stop him, but each of their attempts only made God’s plan happen exactly like he said it would. Even his eventual execution only fulfilled the very reason he came – to bear the sins of his people.

But God’s plan isn’t finished. Those same prophets (and Jesus himself) tell us about the day Jesus will return a second time to judge sins and take his people home. The first part of God’s plan happened exactly like he said it would – even though people like Herod tried to stop it. So the second part will happen like he said – and there’s nothing you or I can do to stop it. Jesus will come again, to judge sin and to rule the world.

The question is: what are you going to do about it? Are you going to be like Herod and ignore God’s plans and live with yourself as king? Or are you going to be like the Magi who realized, even though they were from another country, that Jesus was sent by God to be the true king of everyone?

Categories: Blog

About Nick

Nick is the Pastor of St Mark's church in Plumstead, a suburb of Cape Town.

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