Jesus is born and already things are happening! These wise men from the East are following a star with the idea that a new child is born to be King of the Jews. They go to King Herod and tell them they are here in search of this child king. Notice that “king of the Jews” is a title not used again until Jesus is arrested and before Pilate. Further, Herod is in this story and in the Gospel of Luke at Jesus’ arrest. Also, frankincense and myrrh are oils used in preparing a body for burial, funny gifts for a child.
When we read this story, we see some parallels that take us from the birth of Jesus to the death of Jesus. In addition to the connections just mentioned, we also know that the Jews rejected Christ and at his birth, it is the Wise Men (not Jews) that accept him, even as a baby. The Jews in Jerusalem are afraid of Herod. The Wise Men sneak off and shun Herod and return without reporting in. Herod is infuriated and went on a rampage killing children two years old and younger.
This story is about jealousy, deceit, fear, hatred, murder, power, and preservation at all cost. It is also a story about innocence, grace, love, humility, and obedience. It is a story about God entering our crazy world and having both incredible visitors and homage and incredible threats of destruction. This story reminds us that from the very beginning, Jesus light is not very popular with some people. — God’s plan will be met with resistance.
In the midst of the joy of Christmas we are reminded of the realities of our world. Jesus is not welcomed everywhere. Jesus provides a message of love and grace, but people within the body of Christ and outside the body of Christ are not willing to accept that. The religious conflict we have today, have been from the very beginning. However, the light of Christ reached the Wise Men, and for 2,000 years, it continues to reach people and shine in the hearts and minds of many.
Mary and Joseph star-gazing at their little newborn son. This day is a personal joy for them. Having a baby and creating new life is a very wonderful thing. We know that from our experience. So, I am sure, after the birth, they were able to have their private moment.
But quickly they were reminded that everything was not going to be normal. The shepherds came with an outlandish story of the angels telling them to come. Then there were teh wise men from a far -off place bearing gifts fit for a king. Then there was Simeon in the temple who would proclaim the greatness of God in this baby. Mary and Joseph hardly had a time for just those personal moments.
From the very beginning, people saw the promise of God in this little baby. It was a fulfillment of prophecy to some. It was new found hope for some others. It also was a threat to the status quo for others. Everyone from Mary and Joseph to the Shepherds to the government authorities had a vision of what this baby will bring.
It is two thousand years later. Was the power of God spent only for this one particularly day 2000 years ago? Or can we look at this baby and see a new vision of what he means for us today? How does this baby mean new life for you — now— today — from your pew — from your home — from your world? Do you see a promise? Do you see hope? Or is your life threatened by what this baby could possibly bring — if you let him. Today is Christmas. Yes, it is an event that happened more than 2000 years ago. But it is an event that keeps on happening. We change, and we need a new Christmas each year to relate to God in a new way. We need new assurances in the power of God. This is what this baby brought. It is what this baby brings. Merry Jesus Christ-mas.
Have you ever been rescued? Have you ever spoken the words: “Save me?” It is really hard for a guy to admit that his life depends on the capacity of someone else to save them. We see rescues out of traffic accidents or at a hurricane when someone is stranded on a roof. When it is you, when the words come out of your mouth, it is a whole different thing.
We can’t say to Jesus, “Lord, save me!” until we admit we need saving. We can’t yield to God unless we know that we can’t do it ourselves. In our independence and self-sufficiency we will try everything else before we get to the point, we say “save me.”
Jesus has already saved you and me. He has already pulled us out of the trap of short term life that we have here and promises new life in him. You can believe that or not. But I ask “What do you want to have happen?” Wouldn’t you rather bank on what you want or is good for you? Just like Peter, Jesus pulls us out of the water. Jesus saves us. Reach up and see what happens.
The Gospel Reading: : Matthew 14:22-23
[Jesus] made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side [of the Sea of Galilee], while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
You have heard the saying, “Walk the talk!” That means that your actions are consistent with what you have been saying. That is important criteria when we judge people. If someone says they care, then leaves us hanging to fend for ourselves, you would say that the person’s actions are not consistent with their words. You may conclude that the actions are true and the words are a lie. St. Paul has a word for walking the walk: Cruciform – that everything Jesus said and did was consistent with his purpose. Jesus said he would lay down his life for his friends and he did.