Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Shepherds, Intellectuals and the Humble of Heart

So I was thinking over my last two blogs on knowledge and wisdom. Being that it is the Christmas season I began to think about the birth of Jesus. If you read the different accounts in the gospels it it interesting to read about the different people that saw baby Jesus. It was those who were humble of heart that gained wisdom and understanding.

Who were the ones to get the first announcement? The lowly, humble shepherds. (Luke 2:8-20)These were not educated people of high social standing. They were usually the younger boys and slaves. So right from the get go God is revealing Himself to both Jew and gentile. Their humble standing granted them wisdom. The shepherds not only saw the heavens open; they saw God and worshipped the baby Jesus.

When Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the temple to be dedicated in is not the priest who recognises the Lord. (Luke 2:21-24) It is a man named Simeon who is moved by the Spirit to go to the temple at that exact time. When he got there his knowledge and humble heart rewarded him with wisdom. He took Jesus in his arms and proclaimed "For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the gentiles and for the glory to your people Israel." Luke 2:30-32. Because Simeon used his knowledge with a humble heart he saw God in the baby Jesus.

Also at the temple that day was a woman named Anna. (Luke 2:36-38) As a woman she would have not been allowed into the inter court to worship. But she was dedicated to the Lord and "worshipped day and night". Again due to her humble heart and fear of the Lord she saw God in the baby Jesus that day.

So far we really have no one of particular consequence that saw the bay Jesus. Really just some young, lowly shepherds and old man named Simeon and an old lady named Anna. Where were all the priests, kings and intellectuals?

The wise men or "magi" have been called all of the above. The Greek word also means magician or astrologer. For the sake of this blog I say they were most defiantly wise and they were men of ancient science. The wise men were the wealthy, intellectual elite of ancient times. These men were well versed in the prophecies of the old testament Numbers 24:17 and Micah 5:2. They were also educated in how to read the stars in the sky. With this knowledge they set out to meet this new "king of the Jews". Remember that knowledge is just information. It is with what attitude (humble or proud) that you use to facilitate that knowledge that makes all the difference. The fact that these men were willing to travel some distance to pay respect to this newborn King already speaks of their humility.

When the wise men get to Jerusalem they are met with prideful opposition. Matthew 2:3 says that King Herod and all of Jerusalem were alarmed at the mention of this newborn King. They were NOT facilitating their knowledge with humility. Pride had instead caused fear. Herod calls the chief priests and teachers of the law to give clue as to where this baby was. But even with the knowledge of the prophesies they were blinded by pride. Herod summons the wise men in secret to gain information. (Matthew 2:7-8) This "secret" meeting being a physical manifestation of the spirit of deception over Herod. He is asking about the star that they have seen. Herod could not see the star. His pride had blinded him.

I think the star has both physical and spiritual implications. Herod and the people of Jerusalem could see it because they didn't know the heavens. They didn't know what to look for. Spiritually they could see it because of their fear and pride. The wise men leave towards Bethlehem with the star ahead of them. They knew the heavens and their hearts were humble.

God honors this humility of the wise men. Just like the shepherds, Simeon and Anna the wise men saw God in the baby Jesus. They offer gifts and bow to worship the Lord. After they leave God speaks to them concerning Herod. (Matthew 2:12) The wise men have been granted the wisdom to discern between good and evil because of their humility. They do not travel back to Jerusalem and King Herod. They go back home.

So here we have the revelation of the birth of God's Son Jesus. It was not prideful pomp and circumstance. It was not a gathering of intellectuals and kings. God gave revelation of wisdom to those with a humble heart. Wisdom to those that yielded their heart to the Spirit of God and worshipped Him. Those who were proud did not see Jesus. They were blinded by fear and deception. It is humility that will make one wise beyond their companions. God will reveal Himself and give understanding to both poor and rich, male and female, uneducated and intellectual, Jew and Gentile. But first you must have the humility of the shepherds, the righteousness of Simeon, the servant heart of Anna, and the discerning wisdom if the Magi. Only then will you have understanding of the fullness of God, the grace of His Spirit, and the redemptive power of His son Jesus.


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