Daily Bible thoughts 517: 25th/26th December 2013: Matthew 2

The Lord of history stepped into a particular point in history. He was born in a messy place during an especially messy period in the history of mankind. Herod was a mean and nasty individual, and the birth of the new baby, who the King perceived as a rival (3-6), sparked off an explosion of violence (13-18). We are tipped off, then, that although the ‘Prince of peace’ has come, this will not mean universal peace and the end of all suffering yet! The Messiah, Jesus, brings peace to all who trust Him and submit to His rule. One day He will bring His shalom to the entire created order. But until that day His Kingdom will grow and spread amidst the terrible messes of this fallen world. We will see the most horrible and heart-wrenching tragedies (as in 13-18). But this chapter shouts that God is in control. He is the Director and Producer of the ‘Play’. He is also its Script-writer. No matter what happens on the ‘stage’ of the human drama in its successive acts, this story has a good ending. None of that venomous hatred of Christ by the devil, and expressed through willing human puppets, is going to have the final say. A simple man summed up the book of Revelation in these few words: ‘In the end, Jesus wins!’

When Jesus was born He came to a small and obscure town, and, in a new way, put it on the map. This was foretold by God hundreds of years earlier (6). When God turns the spotlight on a place He makes a good job of it. So, only this morning, on the BBC news, I saw television cameras trained on ‘Manger Square’ in the ‘little town of Bethlehem.’ God so often surprises us by what He does and where He does it. Preaching on ‘revival’ in Westminster Chapel in the 1950’s, Martyn Lloyd Jones highlighted the fact that God regularly does great works in unexpected places, and he commented that the next revival will probably break out in some remote hamlet. There is no place too small, unknown or out of the way for God to do a mighty work there.

It is interesting that it wasn’t Jews in this instance who came to see the one who has been born king of the Jews (2. See also 6b). Not only does the Lord do great works in surprising places, but He also draws unlikely people to Himself. (Unlikely in our eyes, that is.) If we perform our part in God’s ‘play’ (to be ‘stars’ : see Phil.2:14-16) then contemporary wise men (and women) will be drawn to Jesus. Some people will come a ‘long way’. They will travel a great distance along the scale from being far from God to drawing near and crossing the line of faith. It will happen as we shine like stars in the universe. They will see the light in our lives, but be drawn to worship Jesus (2, 9 -11; see also Mt.5:16). That’s how it should be. When they see us may they experience joy; when they go on to see Jesus, let them worship (10, 11) But let’s give them something to see. As stars we have to ‘appear’ (7) in the night sky. (Verse 2 can read: we saw his star when it rose). As I have prayerfully meditated on this wonderful chapter this Christmas time, I have been encouraged to believe that in this relatively obscure place where we live and serve, there are going to be genuine seekers who are going to come to Christ. We have already seen this happen, but there’s more to come. It may not necessarily be big numbers of people. (It can be, of course, but it might not be.) But those who are drawn will be genuine worshippers and highly significant in the story God is writing.

Remember, there’s a bigger picture. God is in control. He is directing movements. He will lead and protect. Ultimately, He’s the One who makes us bright and shiny, and He fills us with hope for the future.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, Son of God, Light of the world, shine in and through me.