Friday, December 23, 2011

Today's Advent Passage: Matthew 2:10

And when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. - Matthew 2:10

Christmas can be a hard season for people. Studies consistently show that depression and general gloomy feelings spike this time of year. The first Christmas was no easier ... Mary and Joseph had endured a long journey following a season of facing questions about a pregnancy people simply would not have been able to understand. The shepherds were among the poorest of their society and lived on the outskirts of town. The magi had traveled a long way and weren't exactly sure where their destination would lead - except they knew it would end at the feet of a king. But the destination of all the characters in the Nativity was One person: Jesus, the child sent from God.

Don't you love the magi? The text makes it very clear that they were extremely happy to see Jesus. The superlatives in the Greek indicate tremendous joy -- the word for great is megas which as you can imagine is where we get our word "mega". They were filled with "mega" joy ... and they showed it by rejoicing exceedingly.

This overwhelming joy was visible and would likely be quite out of character for an eastern "wise man". It reminds me of David's "undignified" dancing when the ark of the covenant was finally returned to Jerusalem:
David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets. As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart. ... When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, "How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!" David said to Michal, "It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD's people Israel--I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor." - (2 Samuel 6:14-16, 20-22 NIV)
Despite their long journey, the magi rejoiced. Like David, they didn't try to be dignified. Their joy overflowed in their worship.

As we head into Christmas weekend, you may feel like the past few weeks have been an overwhelming journey. Or, like the shepherds, you may feel like you live on the outskirts of the real happenings. Perhaps you are like Mary and Joseph, facing questions that no one but God can fully answer.

It doesn't matter. When you focus on Jesus, the King, there is joy -- joy based on nothing more than His presence. He has come. Whatever challenges you have faced or will face, Immanuel, God with us, has come. This is Christmas. This is unspeakable joy. This is a truth worthy of "undignified" expressions of worship. Let's join the magi at the feet of the Christ-child this Christmas.

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