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The room was dark. I rolled over on my mat, but the moaning, the breathing, the smell of humanity packed into this small room was too much for me. Here we were, descendants of a great king and now we had descended to this new low. Herded like cattle to be counted by some ruthless ruler.

“At least I didn’t have to opt for a stable,” I thought as I lay on my back and stared into the darkness. It seemed heartless, yet somehow humane for the innkeeper to send that young couple to his stable. Afterall, she was pregnant and looked like the baby could come at any moment. At least they had a roof over their heads.

I lay there in that packed room, remembering the fatigue, the tired eyes in the faces of that young couple. I was sure they had traveled far, like all of us, to be counted.

“To be counted,” I whispered to my self, letting the words escape my mouth with my breath. I just wanted to matter to someone; we all wanted to matter. I just wanted to be hopeful for something better.

I closed my eyes and tried to sleep amidst the groaning humanity that surrounded me. We were all packed into this small inn, brought together by fear of a king we did not believe in. At that moment I heard the faint cry of a baby. “It must be that young couple,” I thought. It bothered me that this child was born in a stable, yet I smiled at the thought of new life. In this, the least of all places, there was hope.

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” – Micah 5:2

#WednesdayWalk Through the Bible — an exploration of what unknown people might have seen or felt when they witnessed the events in the Bible. This post is from the perspective of someone in the inn near the stable where Jesus was born as told in Luke 2:1-7 (NASB).

© 2019 CGThelen

What was that moment like to see Jesus face to face? The magi traveled far for that moment and when they saw him, they fell to the ground and worshipped him. All their earthly identity, their worldly prestige melted away before Jesus. May we have the same response this Christmas, to fall to the ground before our Lord Jesus; to worship him and give him praise; to present our life, our treasures to him. May we see Jesus in our life; know his presence; know him in a deep way. May we praise God for guiding us to Jesus, for his patient love and grace in giving us salvation. All praise and honor to you dear Lord.

After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. – Matthew 2:11 (NASB)

© 2019 CGThelen

What does it mean to seek the Messiah? The birth of Christ as told in the gospels shows us people who sought to see the Messiah, sought to be with Jesus, sought to follow him. As we enter the Christmas season, it’s good to ask ourselves what are we doing to seek Jesus, to deepen our relationship with him?

Psalm 25:1-10 tells us how to seek intimacy with our savior. “In you, Lord my God, I put my trust,” the Psalm opens. How much trust do we put in Jesus or are we more inclined to go it alone in life? “Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths,” verse 4 offers. If we seek guidance from Jesus, he will teach us how to find the right path. He won’t necessarily give us a road map, but he will help us discern the correct route.

In seeking the Messiah we need to have an attitude of selflessness that places Jesus first in our life. “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way,” verse 9 tells us. In order for us to follow Jesus, we must trust him to show us the right path; humbly let him lead us. Take some time today to read Psalm 25:1-10 and meditate on how it can prepare your heart for seeking Jesus.

“May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.” – 1 Thessalonians 3:13

© 2019 CGThelen

The Journey of the Magi Concludes, Part 9

Matt. 2:12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

The magi expressed their faith with their journey. Their physical journey ended when they saw Christ, the new-born King. But their faith journey continues. The magi do not listen to King Herod. Instead they listen to God and return home a different way. We can only guess what their life was like after this encounter. It would seem that an encounter with Christ would change their lives forever.

This Christmas, what is your faith journey? Are you on a journey to Bethlehem or are you stuck in Jerusalem. Will you follow the magi to pursue the Messiah to seek Jesus Christ? What are you willing to sacrifice? What is your desire to put your faith into action? Do you fear God more than men? How generous are you? Are you willing to humble yourself before Christ?

King Herod and all of Jerusalem missed out on seeing the new-born King. Don’t let this Christmas pass without seeing Christ.

Originally published Dec. 23, 2010.

© 2010 CGThelen

The Journey of the Magi  Part 8

Matt. 2:11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and myrrh.

Think about this moment. The magi sacrifice much and rely on their faith to get them to Bethlehem. Even after so many distractions from men, they remain focused on the Messiah and experience true joy.

It’s the same with us. One day the focus of our faith will be revealed. At the end of our life, we’ll approach the house and see the Messiah, Jesus Christ, face-to-face. This Christmas, don’t stay in Jerusalem and miss the moment.

The magi were men of position and prestige, yet they fall before the new-born king. They humble themselves before him. They give generously to him, giving gifts of great value. They did not give him a television, smart phone, fruit cake or a Christmas sweater.

They did not tell Mary and Joseph, “Wow, do you know what we went through to get here? They didn’t say, “Hey, there’s a gift receipt in there if you don’t like it.” They didn’t even warn them about that crazy guy Herod. They are totally focused on the Messiah, Jesus Christ. They are totally reliant on their faith. They trust God has everything handled, even Herod.

The magi gave of themselves, leaving everything behind to pursue the Messiah. They gave it all to Christ. How much are you willing to give to Jesus?

Next Post: Don’t Stay in Jerusalem This Christmas

Post originally published Dec. 21, 2010.

© 2010 CGThelen

The Journey of the Magi  Part 7

Matt. 2:9-10 After they had heard from the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.

Again, take note that the star goes ahead of the magi and stops over where the new-born king lays in a manger. The magi do not see the star as they leave Jerusalem, they see it after they “went on their way.” They are overjoyed to see the star again.

Stop and ponder this moment. The magi were smart men. It’s likely they wondered if they could trust Herod, yet they took what he said, perhaps as another sign from God, and headed for Bethlehem. The star was not visible at that point, yet they head toward Bethlehem. That is why they are overjoyed to see the star again. The star confirmed they were going in the right direction. God demonstrates his authority by using Herod to give the magi direction.

It’s a sad commentary on Israel that the star was not visible in Jerusalem. The star that pointed to the Messiah was not visible in the very place where God once dwelt in the Temple. They knew the scripture and the prophesy, but missed the moment. It took men from a far off land to spread the news to all Jerusalem that the Messiah has been born.

Yet all Jerusalem ignores this message from God. The magi leave Jerusalem alone. No one joined them on the journey. Sometimes we can feel like the people in Jerusalem. We’re surrounded by a materialistic Christmas; we’re familiar with the scripture about the birth of our Savior; yet we choose to remain in Jerusalem and miss the true Christmas.

The difference between Jerusalem and Bethlehem is whether we live out our faith. Are we willing to sacrifice as the magi did to pursue the Messiah? Are we willing to act on our faith and pursue our faith without fear of man? Just look at the attitude of the magi. After traveling hundreds of miles for months, they are overjoyed to see the star again. They are filled with anticipation as they prepare to see the Messiah they have traveled so far to see.

Next Post: Meeting Jesus Face-to-face

Originally published Dec. 19, 2010.

© 2010 CGThelen

A Journey of Faith With the Magi  Part 6

Matt. 2:7-8 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

Herod has a secret meeting with the Magi. It’s interesting that he meets with them in private. He does not want people to think he’s concerned about the magi and what they are saying around town. Herod does not want to give the magi any credibility or even hint that there might be some truth in their question about a new born king. He is more concerned about how it might affect his prestige than about the reason the magi made their journey.

Instead, Herod wants to get to the bottom of all this talk about a King of the Jews. From a selfish perspective, he likely asked himself, “Is this another plot to overthrow me? Are these guys spreading rumors to stir a rebellion by telling the Jewish people their Messiah is born?”

Notice Herod asks the magi when the star appeared. It seems no one in Jerusalem is aware of the star. He goes to the source of the rumors around town and interviews the magi. He pretends to be interested in what they are saying, implying he too wants to worship Christ while plotting to protect himself. He’s more concerned about himself than the fact that the savior of the world has been born.

The magi bring the most important news in the world to Herod, yet he misses it because he focuses on himself. It begs the question, “What are we missing in our lives because we are focused on ourselves instead of Christ? Who in our lives is missing Christ because we are more focused on our own needs than the need of others to hear about Christ?”

Often the biggest barrier to putting Christ first is that we want to look out for ourselves first. If we are to be willing to sacrifice; willing to act on our faith; willing to not worry what others think about us; then we must put Christ first in our lives.

Next Post: Listening to God Instead of the World

Originally published Dec. 17, 2010.

© 2010 CGThelen

A Journey of Faith with the Magi Part 5

Matt. 2:4-6 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’”

Notice Herod does not call the magi right away. First he conducts an investigation. The magi are asking about the King of the Jews so he calls in the Jewish experts. It’s ironic that the chief priests and teachers of the law know the prophesy from the Book of Micah 5:2. They know the scripture and where the Messiah was to be born, yet they did not know the Messiah was already born.

An active faith requires us to not only know scripture but to act on it as well. Where are you at in your faith? Are you more like the Chief priests and teachers of the law who knew scripture and the prophesy, but missed its fulfillment. Scripture to them was just words on a page and the prophesy was just another fact they taught. Or are you like Herod where everything is about him, someone who looked at the news about the Messiah as competition for his throne.

The magi were educated  men who understood the prophesy about the birth of the Messiah. They were men who were sincere in their belief that the Messiah was born — men who were sincere in their pursuit of Christ and willing to give it all to him. Are you willing to follow the magi and follow your faith to Christ?

 Next post: When Self Makes Us Miss the Biggest News on Earth

This post originally published Dec. 15, 2010.

© 2010 CGThelen

A Journey of Faith With The Magi Part 4

Matthew 2:3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed and all Jerusalem with him.

News about the fulfillment of the prophesy about a Messiah was not well received by King Herod or the people in Jerusalem. It’s interesting when you look at the chronology of the events in the first three verses of Matthew 2, it’s not how it’s often portrayed:

  • Verse 1, the magi arrive in Jerusalem
  • Verse 2, they start asking around about the “one born King of the Jews”
  • Verse 3, eventually Herod hears about it

The magi do not seek an audience with Herod. They start asking about the location of the new-born king. The news about the birth of Jesus spreads through Jerusalem. Eventually, Herod hears about it from someone on the street. It demonstrates that King Herod was paranoid enough to have spies keeping tabs on what was going on in Jerusalem.

Another interesting thing in verse three is that it says they were all disturbed. Think about it. It says, “Herod and all of Jerusalem.” In a time with no cell phones, television and the Internet, the news still traveled fast. So why would they be disturbed by this news? Isn’t this what the Israelites longed for since their exile, a Messiah to save them? Or maybe it was because they said he was already born and they did even know it had happened.

The people in Jerusalem were caught unprepared for the news of the birth of the Messiah, yet they don’t respond with excitement. Contrast this to the sacrifice the magi made to travel to Jerusalem and their desire to put their faith into action. They are totally focused on Christ. Their boldness in asking about the Messiah spreads the news that Christ was born. Remember, they only asked one question and look at the response they received from all in Jerusalem.

What is your response to Christ? Are you like the magi who were bold in professing the Messiah’s birth and not worried about what others might think? Are you true to your faith even in asking a simple question that could have a major impact?

Next Post: Follow the Faith of the Magi Instead of Facts

This post originally published Dec. 13, 2010.

© 2010 CGThelen

A Journey of Faith With The Magi Part 3

Matthew 2:2 … and asked, “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? We have seen his star in the east and have come to worship him.”

Picture the magi coming into Jerusalem, the crossroads of the world. They enter this bustling town full of people going about their daily business. The magi must have thought that the Jewish people would know about the birth of the Messiah. So they inquire of the people in Jerusalem, “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews?”

Their determination is evident. They focus on finding the Messiah, and acting on their faith. Remember, they are strangers in a strange land, yet they don’t show fear of asking about the Messiah. The magi are not afraid to act on their faith. How is it that these strangers from a far off land show the people in the Israelite’s home town how to live their faith?

What a contrast to the people in Jerusalem who don’t seem to have a clue about what is going on. It appears that the star the magi saw was not even visible in Jerusalem. If you look closely at verse two they ask, “We have seen his star in the east and have come to worship him.” They didn’t point to the sky and say, “that’s the star we saw.” Apparently the star that was guiding them is not visible.

It’s interesting that they don’t ask if they have heard of the prophesy, they ask, “where is the King of the Jews.” They seem to know he has already been born and they have come to worship him. They are not scared about what people will think. They profess that he has been born and that they want to worship him.

How bold are you about your faith? Are you as bold about your commitment to Christ as the magi? Do you act on the scripture and God’s guidance? Do you fear God more than man?

Next Post: A Determined Faith

This post originally published Dec. 11, 2010.

© 2010 CGThelen

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