Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Jesus, Our True Love

....on the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me...12 drummers drumming*....Can you imagine the sound if your lover gave you the gift of 12 drummers? What a racket of loud love that would be! Everyone around you would know. Yet our True Love, God the Father, gave us the gift of Jesus on a silent night and the quiet assurance of love, peace, and joy permeated the entire earth! Hallelujah!

Today on the twelfth day of Christmas (January 6 - Epiphany) we acknowledge the presentation of the Christ Child to the Gentiles in the persons of the Magi (known as the wise men or three kings or astronomers/astrologers). The specifics of their identity is not as important as the reason for their journey. The wise men traveled towards Jerusalem in search of the newborn king. They desired to worship the “King of the Jews” by honoring him with gifts granted to new kings. And they had an audience with King Herod. They definitely must have been important to gain time with Herod, the Roman-appointed king of Judea. Read about it below from Matthew 2:1-6 (CEB - Common English Bible).

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the rule of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem. 2 They asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him.”
3 When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, and everyone in Jerusalem was troubled with him. 4 He gathered all the chief priests and the legal experts and asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They said, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what the prophet wrote:
6 You, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
        by no means are you least among the rulers of Judah,
            because from you will come one who governs,
            who will shepherd my people Israel.”

Scripture says Herod was troubled about the news he heard from the magi and everyone in Jerusalem was troubled with him. Why? What bothered Herod about a newborn? The magi claimed a king of the Jews had been born and Herod was jealous. Read the rest of the story below (verses 7-23) and see what lengths a wicked jealous king would take to get rid of his competition. 
7 Then Herod secretly called for the magi and found out from them the time when the star had first appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you’ve found him, report to me so that I too may go and honor him.” 9 When they heard the king, they went; and look, the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stood over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy. 11 They entered the house and saw the child with Mary his mother. Falling to their knees, they honored him. Then they opened their treasure chests and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 Because they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back to their own country by another route.
13 When the magi had departed, an angel from the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod will soon search for the child in order to kill him.” 14 Joseph got up and, during the night, took the child and his mother to Egypt. 15 He stayed there until Herod died. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: I have called my son out of Egypt.
16 When Herod knew the magi had fooled him, he grew very angry. He sent soldiers to kill all the male children in Bethlehem and in all the surrounding territory who were two years old and younger, according to the time that he had learned from the magi. 17 This fulfilled the word spoken through Jeremiah the prophet:
18  A voice was heard in Ramah,
    weeping and much grieving.
        Rachel weeping for her children,
            and she did not want to be comforted,
                because they were no more.
19 After King Herod died, an angel from the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt. 20 “Get up,” the angel said, “and take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel. Those who were trying to kill the child are dead.” 21 Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus ruled over Judea in place of his father Herod, Joseph was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he went to the area of Galilee. 23 He settled in a city called Nazareth so that what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled: He will be called a Nazarene.
Lies, deceit, murder, and mayhem followed Herod’s realization of the newborn king. He didn’t want someone to usurp his power or disrupt his kingship. Herod, the wise men, the chief priests, the legal experts, even Satan knew a king had been born and worship would follow. Some of them choose to worship the baby king while the others tried to prevent that worship with death. God stepped in to protect his one and only Son from the evil deeds of a jealous king. 
An angel of the Lord told Joseph the gloomy news of the impending death of his baby boy. What were Joseph’s first thoughts? What was Mary thinking? Can you imagine the fright they both experienced as they began to travel to Egypt? Envision with me that night of running away from evil.

Sitting on a small table in my living room is a figurine that represents the three in flight that terrifying night. Mary is sitting on a donkey cradling baby Jesus next to her chest. The donkey looks weak and tired as if he’s been running for a while. Joseph’s robes look to be flowing as he walks fast alongside the donkey, carrying a sturdy staff in one hand and a lantern in the other. The terrain looks rough and rocky making travel wearisome. Their faces express concern as they appear to be moving with speed. What if you were in their positions? Would you trust the God of heaven who placed in your lives a baby destined for greatness or would you be anxious about all the evil surrounding you? Would you try to hold onto the quiet peace that enveloped you the night of your baby’s birth or would your allow the terrifying possibility of death to overwhelm you? 

Our lives and circumstances can consist of happiness and peace or disappointment and heartache. Like Mary and Joseph we can experience the joy of birth and suddenly be surrounded by the news of death. Like the wise men we can fall down on our knees in amazing worship and suddenly be warned of impending danger. Do we focus on the gift of peace that comes from God or do we allow our senses to be filled with dread?
One Christmas night our True Love sent us a king to be worshiped. His love serenely exceeded the sounds of twelve drummers as the news spread about a Savior born in Bethlehem. The good news was made known to all people, both Jew and Gentile. That’s why we remember the journey of the magi and worship with them the “King of the Jews.” God in heaven loved all of His creation so much that He sent Jesus Christ, our Savior, to free us from the bonds of this sinful and cruel world. He offers us love, peace, and joy through the belief in a Savior King named Jesus. Will you accept His gift of blessed assurance by worshiping His holy name? 

*Throughout many centuries the Christmas carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” has had various meanings for people all over the world. It is stated that during a time of persecution, the Jesuits tried to keep their Roman Catholic faith alive by attributing religious symbolisn to the twelve days. The true love refers to God or Jesus and the twelve drummers refers to the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed (to learn more about this Christmas carol, go to  or visit different sites to discover other meanings for the gifts in this song).

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