WHO WAS MISSING IN BETHLEHEM?
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “ ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’ ” Matthew 2:2-6
Herod knew whom to ask about this new baby King, the one he feared would be a threat to his throne. He went straight to the Jewish priests and scribes who knew the scriptures. When asked, they immediately quoted this passage from Micah about the Messiah being born in Bethlehem. These religious leaders didn’t even need to consult with each other nor ask for a window of time to go search the scriptures for the answer. It was on their tongue.
So where were they at the birth of Jesus? We hear no accounts of any religious leaders coming to bow down at the manger to worship. Jerusalem was only seven miles away whereas the Magi, if they came from Persia, traveled a thousand miles. This baby would grow up to reveal that the gate is wide for those who reject the Messiah and narrow for the few who actually seek Him out. Never was this more exemplified than in the scarcity of worshipers at His birth.
The message is clear. Knowing a lot of truth and actually being engaged with the heart are two completely different experiences. When both are present, when my quest for knowledge is love-driven, it is a beautiful thing. But what a tragedy when knowledge and passion are mutually exclusive. I can easily become as callous as those who lived around the corner from Mary and Joseph but weren’t spiritually alive enough to see if Jesus was really the One they had been longing for throughout their entire Jewish history.
Jesus is the end of my quest. Whatever it takes to journey to Him is worth any effort and any sacrifice.
I am challenged, every day, by what it means to walk the narrow way. I will stay on my quest to search for You with my whole heart. Amen
Originally published Monday, 24 December 2018.