One of my favorite accounts surrounding the birth of Christ is the Magi from the east. Many movies, articles, and figurines depicting the wise presenting their gifts in Bethlehem at the birth of Jesus are inconsistent with the Scripture. Matthew 2:9 says, “When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was.” First, I am sure Matthew is able to distinguish the difference between an infant and a child. If he would have used the word “infant” or “baby” in describing Jesus, then we could assume the wise men were present at the stable. But, Matthew calls Jesus a “young child” indicating the Savior was not an infant. Second, Matthew 2:11 says, “And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother and they fell down and worshiped him.” Unlike the stable narrative which often appears in movies and plays; the wise men go into a house, not a stable. Third, King Herod orders the killing of every male child two years and under, “Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men” (Matthew 2:16). It is my contention that the Magi started their journey when the star first appeared. Since the wise men traveled from Persia (Iran), the journey was a little over 1,000 miles and would have taken 18-24 months on a camel. The journey was dangerous so the Magi would not have traveled alone (see picture above). The wise men would have needed water, food, tents and other items for survival not to mention security. So, I believe the wise men didn’t arrive for nearly two years. This helps explain King Herod’s edict to kill all children two years and younger. In closing, the wise men stand as an exceptional model for the Christian faith. They blindly followed a star across many miles just to see this King, who was born to take on the sins of the world and bring redemption for those who believe in Him.
May God bless you this Christmas season!
Years ago at my first church in Bible College, I preached a sermon entitled: “Christmas without Christ.” It was an unusual Christmas sermon because most pastors preach on the Coming of the Messiah, the gift of salvation or even the place where Jesus was born. However, that Sunday I preached “what if” Christ had not come. I gave the congregation a litany of implications of Christmas without Christ: no beautiful Christmas carols, no Christmas tree, no presents under the tree, no Christmas shopping, no family gathered together to celebrate the joy of the season or days off work. Then, I drilled down a little deeper. There would be no forgiveness of sin, no redemption, no joy of eternal life, no peace with God, no hope of seeing loved ones again, and no presence of God in our lives. Then, I read the last words in the Old Testament, “else I come and strike the land with total destruction” (Malachi 4:6). Yeah, that is a sobering thought, isn’t it? I left the congregation stunned with those words and turned out every light in the sanctuary. We were in total darkness. You could have heard a pin drop. Then, I had one of the ushers turn the lights back on. Christmas without Christ isn’t pretty, is it? Thankfully, Christ did come and die on the cross for the sins of the world. We do have forgiveness, redemption, renewal with God and the hope of heaven in our hearts! Praise be to God in the highest for sending Jesus into our dark and dying world! So, while you’re shopping, singing and enjoying the Christmas season – remember, Christmas is about Christ from start to finish!
May the Lord who blessed us this Christmas season, bless your hearts with the peace of His presence!
For everyone who shops with Amazon, we now have an easy way for you to donate back to our church with eligible purchases! There is no added cost or price differences to use Amazon Smile over the normal Amazon site, just a different URL. Amazon will donate a percentage of each eligible item you purchase back to our Church when you shop through their site (Smile.amazon.com). Eligible items will show that they are Smile eligible when viewing on Amazon, look for something like this to indicate the item is eligible!
If you are purchasing from your phone, be sure to use your web browser and go to the Amazon Smile site as using the Amazon app will not qualify for a donation. You can use this link to take you to the Smile site to set us as your desired charity, https://smile.amazon.com/ch/37-1143272. If you already have a different charity, be sure to change it to “First Baptist Church of Tolono”. We hope you remember to use Amazon Smile for all of your Holiday shopping this year!
If you have any issues or questions, please let us know and we’ll do what we can to help!