There are so many people that missed Jesus on that first Christmas.
Herod missed Jesus. The power-hungry king of Judea fixated on his own agenda and was determined to have control over his own destiny. Do you know that he really believed the scriptures were inspired?
4 And gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he began to inquire of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 And they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it has been written by the prophet, 6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; For out of you shall come forth a Ruler, Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ” Matthew 2:4-6
After discovering where the Messiah was to be born, he sent off the magi with hopes of acquiring the infant’s location so that he could snuff Him out. Consider the bravado of such intentions. Herod thought He could out-maneuver God! Herod missed Jesus.
The religious leaders missed Jesus. The scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, chief priests and high priests all missed Jesus that first Christmas. Even if you don’t understand the specific functions of the list here, know that these are the ones who had all the answers. With a fastidious passion, these pastor-teacher types studied the scriptures laboriously in order to know the answers to every question imaginable. Many of these memorized the Old Testament scrolls completely! Yet, when it came to the hinge-point in all of human history, they were completely oblivious. Now that God was fulfilling the most incredible promise ever given with the greatest gift ever offered, they were totally ignorant.
The tragic mistake of these religious elites was that they assumed knowledge, understanding, and self-achievement was the essence of godliness. With pompous pride rather than brokenness, humility, and a hungry heart these great achievers missed Jesus completely.
The people on the streets of Bethlehem missed Jesus. Scripture records the fact that so many people visited Bethlehem at this time that there was “no room in the inn.” Due to the timely taxation by Caesar Augustus, each man was required to return to the town of his roots in order to be counted in a census and pay the required tax. Joseph and Mary made the trek home and found the little town inundated with people. This may have been the kind of place that was nice to be from! But even though Bethlehem was packed with people, we have no record of any of them coming to the manger!
I’m guessing that things were too exciting and harried at the time. Just imagine all of the reunions taking place—families getting reacquainted again, childhood friends vaguely recognizing each other…and then musing over the good old days, or the insecurity of some who felt like “fish out of water” in this bustling environment of giddy, boisterous and energized masses. (Sounds a little like our Christmases today…) Besides all of this, the visitors must have been busy finding food, water, and the basic necessities of life. Attentiveness to the divine intersecting with the here-and-now was absent in this adventure. And so…the people on the streets of Bethlehem missed Jesus.
Come to the manger. That’s right—don’t miss Jesus. How easy it is for us to be like those mentioned above. They didn’t intend to miss Him…they just did! Those that came to the manger, by the way, were very intentional about it and made sacrifices to do it. (Just consider the sensitivity of the wise men and the sacrifices they made to find the Christ-child.) Here’s a guarantee: If you do not intentionally choose to find Jesus this Christmas, you will miss Him. That’s the nature of God’s gift. And we must find Him over and over.
Herod missed Jesus because his heart was hard.
The religious people missed Jesus because they were self-sufficient.
The common folk missed Jesus because they were distracted.
How are you today? Is there a hardness of heart, an air of self-sufficiency, or the reality of distractions present in your life right now? Do you really want to meet Jesus this Christmas?
Prepare now to come to the manger. Jesus is there…and the invitation is open.
ACTION: Write down a brief prayer right now telling Jesus how much you want to meet Him in this Christmas season. Also, jot down a couple of things you will do to make sure that happens.