This has been a challenging, but rewarding, series of blog posts for me. Normally, I write in my notebook as I read the scriptures, and I miss days more often than I remember to do it. Hopefully (if you stick around long enough to read what I write) you don't find anything offensive or way off the mark. This is just a regular person searching for meaning and trying to personalize the scriptures.
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
I wonder if the wise men were surprised that Herod apparently knew nothing of this King of the Jews? I wonder if even they expected that the Jews would have at least known as much about the coming of Christ as they did, having known of the signs and watched for them, presumably by reading of the prophecies of prophets before their time. Are we surprised when people around us aren't aware of the restored gospel? And how to we rectify that? We share our knowledge. I find it interesting that there are missionary lessons even in the story of the birth of the Savior. I never thought that Christmas had much missionary allegory in it.
When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
Why would all Jerusalem be troubled? Wouldn't the Jews be excited? Even if they had misunderstood and thought the Messiah would free them from an oppressive government, wouldn't they be excited? Perhaps there were many who flourished under Roman rule and were unwilling to think of a life under different circumstances. Do we face repentance the same way? Am I unwilling to give up my sins for Christ? Or am I troubled like the people of Jerusalem when faced with the coming of the Lord?
And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
They had the truth right there with them! And Herod believed the prophecies, but the result of his belief was not conversion. His belief led to massacre. It is not enough to believe, we must have put our belief into action and live lives that exemplify our belief.
Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
When I read those words, I want to act like a kid again and say "Big fat liar!"
When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
If I were one of the wise (wo)men, I might have worried that we might have misread the signs and prophecies. Doubt creeps in very easily. But with the star still there, still pointing the way, my worries would have turned to relief and exceeding joy. When I get off track, the doctrines of the gospel, the promises of God are still there pointing the way and my doubt turns to relief and exceeding joy.
¶ And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
Obedient to the last, these wise men. They too had a vision from God. God is ever merciful to His faithful followers; He led the wise men to safety and gave them a way out to avoid making good on what might have been a promise to Herod to return and report on this child. And the wise men, after looking for the Messiah in a king's palace, apparently didn't mind finding him in humble circumstances in the end. No one said, "Surely this can't be the place. Surely that little child can't be the King of the Jews." They were not fooled by pomp and ceremony; truth is often simple and unadorned, but we do have to search for it.
You might think that I'm done with the nativity story, but I do have one more scripture story to consider. And then on Christmas, I plan to look at some scriptures relating to the ministry and mission of Christ.
The kids are in school still. One last day for them today and then I have my children around me for the upcoming snowstorm which has been predicted for this area. We shall see if the storm lives up to expectation. If it does, I plan on drinking a lot of hot cocoa while watching snowflakes fall. I love to watch a good snowstorm.