for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.Luke 2:11(NASB)
Despite the testimony of John the Baptist, which announced the arrival of Israel's Messiah-King, and the many signs and wonders that Jesus performed during His earthly ministry, we read that the Lord Jesus was despised and rejected by the religious leaders of His day. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. I wonder why the religious leaders rejected His heavenly witness.
In spite of His own gracious words, His miraculous works, and His supernatural testimony, the Son of God was falsely accused of blasphemy, unjustly condemned to die, and cruelly crucified on a Roman cross. Little did they know that this atrocity took place to carry out the will of God for the redemption of mankind. It happened so that God's holy wrath against the sin of the world might be poured out on Christ in our stead - so that He could be the propitiation for our sin and God would be fully satisfied with His redemptive act. So, why did they hate Him so much?
They were well aware that thirty years earlier in the little town of Bethlehem, a Saviour had been born to a Jewish virgin in an animal shelter, so that the words of Micah the prophet might be fulfilled. Many heard of the angelic message which was given to the shepherds, "TODAY in the city of David is born a Saviour, Who is Christ the Lord," they were told. His name was to be Jesus, for He was to save His people from their sin. So why did they not recognise their long-awaited Messiah?
This glorious message was given to a rag-tag band of simple shepherds by a heavenly angel. They were tending their flock on the Judean hillside, when they heard the amazing announcement, and saw a host of angels lighting up the night sky, uniting their voices in a wonderful celestial song of praise, "glory to God in the highest and peace on earth, to men of goodwill," they sang. But why did the Jewish leaders appear ignorant of this supernatural event, which happened 30 years earlier?
Wise men had travelled from the east to worship Him and had asked King Herod, "where is He that is born King of the Jews?" Indeed, the religious leaders quickly supplied the correct answer from their holy Scriptures, "In Bethlehem of Judea," they proudly announced, "for this is what has been written by the prophet, Micah: 'and you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the princes of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.'" But why didn't these knowledgeable Scribes and Pharisees join the wise men in their holy search and rejoice with them that Micah's great prophecy had finally been fulfilled. Why did they not recognise that the day of their visitation had come?
Why did these learned men dismiss the supernatural testimony of the shepherds who had hurried to Bethlehem to see this wonderful thing that had come to pass, which the Lord has made known to them... and why did they dismiss this serious inquiry of the wise old sages from the east who had travelled a great distance to witness the fulfilment of an ancient prophecy, from Israel's own sacred Scripture?
Why did they miss the supernatural birth of John the Baptist and his call for the nation to repent, "for the kingdom of God was near." Isaiah had foretold that he was sent to prepare the way of the Lord. John's father was Zechariah, the priest, who had been struck dumb in the Temple of the Lord, while carrying out his priestly duties. He remained unable to speak during his wife's pregnancy, yet this old man prophesied of the soon arrival of the Messiah, at his son's own miraculous birth, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel," Zechariah proclaimed, "for God has visited us and has accomplished redemption for His people, Israel. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the royal house of David His servant." Zechariah rejoiced that Old Testament prophecy was being fulfilled and prophesied of things to come.
"God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies," Zechariah prophesied excitedly, "and from the hand of all who hate us. He has shown us mercy toward our fathers, and remembered His holy covenant. God has kept the oath which He swore to Abraham our father - that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness all our days.... The Messiah has come to give to His people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God - and to guide our feet into the way of peace!"
So WHY did these religious priests and Pharisees ignore the shepherd's testimony, the inquiry of the wise men, the fulfilment of Micah's prophecy, the proclamations of Zechariah, the songs of Simeon, the old priest, and Anna, the aged widow woman... both of whom rejoiced publicly and took the baby Jesus in their arms and blessed Him at His dedication service in the Temple of God?
We don't know the reason why these proud, pious, close-minded religious leaders, rejected their Messiah and crucified their Saviour... but we do know that each of us has been supplied with the same witness, from the Word of God, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and we all have the same choices to make - to believe in Him or to reject His offer of salvation.
We can accept the truth of God's Word and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved - OR we can reject the truth of God's Word and refuse to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be lost.
But once we are justified... we should strive to grow in grace and in a knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and to study the Scriptures daily, so that we do not make the same mistake as the religious leaders of Christ's day. May we not miss the truth that is available to ALL who have eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart that is ready to know the truth, so that we might be set free from the world, the flesh, and the devil - through faith in the efficacious blood of Jesus Christ our God and Saviour.
Heavenly Father, when I consider the many pointers that the religious leaders were given, it seems astonishing that they missed the truth of Christ's coming. Keep me from missing the truths that are contained within Your Word through my own pride or biased opinions. Keep me low at the Cross, broken before You, and teachable in heart and soul. Thank You for the clarity of the gospel of grace and for the many biblical proofs and prophecies that point us to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Thank You for sending Jesus to be the Jewish Messiah and Saviour of the world, and that by faith in His Person and work, I have been forgiven of my sin and received eternal life, not only in this age but in the ages to come. Thank You in Jesus' name. AMEN.
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