First Responders

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.

(Matthew 2:11, NIV)

Matthew 2 shows the first responses to the arrival of Jesus on earth. The three responses in this chapter are instructive, because they’re the same ones we see today. The initial response was the antagonism of Herod who was threatened by the presence of the true King and would do anything to protect his throne. Christmas is still a threat to those who want to stay on the throne.

The next response is the apathy of the Jewish leaders. Matthew reveals that they knew all the answers but were filled with cold, shallow indifference. They wouldn’t travel five miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem to see if their Messiah had come. What a pitiful scene. They knew the Scripture but had no interest in the Savior. Christ and Christmas meant little or nothing to them.

The final response is the adoration of the wise men. They brought costly gifts and fell on their faces to worship Him. The Jewish leaders wouldn’t travel five miles to see Him, but these Gentiles traveled eight hundred miles to worship the King.

In Growing Deep in the Christian Life, Charles Swindoll tells the story of a large department store that carried a special doll at Christmas in the form of the baby Jesus. It was advertised as being unbreakable, washable, and cuddly. It was packaged in straw with a satin crib, plastic surroundings, and appropriate biblical texts added here and there to make the scene complete. The dolls didn’t sell. The manager of one of the stores in the department chain panicked. He carried out a last-ditch promotion to get rid of the dolls. He brandished a huge sign outside his store that read: JESUS CHRIST—MARKED DOWN 50% GET HIM WHILE YOU CAN!

Jesus gets discounted every Christmas. Some discount Him in anger, others in apathy. But the only proper response to God in human flesh is humble, extravagant devotion and adoration.