The Inconvenience of Christmas
There is truly nothing like being home for Christmas. The old roads that you’ve seen over and over again seem to have a new glow in the late days of December. Memories come flooding back of Christmases past and the lights on neighboring houses seem to guide your way home. Hallmark has made loads of money just by capitalizing on the sentiments that come with being home for the holidays. Whatever it is, the days leading up to Christmas just seem to make time slow down.
Growing up in Minnesota means that getting home for Christmas is all the more important. I’ve never had to dream of a white Christmas because that’s all I’ve ever known! It truly wouldn’t be December 25th without it being zero-degrees and snow up to my kneecaps. However, it seems like every year there is a delay to my flight due to this same weather. This weather which makes Christmas better, also makes my life harder! Even though it’s a sign of home, it’s also a sure mark of interruption.
On each Sunday during this Christmas season we’ll be looking at the ways in which the coming of Jesus is just like the arrival of Minnesota winter. Although he improves our lives, he frequently does it through an interruption. If you just read through the Christmas narrative in Scripture, every single person has their lives disrupted by this baby! It’s really amazing at the amount of change this infant brings on each life around him. Throughout this month we’ll be hearing from Joseph, King Herod, the shepherds, and Mary, but in this post I want to examine what happens to the Wise Men.
Whether or not you’ve been raised in church, you’ve likely heard the story of the Wise Men a number of times. This familiar story is used so the kids can dress up for the Christmas pageant, but other than that you’re not sure what it means for you. However, I’d argue that their story contains one of the most theologically important verses in the entire Christmas story. We all know that these wise men came from afar because they’ve followed a shining star. They get to the scene and lay their gifts before Jesus, and then we don’t really know what happens to them. The ending verse of their story though does shed light into how they’ve been changed. When we read their story, we typically miss their interaction with King Herod. On their way to Jesus, they ask him if he has heard about this new King. Herod responds with fake interest and asks them to report back about what they have seen so he could go and worship Jesus (Matthew 2:8).
The wise men make it to Bethlehem, but the most fascinating part of the story comes when they are getting ready to leave town. Matthew 2:12 recounts what happens to them, “Having been warned in a dream to not go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.”
This would have been an incredibly dangerous move for the wise men. They aren’t just taking a longer route home, they are disobeying direct orders from their king. But the lesson here is that once you’ve experience Jesus, you don’t leave the same way you came in. He interrupts everything! He changes your routines, your travels, and even your very loyalty. By taking a course that avoided King Herod, they are boldly declaring that they don’t take orders from him anymore. They have met their true King. And this changes everything. Nevertheless, this assertion doesn’t make their life easier, it only makes it more troublesome. The truth is all too often giving Jesus your allegiance will nearly guarantee an inconvenience. Jesus comes this Christmas not to promote the status quo, but to flip the ways of the world on their head. This baby in a manger did not appear just to be “meek and mild” but to shake up the system. And when the wise men met their Creator laying a manger, their plans changed. They were willing to be inconvenienced because they had met the one who chose to be disrupted for their sake. Jesus didn’t just take the long road home, he left Heaven so that he could bring us home with him. My hope is that this Christmas you will experience Jesus in a real way. And when you do I believe that, just like the wise men, you’ll leave following a different path than when you came in.