I read a status quote on Leonard Sweet’s facebook, and all of a sudden found myself typing away about an issue that I didn’t know could make me crabby – and that is, why didn’t the learned men of Israel, the high priests, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, follow-up on what was happening in Bethlehem after they had received the news of the Messiah’s birth? Were they so nose-first in the texts that they ignored the possibility that a great miracle of God was only a few miles away? And, do I do the same blooming thing?
Here is the quote that started me cogitating:
“There were only a few shepherds at the first Bethlehem. The ox and ass understood more of the first Christmas than the high priests of Jerusalem. And it is the same today.”
This is a good reminder that we can surround ourselves with scripture, and books on scripture, and those who can discuss the wonderful intricacies of the text with us, and yet we can miss the central message of what we are so committed to knowing. I can understand the high priests missing the first announcement of Christ’s birth – it was specifically directed to the blue-collar workers on the night shift out in the boonies of Bethlehem. But then the Magi came through town, explaining why they were in Jerusalem (“Where is the one who has been born the King of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”Matt 2:2). All the best and the brightest were called together by Herod (“and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people” Matt 2:4). The Magi asked for information from the experts of their day,got a Mapquest answer, and went on their way to find Him. Why didn’t a delegation from the temple head down to Bethlehem right behind them? Or if that was too dangerous, too politically incorrect, maybe just one temple scholar could have surreptitiously made the trip ? Don’t you think this meeting with the seeker-Magi would have sparked some interest to see if what the prophet said about where the Messiah was to be born was accurate, if for nothing more than to satisfy intellectual curiosity? Or was knowing the answer enough; was finding the verse in the text and being able to quote it enough for them? (This is where I think I really sound crabby. Am I right?)
Guess I need to cool my self-righteously crabby jets. As another facebook reader commented: ” Teri – I totally agree with your post. But, religious experts were afraid.. it wasn’t pc to ‘buck the system’ … I cannot cast the first stone..”
So true – if I had been living at the time of Jesus’ birth, the time of Herod, I probably wouldn’t have risked my life to check out the new-born King, either. Herod was not the least bit averse to killing anybody, even babies, if he thought they might threaten his authority. And yet I also I need to remember that knowing and reciting scripture is not the be-all and end-all of a believer’s life. As one dear teacher would say, as disciples of Christ we are to ‘know, grow, go and show’. I must remember to move – get up and out of my office, get away from my laptop and go look for the Messiah to worship Him, and then follow Him wherever He leads me. I’ll probably be less crabby if I do that, too, don’t you think?