Tomorrow I am preaching a short Christmas sermon at Deer Run Campground. Its a fun event the campground is putting on, and people will be dressed up as santa, and singing Christmas carols. Should be lots of fun.
In my preparation for the event, I’ve been thinking about the way people respond to the news of Jesus’s birth.
There are three main categories, with four major characters.
First is the shepherds. These are people who really had no idea what was going on. They were minding their own business and all of a sudden a bunch of angels appeared. They were not looking for the Son of God, they were not studying the scriptures or the stars or doing much of anything. Just watching sheep at night. After hearing the news, they immediately set out looking for him until they found him, and then the told everyone else afterwards.
Second is the magi, or wise men. These people are perhaps the most unusual in the gospel accounts. They came from the East, presumably around Babylon, because they saw a star. The star led them into Israel, where they briefly sidetracked to go speak with Herod. After that, the star led them directly to where Jesus was. They went straight to him, and immediately recognized him even though he was just a baby, or possibly a young toddler. These were people who did not know the scriptures, did not know the history of Israel, and had nothing to do with Israel whatsoever. Yet they traveled an incredible distance into a foreign country, bringing expensive gifts. Of all the people in the birth story, these magi clearly made the biggest sacrifice to find Jesus.
Next is the chief priests and teachers of the law. These people were called in by Herod to explain where the Son of God would be born. They immediately pulled out their books of the Minor Prophets and pointed to Micah, saying the Son of God would be born in Bethlehem. Then they rolled up their scrolls and went home, thinking nothing of it. These people knew the most. They had the answers, and they lived only a few miles from Bethlehem, yet they did not go to see Jesus, and did not even show interest in what was happening. Unlike the shepherds and the magi, when they heard the news they simply shrugged their shoulders and kept doing what they were doing. they were neutral.
Last is Herod, who did everything in his power to kill Jesus, going so far as to kill all the baby boys he could find in the general area.
This leaves us with three categories of people. The Pro-Jesus people, the Neutrals, and the Anti. The shepherds and the Magi are Pro-Jesus. The teachers and priests are Neutral, and Herod is Anti.
However, that is not how things remained. By the time Jesus grew into a man there were no more Neutrals. All the teachers and priests and Pharisees had made up their minds. The vast majority of them had turned against Jesus and sought to kill him. A few, such as Joseph of Aramathea and Nicodemus, were Pro-Jesus. The rest of them became Antis, and nailed him to a cross until he died.
In the same way, when push comes to shove, every single person in the world will someday choose between being Pro-Jesus and being Anti-Jesus. There is no neutral ground with him. Either he is the Son of God or he is not.
If he is, then he deserves to be worshiped. If he is not, then he deserves to be killed, for claiming to be. Either the Magi and the Shepherds were right, or Herod was right. Either join him, or fight against him. There is no neutral ground.
Choose for yourself, and do it carefully.