Pastoral Perspectives

Encounter Of A Certain Kind – Looking For Jesus

Christmas today is nothing like it was two millenniums ago. Christmas today has lost its true meaning. People spend endless amount of hours shopping for a special gift for their love ones. Giving and receiving gifts have lost their sentimental value and Christmas has become one big retailer’s party. The traditional Christmas season years ago were more spiritual than commercial. Two millenniums ago, two sets of men each received a special invitation from beyond time and space. The men of course are the shepherds and wise men and God’s invitation was for them to be present at the birth of Jesus, His only Son – that’s the Encounter of A Certain Kind.

            This Encounter Of A certain Kind by the shepherds and wise men played in that first Christmas is found in Luke 2:8-16,20 and Matthew 2:1-9.

Luke 2:8-16,20SHEPHERDMatthew 2:1-9WISEMEN
SOCIAL STRATADirty and smelled like sheep.Despised and mistrusted by others.The lowest class of the lowest class of their cultureMen of influence.No trouble gaining admission to Herod’s palace.The upper of the upper class.
FINANCIAL STATUSThe poorest of the poor.Had no possessions.They didn’t bring gifts.The richest of the rich.Men of substance.Presented the newborn King with VERY expensive gifts: gold, incense, and myrrh.
EDUCATIONNot educated enough to read the Jewish Scriptures.No formal schooling. Famed for their knowledge – scientists, mathematicians, philosophers, doctors as well as the legal authorities of their culture.
DISTANCE TRAVELEDVery close enough to get to manger not long after Jesus’ was born.Could have been as far as a two-year journey. (v.11) 

From the above chart, we can see that God came for everyone, from the most despised shepherds to the most educated wise men. Jesus came to be Saviour for ALL mankind. Shortly after the birth of the Messiah, Judean shepherds bowed at His feet and worshipped Him. Matthew 2:11 it says that the wise men bowed down and worshiped Jesus as soon as they saw Him.Our first response this Christmas is to worship God. The most appropriate way to observe Christmas is not with our world’s seasonal obsession with things…but with worship. In fact the word Christmas literally means “The Mass of Christos” which is an annual time of worshiping God praising Him for sending His Son to be born for us so long ago. Do we look for Jesus, just like the shepherds and the wise men who set off at once and found the Christ child.

            Yes, Jesus journeyed across the universe to save us. Our journey is no longer to Bethlehem but to Heaven. We’re not going to see the babe in a manger; we’re going to see the King of kings and Lord of lords. Unlike the shepherds and wise men we’re not going for a quick visit, we’re making plans to spend eternity with our Saviour. So don’t get sidetracked.  Stay on course.  God is with you if you look for Him.

            These Shepherds and Wise Men saw the King of kings and Lord of lords!  They stood in the presence of the Saviour of the world and worshiped Him face to face.  They were privileged to see the One who is called, “the Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father, Mighty God, and Prince of Peace.”  They stood in the presence of Emmanuel!

            This Christmas season let me ask you, Are you ready for the Encounter Of A Certain Kind – Looking for Jesus?  Are you ready for this encounter of a lifetime?  This special invitation from beyond time and space is for you.  The Shepherd’s invitation was even more spectacular than that of the wise men. As Luke says, …the glory of the Lord shone AROUND them and an angel spoke to them and told them of the Saviour who had been born in Bethlehem. That wondrous announcement was then expanded by the addition of a great company of angels who praised God, saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favour rests! So, unlike the wise men, the shepherd’s invitation was both visual and verbal. The Bible tells us that both of these groups of men ACCEPTED God’s invitation. They responded to His special summons and traveled to attend Jesus’ birth. May the first Christmas teach us about this amazing visit from the Son of God for we too have received an invitation from God to hear and respond to the good news that Jesus’ birth heralded.

            We don’t have angels or stars to guide us to Jesus but we do have the Bible. Let’s be wise to pay attention to this written invitation into God’s presence. The shepherds and the wise men had one very important thing in common. They were wise enough to follow where God was leading. Maybe this Christmas, for the first time, God has guided you as He did those shepherds and wise men to the point that you have been confronted with the Saviour of the world. And today you face a decision to repent of your sin and accept Jesus as Lord of your life or to reject Him and walk another way. You know you can’t really celebrate Christmas until you decide to accept God’s gift of salvation through His Son.

Pastor Cheng Huat

December 4, 2011