Tuesday, December 8, 2009

"At The Risk Of Ruining Christmas...Part I", by Pastor Kevin Lynch

I know. That's an overstatement. The only way Christmas could be ruined by telling the truth is if one didn't believe in the true Christmas to begin with.

The truth is what we all want. Don't we?

How about if it takes a little wind out of the beloved stories you've heard since childhood?

I run the risk of that this morning. In fact, the list is long enough to mention over several mornings.

Many of us have been raised with an incorrectness concerning the events surrounding Christ's birth.

In fact, much of what many believe has come from Christmas songs rather than the Bible!

Some is flat out myth, and some are possibilities, but really nothing more than speculation.

Facts are facts however, and they need no "punching up".

The truth is more exciting than the fiction created to embellish it.

One of my pinch points when it comes to the telling of the Christmas Story is the complete myth surrounding the Wise Men, or Magi.

It's a great story on it's own, but what is generally heard is far from the truth and not in the Bible at all.

The story of the "Three" Wise Men, has become ingrained. So much so that when I tell the truth, people just sort of stare back at me blankly.

Matthew 2:1-2 - "NOW WHEN Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men [astrologers] from the east came to Jerusalem, asking, (2) Where is He Who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east at its rising and have come to worship Him."

For instance, where does it mention there were three? Possibly some confusion because three types of gifts are mentioned? It doesn't mean three men brought them. It could have been six men. Or only two.

Matt. 2:11 - "And on going into the house, they saw the Child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then opening their treasure bags, they presented to Him gifts--gold and frankincense and myrrh."

Also, I'll venture a guess that your nativity scene at home contains three wise men standing around Jesus with the barnyard animals, angels, and the shepherds (not without problems of it's own).

The truth is they weren't even there for His birth. It's impossible. In fact, they probably didn't show up until almost two years later, at the least after the dedication in the Temple. The Word insinuates the visitation happened at Jesus' "home" (which is another issue that we need to address). A careful reading of the gospel bears this out. It appears they visited just before they fled Bethlehem as the result of Herod trying to kill Jesus. The fact that he targeted children up to two years old says that Jesus was older than a newborn at this point.

Tradition has even gone as far as naming the Magi (Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthazar), when in fact we don't have any idea of who they actually were or where they came from, other than "the East". We only know that Magi is a root word for magic, or magician, so we gather they were probably astrologists or astronomers of some sort, because they saw something in the "Star" over Bethlehem. Another popular misconception is that they were "kings". Again, no proof of that other than what has been written in the lyrics of a popular Christmas carol (We Three Kings).

We also know for sure that they visited with Herod, and that Herod tried to get them to find Jesus and report back to him. The Magi were subsequently warned in a dream to avoid Herod, so after visiting Jesus, they fled back to their homelands.

Matt. 2:12 - "And receiving an answer to their asking, they were divinely instructed and warned in a dream not to go back to Herod; so they departed to their own country by a different way."

No harm done? Well, I beg to differ. Any non-truth, especially when it concerns the Word of God, opens the door to tinker with the rest of the Bible, which incidentally, has already occurred many times over.

It's bad enough the Word gets slandered for being a myth as it stands alone in the truth. We don't need to add wood to that fire by having to defend ridiculous allegations which are indeed added, no matter how well meaning that endeavor may have been.

Jesus said the truth sets us free. Conversely, anything contrary to the truth, no matter how harmless it may appear, holds us in bondage.

The truth of the Christmas story is so wonderful, so amazing, so beautiful, that it doesn't need a thing to make it more exciting or appealing.

Be blessed today, and remember to keep Christ in Christmas!

Keepin' it Real,

Pastor Kevin <><

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