Lessons for celebrating Christmas from Benin
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.
Matthew 2:1–4, NIV (Read the full text — Matthew 2:1–12)
We discover in this text three different approaches to understanding the nativity that each represent a form of relationship that we can develop with Jesus: the Magi (worship), the religious leaders (indifference) and Herod (persecution).
The Magi, strangers to the nation and the God of Israel, come from afar to worship the King of the Jews whose star they saw. God uses the elements of their belief to reveal himself to them, teaching us that Jesus came for all, regardless of their religion. Christmas must remind us of those who are not yet Christians and make us realize that no one is far enough away from God to have no hope of being attracted to him.
We are struck by the indifference of the religious leaders despite their great knowledge of the Messiah. Have we also become so accustomed to the things of God in general, and to the celebration of the Nativity in particular, to the point of neglecting the relationship with him, of being strangers to his life?
Herod was a stranger to God, but he cleverly used the knowledge of the religious leaders to seek to suppress the existence of Jesus. We too can fall into the trap that makes Christmas a rather commercial celebration, emptied of the relational link with God, for the benefit of capitalism.
Christmas for every believer should be a celebration of the faithfulness of the God who keeps his promises, of his love which excludes no one, and of his omnipotence by which he always accomplishes his purposes.
Mombinou Dorichamou, Development and communications, IFES Francophone Africa
Quotations marked NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.