Weeping and gnashing of teeth

Gene Holman

Gene Holman
Special to The R-C

A very appealing element of the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ is the circumstances surrounding the event were beautifully plain and simple. A star, a manger, a Virgin giving birth with her bewildered husband looking on, and some shepherds watching with wonder in the background. These simple images illustrate the entire Christmas narrative, --almost.

A few verses in St. Matthew introduces a surprising element of trouble to the otherwise joyful Christmas story. “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His Star in the East and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him”. (Matt. 2:1-4}

The first surprise is the amazing impact baby Jesus made on the world before he could voice his first baby cry. Wise men from the East, several hundred miles away, were made aware of the pending birth of the king of the Jews by divine revelation. Guided by the light from an unknown heavenly source, they made their way over harsh desert terrain to a small town of Bethlehem and a manger in the field where a baby lay wrapped in swaddling cloth. The journey was made to acknowledge and worship a newborn king and present him with extravagant and costly gifts.

More surprising was the fact was King Herod and the whole city of Jerusalem, (which lay only six miles south of Bethlehem) was troubled. It is difficult to imagine a Roman king troubled by a newborn Jewish baby lying in a manger unless he was paranoid about his future security of kingship. But even so, why was the rest of the city also troubled?

The great English Evangelist Charles Spurgeon once said, “The real reason that many are troubled by the religion of Jesus Christ is because the gospel interferes with their sin. If I become a Christian,” they reason, “I cannot live as I have been accustomed to living, so I will not believe the gospel. The great argument against the Bible is an ungodly life.”

The saddest part of the story is that not a single person in the troubled city of Jerusalem, so very close to Bethlehem, bothered to investigate the birth of the newborn king. Not Herod with his hypocrisy, nor Jerusalem, the center of the Jewish religion and highly respected and educated priests with intimate knowledge all the ancient prophecies concerning the future coming of a Jewish Messiah- king.

It may be a sober confirmation of the adage, “familiarity breeds contempt”. Are we making the same mistake in our time, our nation, and our culture? The words of Jesus in the Matt. 8:11-12 is a sober warning of the coming judgement. “Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom (that is, people who’ve heard the gospel since they were children)- shall be, cast out into outer darkness: There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth”

Pastor Gene Holman of Living Word Fellowship in Gardnerville is a member of Carson Valley Ministers’ Association


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