Saturday, December 12, 2009

Of Kings and Shepherds

Have you ever contemplated the difference between the worship of the shepherds and that of the wise men? Although most manger scenes depict these magi from the East and the shepherds gazing on baby Jesus with rapt attention, according to the biblical account we know this was not the case. Let’s trace the early days and possibly years of Jesus’ earthly life:

The shepherds' visit:
“So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger” (Luke 2:15-16).

Jesus’ presentation at the temple:
“And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord…So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him” (Luke 2:21-22; 39-40).

The travels and visit of the wise men:
“When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:9-11).

Although the calendar dates differed, both groups did come before the young King with amazement and worship. However, the wise men arrived at the house with well-thought-out, expensive gifts of “gold, frankincense, and myrrh”. The shepherds, hurriedly dispatched by the angel, probably arrived with possibly no more than their staff.

However, worship is not about what we bring; it involves what is unseen. God looks on the heart, not our lofty prayer, and not even how big an offering we toss into the collection plate. Consider these components of true worship:

“For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:16-17).

"Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness” (Psalm 29:2).

“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him” (John 4:23).

“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15).

Repentance...holiness...truth...praise. “Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn King!”

Best wishes from lefthandrightbrain:)