by Dr. David Robinson
Being in the Christmas spirit, I felt impressed to write something about our Leader’s birthday.
The star in Matthew 2 indicates Jesus’ arrival. He is present. At a Jewish wedding in John 2, Jesus manifested His presence. You can be present without having presence. Too often, the Church is present in the marketplace without having presence.
Who is Jesus? The magi settled in their hearts who Jesus was before they began their search. You only seek for whom you think you will find. They sought for a king with something to give, not receive anything. Love determines the effort, thus, the two-year journey. Worship always precedes giving. Value is always associated with giving. They opened their treasures to Him. Revelation always follows giving. God told them to go home another way.
Whom you worship always challenges the status quo. From birth, Jesus has always been a challenge to every other religion or belief. Why? Because Jesus is Lord! Herod, the reigning Roman king’s authority is now challenged. The number one sign a politician is in trouble is insecurity – “Tell me where He is so that I can come and worship Him too!”
Royalty is best confirmed when acknowledged by other royalty. One day all earthly kings will acknowledge Jesus as King of all kings.
“And the nations of them which are saved live in the light (Christ)…and the
kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it.” Revelation 21:24
Wise men by their travel, worship, and gifts acknowledged – here is someone who, not only made an appearance, but also came to make a difference. The Early Church did have the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed; they simply said, “Jesus Is Lord” and trumped all other claims.
Where is Jesus? A star over a manger does not answer this question. The Savior is present but has no real presence. A king in a manger threatens no one. In every Christmas pagent, the baby Jesus has no lines or dialogue. He wears next to nothing. Everyone upstages Him. Angels are fluttering; shepherds are adoring; parents are cooing; kings are worshipping and the animals are making noise.
If you really want to know where Jesus is, you have to look beyond the manger. We could look to the temple where, at age 12, He astounded the elders with His insights. Religious leaders always seem astounded when confronted with the Truth. No we have to look to the context of a Jewish wedding for His manifested presence. The Holy Spirit through the Apostle John, chose this occasion to launch the “presence” of Jesus’ ministry. He is not only present – He now has presence.
Why did the wine run out? Maybe an inaccurate head count or some failed to RSVP, the text does not say. Wine was the symbol of joy at all Jewish weddings. Without it, the celebration could not continue! The host is embarrassed, his reputation ruined, the brides family shamed, caterer looks incompetent, and the crowd grows restless.
Jesus’ mother steps in – “Do whatever He tells you, He is Lord – He can do anything.” The miracle was not turning the water into wine, impressive as it was. For 2,000 years many have debated if the new wine was metaphorical, metaphysical, symbolic, spiritual wine, or grape juice.
The miracle was the transformation of the future – the party could continue. Notice how the host described the miracle – “You have saved the best for now and the best is yet to come.” With Jesus, the future is always better than the past, and the best days are yet to come. Where is Jesus? He is in your past, “Slain before the foundation of the world.” He is in your present, “Ever present help in time of need.” He is in your future, “Cutting down mountains, making crooked ways straight, and filling in the pot holes of life.”
What is Jesus doing now? His greatest miracles today are not healing the sick, making the lame to walk, or the blind to see – but removing fear and doubt about today’s reality and tomorrow’s unknown. Jesus’ greatest miracle is wrapped up in three words – “Be not afraid,” or as the angels told the shepherds – “Fear not….” Fear of our past catching up to us, fear of our present overwhelming us, or fear of what tomorrow may bring.
Jesus’ greatest work today is through the Church, not scattered in local congregations on Sundays, but when gathered in the marketplace Monday through Saturday. Jesus has given us the opportunity to bring joy to others. We cannot change someones’ past. However, we can transform their future because of the well of “new wine” flowing out of us – if we make Jesus the center of our joy! Let the Church no longer be satisfied with just being present. Let the Holy Spirit, resident in every Christian, give Her real presence in a world so desperate for peace that only the presence of a risen Savior can bring.
Have a very Merry Christmas Season!