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The story after Christmas Eve

December 30, 2021

Daily Scripture

Matthew 2:1-6

1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the rule of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem. 2 They asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him.”

3 When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, and everyone in Jerusalem was troubled with him. 4 He gathered all the chief priests and the legal experts and asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They said, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what the prophet wrote:

6 You, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
by no means are you least among the rulers of Judah,
because from you will come one who governs,
who will shepherd my people Israel” [Micah 5:2, 2 Samuel 5:2].

Daily Reflection & Prayer

We read Matthew 2 as part of the Christmas story, but its events actually happened after Jesus’ birth. The Greek word magoi, which Matthew used, usually identified students of the stars. These notable visitors, most likely from modern Iran, arrived an unspecified amount of time “after Jesus was born in Bethlehem.” Israel was just a minor Roman province. No one would have expected non-Hebrew scholars to travel far to see, much less to worship, even a “king of the Jews.”

  • Roman historians Suetonius and Tacitus wrote that when Jesus was born, an ancient prophecy led many to believe a world ruler would rise in Judea. Both Romans said the prophecy must have meant Emperor Vespasian. The Romans missed the true king, as did the priests and legal experts who rattled off Micah’s prophecy about Bethlehem. The eastern visitors didn’t. In what ways can you keep your mind and heart open, so as not to miss where God is at work?
  • In Ezekiel 34:1-16, as well as in Micah 5:4, God promised that he would shepherd his people. Jesus, grown up, said he was the promised “good shepherd,” offering those who follow him “life to the fullest” (John 10:1-15). In what ways do ads for everything from cars to computers, alcoholic beverages to hair-care products, hold out that promise? How easy or hard do you find it to trust that Jesus truly offers you the fullest, most satisfying life in your everyday “real world”?

Lord Jesus, keep my eyes and my heart open to signs that you are at work in and around my life. Thank you for being the shepherd who guides me to life to the fullest. Amen.

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Picture of  Mikiala Tennie

Mikiala Tennie

Mikiala Tennie serves as the Student Discipleship Program Director with Resurrection Students. She has nearly 20 years of volunteer and professional ministry experience and loves walking alongside and encouraging others in their spiritual journey. Mikiala is blessed to be an adoptive aunt and godmother to many kiddos and lives with her 10-pound Yorkie, KiKi Okoye Tennie.

The week between Christmas and New Years can get a little hazy at times. There’s something about how Christmas can fall on any day of the week, thus making the days following feel as if they are all out of order whether you go in to work between the holidays or get to experience a bit of a lengthier vacation. I imagine the Magi of Matthew chapter 2 felt a similar disorientation after the first Christmas. There was a lengthy journey for them after Christ’s birth. There they were, following a star to an unknown location and then upon their arrival, they were sent back out to keep looking for the Christ child.

I don’t know what your Christmas looked like this year…if it was filled with a hustle and bustle that left you exhausted and bleary-eyed in the week to follow…or if your Christmas was quiet and contemplative, or tinged with a little bit of grief and disappointment that makes each passing day an effort to keep trudging through the fog. Either way, I feel like the Magi of old, on their quest for the Newborn King, could relate. The initial excitement of charting and trekking after a star, followed by the hustle and bustle to get where they were going, followed by the eventual quiet that settles in on a journey taking longer than expected, followed by the disappointment of not quite finding what you were looking for just yet…

The thing to remember for our own post-Christmas journeys is this: just like it was for the Magi, Christmas isn’t just about the day the Baby was born. It’s about the journey to meet Christ. So as the day of Christmas grows farther and farther away, use this time to settle in for the long arduous journey—the ups and downs, the joy and yes, the weariness—all for the purpose of seeking to meet Christ in each day that passes after His birth.

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.