Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What's Important

Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize Him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger." Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, "Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased." (Luke 2:9-14 NLT)

The last couple blog posts, I've discussed timing and distances traveled for Jesus and his parents.  I've also worked through some math to guess at the age of Jesus when the magi arrived to see him.  These are the things Biblical Scholars do: try to answer our questions through the truth of God's word.

Do we ever ask ourselves, though, "Is this the right question?"

God's Word is given to us not just to tell us a story.  It's not given to us just to verify its historical, archaeological  or scientific accuracy.  It's not even intended to answer all our questions.  It's given to us to communicate a message.  God's Word communicates something from God to us.  What we should be asking is this: "What does God want to communicate to us?"

In Luke's Gospel, the details of Jesus' birth all leads us to this conclusion.  Jesus wasn't like every other child.  When Jesus was born, "The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord" was born.  Jesus is the one we've been waiting for thousands of years to see.  Matthew gives us a similar message.  The story of the magi was not about how long the star was in the sky, how long they traveled, or how old Jesus was when they got there.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw His star as it rose, and we have come to worship Him." When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with His mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:1-2,10-11 NLT)

Matthew's point is clear.  Jesus is the "newborn king of the Jews."  Even non-believers from far off understood this truth and brought him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh: gifts for a king.

Sometimes, we get caught in the trap of asking Scripture to answer questions it was never intended to answer.  Instead, we need to search for what is important to the writer of the text, because the human writer was carried along by God's Spirit to communicate God's message to us.  In other words, we should be searching for the right question: the question it was intended to answer.  Then, and only then, will we begin to hear the voice of God.

Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31 NIV84)