Saturday, 2nd January 2021
Title: New Year Dawning
Wong Yoke Ming
Scripture: Matthew 2:1-2
Now after Jesus was born in 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 saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
We just celebrated Christmas, a rejoicing over the birth of our Lord Jesus, and the Magi who were Gentiles said it for us – for they had come to worship the King of the Jews. In Luke 2, Luke narrated that the shepherds who were Jews went to Bethlehem to see ‘this thing that had happened’, which the Lord had made known to them.
The gospel according to Matthew did not mention the shepherds, and the gospel according to Luke did not mention the Magi; but one thing was clear – in response to the news – the Magi worshiped, and the shepherds glorified and praised God for all they had heard and seen. However, we need to take note of another response – that of king Herod sought to kill the infant Jesus.
Jesus Christ was born in a region where the Romans had conquered and ruled the land, and at a time when a host of ‘religious practices’ were observed out of fear of not ‘pleasing’ the gods; and in not doing so, believed that calamity and the wrath of the ‘gods’ would strike the people.
Today the world is again teeming with even more ‘religious practices’ and, worse still, even Christianity has been riddled with deviant practices. And this Christmas season brings to us an opportunity to reflect on what we believe and profess. The just passed year has been beset with upheavals, the likes of which we have not seen in a very long time: earthquakes, wild storms, wildfires, a raging viral pandemic that came from seemingly nowhere.
Luke’s gospel told of a time when Jews glorified and praised God. Matthew’s gospel told of the same time and place when Gentiles worshiped God, but also a time when evil threatened to destroy the kingdom of God. It also spoke of God’s angelic warnings.
And as the aged Simeon held the baby Jesus in his arms, he blessed God, “For my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
The Apostle Paul wrote in his epistle to the church in Rome:
For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. (Romans 9:6-8)
And again, Paul wrote to the Gentiles in the Roman church:
Do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root who supports you. Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. (Romans 11:18-21)
So, the right standing of the church has been built on a platform of righteous faith, but Billy Graham once said that the church, the people of God, was a mile wide and an inch deep. The depth of belief anchors the church to the Root, and Billy Graham said that depth was being eroded. Are we like the Magi who came from afar in the east, following a bright star, so that they might worship the One who was born King? Or the shepherds who came to see this ‘thing’ that had happened? Or Herod who sought to kill the “Salvation” from God?
Someone wrote this:
So, is God now here OR is God nowhere?
Lord, we have just come off a time of rejoicing, remembering the hope that came to us through the birth of our Lord Jesus. And as we go into a new year, we pray for a time of healing after a calamitous 2020; we pray for a renewed hope in 2021 that will strengthen an enduring faith in the Root that supports us. In His Name, Amen.
马太福音没有提到牧羊人，路加福音没有提到博士。但是，响应这一消息，有一件事很清楚，即博士朝拜，牧羊人荣耀和赞美上帝，因他们所听到和看到的一切。但是，我们需要注意另一种应对措施 – 希律王试图杀死婴儿耶稣。
如今，世界再次充满了更多的“宗教习俗”，更糟糕的是，甚至基督教也充满了反常的习俗。这个圣诞节季节为我们带来了一个反思的机会 – 我们所相信和所信奉。刚刚过去的一年，充满了动荡，很久以来我们都没有见过这样的动荡：地震，狂风暴雨，野火，看似来自无处的大流行病毒。
当年迈的西 面将小耶稣抱在怀里时，他就祝福了上帝：“因为我的眼睛已经看见你的救恩，就是你在万民面前所预备的，是照亮外邦人的光，又是你民以色列的荣耀。” （路 加 福 音 2: 30-32）
因此，教堂的正确地位是建立在正义信仰的平台上，但是葛培理（Billy Graham）曾经说过，上帝的子民教堂是一里宽，一寸深。信仰的深度使教会扎根，而葛培理（Billy Graham）说，这种深度正在受到侵蚀。我们是否像来自东方远方的博士，跟随一颗璀璨的星辰，以便崇拜那位天生的国王？还是来看”这件事”的牧羊人？还是像希律王试图杀死上帝的“救赎”？