Theme: Obeying the Summons and Finding the Savior
In this week’s lessons, we look at those in the Christmas story who found Christ and worshipped him in truth.
Scripture: Luke 2:8-20
The second experience that the shepherds and the wise men had in common is that they obeyed God’s summons. You can imagine a situation where the announcement would be heard and the call would be given, but disobedience would follow. As I reflect on their response, I think of that movie that appeared some years ago titled, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It was about an invitation given by extraterrestrials to some people on earth to come to a meeting place at a certain time. So these people were trying to get to this certain location so they could receive the visitation from the spaceship when it arrived. They had received this unusual summons, and they wanted to be there.
To the shepherds and the wise men, and to us as well, there is an invitation to an even greater encounter, in which God Himself comes to earth in the person of His Son. When the shepherds and wise men received their invitations to that event, they obeyed God’s summons instantly. Perhaps we could imagine the magi saying to themselves, “Well you know, we’ve been studying the stars for a long time, and it does appear to us as if that star is the star of the Messiah, for whom the world has been waiting. We ought to go, but you know this kind of study is not an exact science. There are different kinds of interpretations given. We could be wrong in our thinking. After all, Jerusalem is far away, and probably other people will go to do what we would do.” Or we could wonder if the shepherds might be concluding among themselves, “What a glorious thing we have just seen and heard, but it is certainly too glorious for us. Angels actually appeared announcing the birth of God’s Savior. But after all, we’re just shepherds. They would never welcome us. Besides who’ll take care of the sheep while we are gone?”
We know that isn’t the way they responded. This is a matter of priorities. All those other things are perfectly valid concerns but this is the birth of the Son of God. This is the Savior. This is the very point up to which all the history of the world has led, and from which all the history of the world is going to flow from this point on. These men didn’t delay or become distracted with secondary thoughts. They had been invited in different ways to this great event, and they did not hesitate whether or not they were going to obey and go. Have you responded to God’s summons? Have you responded to the invitation of the Lord Jesus Christ? He said, “Come to me, all you who are wearied and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Have you come? That’s the message of Christmas, and you will never find it until you do.
There’s a third similarity I notice between the experience of the shepherds and wise men. Not only did they receive an invitation and obey God’s summons, but they actually found the Savior. This was not a case of responding rightly to a situation but somehow failing to receive what was intended. When these men heard the announcement and obeyed the summons, they actually found Jesus Christ. That is the goal for anyone who receives such an invitation and responds rightly.
Have you found Jesus? Do you know Him to be your Lord and your Savior? Do you know that one who was born on that first Christmas day so long ago? Do you know that one who grew up to teach and to die for the sin of the world, and to rise again in power from the dead to be your Lord and the Lord of the church? If you ask how you are going to learn that, the answer is that you learn it from the Bible. That is where God speaks, and that is where Jesus is to be found.
If you have not yet found Christ, as you read of Him in Scripture pray something like this: “’Lord God, I’m not yet a Christian, and I’m not sure if these spiritual things are true. But if you exist, and if these things concerning Jesus Christ are true, and He really is the Savior, then as I read the Bible I am praying that you would teach me and bring me to a conviction of your truth. And if you work that way in my life, I will believe on Christ and follow Him as a disciple for the rest of my life.”
What is the second step in the shepherds’ and wise men’s spiritual experience? How did they demonstrate it? What excuses or distractions might they have had, but put aside to focus on their proper response?
What is the third similarity between these two groups?
Application: Do you have any family members or close friends who are not Christians? How can you try to impress upon them the need to commit their lives to Christ?