The Christmas Story Challenges Our Prejudices Part 1
Matthew’s account of Jesus’s birth and the subsequent visit by some wise men is a microcosm of the entire gospel. He employs a standard ancient literary device of contrasting characters. The Magi come and worship Jesus while Herod seeks his death. The Magi reveal God’s grace while Herod reveals man’s sin. The faith seeking Magi in contrast to the faith rejecting Herod. And Matthew wants us to identify with these pagan wise men from the East not the reigning political leaders of the time, nor the spiritual elite of Jerusalem. No, Matthew’s gospel wants us to identify with the outsiders – outsiders in both race and profession – Gentiles and astrologers.
Matthew challenges our prejudices against pagan outsiders. The Magi were not led to the Christ child through conventional church programs or evangelical methods. They found Jesus while practicing their idolatry. The stars, God’s natural revelation, led them to His saving revelation, the incarnate Word lying in a sheep shed. To those of us who tend to put God in our theological box please note how He uses the Magi’s idol as a means of inviting them to the first Christmas party. God has always gone to great measures to overcome racial and moral barriers to draw those who are considered outsiders and unworthy in order to make His church more interracial and merciful.
As we encounter the outsiders of our day, especially this Advent season, let us be reminded that like the Magi they may actually be walking illustrations of outsiders under grace. Let’s invite them to the Christmas party and to God’s saving revelation.