“He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” John 1:11 (NKJV)
Imagine receiving a gift for Christmas but never opening it! Unthinkable, right? It happened that first Christmas. Matthew tells us that wise men from the East had come all the way to Jerusalem following a star in hope of finding Jesus, the newborn King of the Jews. Their presence in the city caused no small response. Everyone from the King himself was deeply troubled by these strangers from the East and their questions about this newborn King, a Messiah that they were trying to locate in the city.
King Herod called a meeting with the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked them where the Messiah was supposed to be born. Quoting from the Old Testament Prophet, Micah, the religious leaders told the King and the wise men that the Messiah was predicted to be born in Bethlehem, just five miles away! I find it remarkable that neither Herod, nor the religious leaders went with the wise men to find Jesus. The gift of God’s Son was offered to the world! Foretold by the prophets of old, announced by angels to the shepherds, later inquired by strangers in the East, this gift of Christmas remained unopened to the hearts of the very people for whom He came! Think of it! They were just five miles away from experiencing the Savior of the world! When the Wise Men were told where the Messiah was to be born, the Bible says that the star they had followed to Jerusalem now guided them to Bethlehem.
“It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. 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….” (Matthew 2:9b-11a NLT)
I often wondered, when I read this account, why the star ever stopped in Jerusalem in the first place. Why didn’t God just lead them directly to Bethlehem? It seems that God was extending His invitation for all of Jerusalem to know and to come with the Wise Men to see His Son, to receive the gift of Christmas! A gift is never really received until it is opened! Have you opened your heart to the Christ of Christmas? When you do, your heart will be filled with joy!