Matters of Faith: Different Influences on Different People!

Rev. J. Loren Russell

By: Rev. J. Loren Russell

Matthew 2:1-4 (NKJV)

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.”

Jesus is the one who the Bible says was miraculously born of a virgin in a manger in Bethlehem. He’s the one whose birth so captivated the world that human history itself is categorized by that single event. Everything prior to His birth is called BC (Before Christ), everything after, AD (Anno Domini; the year of our Lord). He is the one who was before the world began; the one that is called Lord of Lord and King kings, the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, the lily of the valley and the bright and morning star. He is the focus of the text and every other story contained in the Bible. He is the one who influenced the actions of the other three primary characters in these verses of scripture.

It was about a year or more after His birth that the characters in the text make their appearances. The first to be mentioned is the king, Herod the Great (more about him later). Then there are the Wise Men from the east, and finally, the chief priests and scribes.

The Wise Men had been looking diligently for Him. They show up on the scene inquiring where they could find Jesus, the one who was born “King of the Jews.” They explained that they saw ‘his’ star in the east and have come to worship Him. They recognized the majesty of the Christ and wanted to be in His presence. They left all they had in their home town specifically to find him, give Him gifts of gold, frank incense and myrrh, and to worship Him. They recognized His majesty before they every saw Him. I like to think that these Wise Men received a lot more than they gave.

Without phones, emails, or texting, the word that the Wise Men were in town got to King Herod. Herod was a ruthless and murderous king who only sat on the throne because the Romans had forcibly taken it and appointed him. Yet his fear was apparent. He thought he could lose the throne if there really was someone born a king, even if that someone was only a child. Herod started a search for Jesus also, but not to worship Him. His fear was so intense and his determination to kill Him was so strong that he ordered all the male children in and around Bethlehem who were 2 years of age or younger, to be killed (v. 16).

Before he made that order, he called all the chief priests and scribes together, demanding that they tell him where the Christ child had been born. These men are the third primary characters in the text. They knew the scriptures and the prophecy, but they didn’t care nor were they concerned. If Herod had not asked, they would have completely ignored the prophetic word altogether. They didn’t believe that Jesus could be the promised Messiah and they certainly weren’t looking for Him.

As we observe those three primary characters in the text, we begin to see that Jesus influences people in different ways. On some, like the Wise Men, He influences them in such a way that all they want to do is find Him so that they could serve Him in whatever way they can. On others, like Herod, all they want to do is find Him, so they can kill Him and prevent anyone else from being influenced by Him. On still others, like the chief priests and scribes, they ignore His presence as if He doesn’t even exist. Even if they heard about Him and know the prophecy of His coming, it means nothing. They could care less and won’t even bother looking for Him.

As we prepare to celebrate the day of His birth, I wonder how you have been influenced by Christ. Is Christmas just a time for giving and receiving gifts, go to parties and socialize, or is there more to Christmas that that? Do a little introspection during this Christmas holy-day season, and ask yourself, “How has Christ influenced my life and why am I looking for Him?” The Wise Men sought Him. Herod opposed Him. The chief priests and scribes ignored Him. Jeremiah says, “And ye shall seek me and find me, when ye shall search for me with your heart” (29:13). Will you be ‘wise’ in your choice? He really does have different influences on different people.

Merry Christmas!

Rev. J. Loren Russell is an associate minister at both Goodwill and The Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx, President/CEO of The JLR Company for Church Financial & Strategic Consulting, host of “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” on Soul 1 Radio, Monday’s 8:00 – 10:00 PM (626-226-1448), and author of Matters of Faith: The Book.

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