Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Beacon Touchpaper #17: "Eyewitness"

"...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.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him..." (Matt 2.1-3, ESV)

Picture it: you're simple folk, living in a hill-country village some 6 miles south of the capital city. Your village has a population of barely one hundred people and you all know each other exceptionally well. You work together, play together, share together. Some are family, some are close friends, some you don't like very much. But you and your families have lived in close proximity together for a lifetime.

There's nothing special about your village; it's unassuming and poor. But you do have one notable feature that is renowned across history: King David, the great king of your land, was born here 1000 years ago. Your humble community has a famed royal heritage. And then some shepherds from the hills appeared one night a couple of years ago to visit a newborn child during the census, claiming him to be King David's awaited descendant, THE King of the Jews that your nation have been waiting for: is he really the answer to your prayers and a fulfilment of the words of the prophets? He just seems a normal child, born to parents from elsewhere but who have stayed with relatives for the duration of his early years. And now strange astrologers from Persia have just arrived and announced exactly the same. You talk to the couple, you let your children play with this little boy. They're just another family. How can this be?

It's a question all of us may struggle to know how we may have answered had we been around then. But the fact is that at the time of Christ's birth "...all Jerusalem..." was troubled along with the despot Herod. The whole city had taken notice, but how many then chose to look away? How many truly allowed the facts to change something internally? Consider also how many folk 30 years later were also faced with the adult Jesus' ministry, example, miracles, death (when the temple's curtain was torn in two, an earthquake shook the city and dead bodies came to life) AND by His resurrection - over 500 eyewitnesses could not deny that particular fact.

This coming Christmas, some people will again ignore the truth and choose to look the other way. But there will also be locals (shepherds), people from different backgrounds (Persians), and many more who will sit up and take notice. We are His eyewitnesses. We are called to point the way.

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