We are in the midst of Advent. I was teaching a class of young students one day during the week. We happened to be talking about the Wise Men and the Shepherds.
I went to the internet and found out what it said about shepherds. One of the places I explored, said it was the lowest job you could have even 2000 years ago! It stated they were isolated, could be lonely and the food was poor and lacking nutrition. Not a job for your everyday family man. It was not a well-paid job from what I could gather.
The Wise Men, on the other hand, had a different story to tell. They were called the distinguished foreigners. Some thought of them as astrologers and interpreters. One site called them influential and rich. They were willing to travel over 1,000 miles to worship this newborn king according to one of the documentaries I read. It was said they were probably pretty well educated.
The shepherds were visited by the angels. Can you imagine what the scene must have been like? These lonely, isolated men are out and about in the country with sheep. It was night and all is quiet. Then all of a sudden the sky lights up brightly and there is an angel. She is talking to them; telling them not to be afraid. I am sure there was a look of fright and amazement on their faces. Then suddenly there is a host of others singing and telling about this newborn king; this baby they would find, wrapped in swaddling clothes. They had to check it out. They had to know for sure.
The Wise Men have a completely different story. They are not visited by angels. The night sky is not all lit up, but they do notice something different. There is a star in the sky they have not seen before. It was noted that some unusual movement or stellar event of great magnitude was often thought to herald the birth of a King or someone great personage. An event occurred in the sky and they went looking (www.crosswalk.com). For whatever reason, they knew they needed to follow the star. Along the way, they stop and pick up gifts unless of course, they had them with them. We have been told these items were pretty costly items. So these gentlemen had to have money in order to purchase such gifts to give the newborn babe and his family.
There are a lot of differences in these two stories. So why did Christ choose these two groups of people to tell the Christmas story? For me, it is a pretty simple answer. One group represents those who are less fortunate and sometimes have trouble making ends meet. The other group represents those who are considered wealthy. Still don’t get it? Basically, God says it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor. God wants you to come and worship Him no matter your circumstances. It’s about your heart, not your pocketbook.
I am reminded of the widow who gave a mite to Christ. She couldn’t afford much, but she gave all she had. Then we come to a rich man from Arimathea, who was a disciple of Christ. He asked for the body of Christ so he could give it a proper burial. We see both the rich and poor giving what they could. They both were servants of Christ. God accepted both without regards to material status. He looked at the heart of the matter.
The shepherds and the wise men point the way to the Christ Child. The Christ child accepts all who come to him. Proverbs 22:2 says it best, “The rich and the poor have this in common: The Lord made them both.” Because he made them both, he loves them just the same. When we get to Heaven, what we have or don’t have on earth will be left behind. Our monetary status won’t matter to God and it shouldn’t matter now.
When we come together on Sunday morning, I look around and see doctors, lawyers, businessmen, and women. I see those with all kinds of degrees and well-educated. Right beside them, sits those who are working class folks with no degrees and little savings and trying to make it every day in this world. The other thing I see, is people coming to worship and truly loving God and wanting to make a difference in this world. It’s not about your pocketbook it’s about your heart.
The Shepherds, the Three Kings (Magi) and the baby Jesus all come together to tell a beautiful story. That story is for each of us, no matter who we are or where we come from. The shepherds heard from the Angels, the Wise Men saw a star; both different scenarios, but the one thing they have in common: they knew they must find this baby Jesus. Their lives would forever be changed. So will ours if we just listen to the angels or follow the star and find the Christ child.
It’s not about what you have or don’t you have; it’s about your heart. Come and worship the King!
Dear God: Thank you for looking at my heart and not my pocketbook. Sometimes I am like the widow who can only give a mite; other times I am like the wise men who bring expensive gifts. All the time, I am the drummer boy who has nothing to offer but myself. No matter, you love me and accept me just as I am. Help others to find the star, or hear the Angels and come in search of the One who will change their lives forever. Remind me, it’s about what lies in the heart. It’s a heart matter. Thank you for sending your Son so my life would be changed.