Saturday, December 13, 2014
Christmas raises the question, "Who's in control here?"
"A woman wrote me a letter from Ohio. She said her parakeet could say, 'And that's the way it is!' (mimicking the daily closing words of famed CBS news anchorman Walter Cronkite). We went there right away, of course. As soon as she opened the door, the parakeet said, 'And that's the way it is!' While we set up the lights and camera there in the living room, the parakeet watched us from inside his cage and said, 'And that's the way it is!' We pointed the lens at the cage and started rolling. The parakeet looked at the camera and said:
"The parakeet's owner said, 'And that's the way it is!' to give him a cue.
"The parakeet said, 'Aaaaawk!'
"'And that's the way it is!' she said patiently.
"He said, 'Aaaaawk!'
"After an hour or two of this we packed up, promising to return some other time. We said goodbye to the disappointed woman who wanted to see her parakeet on Walter Cronkite's news program. We closed the front door and started down the walk to the driveway, carrying our camera and lights. Behind us in the living room, we heard the parakeet say:
"'And that's the way it is!'"
This story highlights the fact that we cannot always control our circumstances. We can control a lot about our lives, but not everything. Yet, who's in control is something that plagues us because we either insist on being in control ourselves, or we're concerned about the affects in our lives when someone else is in control.
That was just one significant issue raised by the birth of Jesus. The people living in Jerusalem had settled into accepting that Caesar was in control, and because of that, King Herod was in control of the local region under the auspices of Rome. Suddenly breaking that comfortable position were some dignitaries from the east arriving in the city asking about a newborn king ...
"Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 'Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him'," Matthew 2:1-2.
This news from the magi shattered the peace in Jerusalem ...
"King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem," Matthew 2:3.
The birth of a new king of the Jews would certainly directly impact Herod, who had the job at the time. But it would also impact all those ruled over, and so we read that not only was King Herod disturbed by such a proposition, but "... as was everyone else in Jerusalem."
The new question the birth of Christ had created was, "Who's in control here?"
Was it Caesar? Was it Herod? Was there some new threat to either of those thrones?
Yes, but not in the way people were thinking at the time.
The question of "Who's in charge here?" so disturbed King Herod that he "... sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men's report of the star's first appearance," (Mt. 2:16).
The question of "Who's in charge here?" would eventually disturbed the religious leaders in Jerusalem so much that they would insist on Jesus being put to death.
The birth of Christ does, indeed, raise the question, "Who's in control here?" It would be through the Child born in Bethlehem that every human being would have to settle the question of who's in charge. Jesus would live, die a sacrificial death, and be raised from the dead to ransom us from sin and death. The sovereign rule of God would destroy once and for all the stranglehold of sin in our lives and set us free to serve the King of kings, Jesus Christ.
Christmas raises the question, "Who's in charge here?" What's your answer? Has the baby born in Bethlehem long ago, who has become King of kings and Lord of lords, also become the sovereign ruler of your life? Or do you find losing control a disturbing idea?