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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Knowing God: Part 3

K nowing God Part 3: How well do you know God? In the beginning of this series, I confessed that (in spite of the fact that I've been a Christian for over 20 years) I still don't feel like I know God very well. It troubles me. I'd like to know Him as I do my family members or best friends. But He's different, so I guess I'd like to know Him as well as a person can know Him...if that makes any sense. So, I'm setting out to know God better. I'm starting with the book of Matthew. I have no idea where I'll stop.

Official Disclaimer: I don't claim to be a theological guru. I haven't graduated seminary. I'm not a pastor. I'm doing this series of posts just because I want to know God better. I'm sharing it online, not to teach others--though I'd be pretty happy if God used this to help others get to know Him better also. I'm not doing this to argue--though, if people have related ideas to share, I'm all ears. I'm simply posting this to explore and maybe encourage others to explore. If you are a young reader, run everything by your parents. They are your spiritual authority. See what they think. And, as the Bible tells us: If on some point, we disagree, pray about it, and may God give us clarity.

Matthew 2:1-12*

2:1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem 1  in Judea, in the time 2  of King Herod, 3  wise men 4  from the East came to Jerusalem 5  2:2 saying, “Where is the one who is born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose 6  and have come to worship him.” 2:3 When King Herod 7  heard this he was alarmed, and all Jerusalem with him. 2:4 After assembling all the chief priests and experts in the law, 8  he asked them where the Christ 9  was to be born. 2:5 In Bethlehem of Judea,” they said, “for it is written this way by the prophet:
2:6And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are in no way least among the rulers of Judah,
for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.
2:7 Then Herod 11  privately summoned the wise men and determined from them when the star had appeared. 2:8 He 12  sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and look carefully for the child. When you find him, inform me so that I can go and worship him as well.” 2:9 After listening to the king they left, and once again 13  the star they saw when it rose 14  led them until it stopped above the place where the child was. 2:10 When they saw the star they shouted joyfully. 15  2:11 As they came into the house and saw the child with Mary his mother, they bowed down 16  and worshiped him. They opened their treasure boxes and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, 17  and myrrh. 18  2:12 After being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, 19  they went back by another route to their own country.

Initial Take: This is just my knee-jerk reaction to the text. Whatever pops into my mind. Heaven help me.  

More than anything else, the thing that sticks out the most about Jesus in this passage is that his arrival shook the world. Herod could have snapped his fingers and had whole cities put to death. He had major power, but the moment he hears of this "King of the Jews," he becomes alarmed. But notice it's not just Herod, but all Jerusalem with him. I'm guessing that means the people in power since the Israelites we hoping the Christ (ie: the Messiah) would come. So Herod and the power establishment in Jerusalem are shaking in their collective booties over the Christ's arrival. Jesus shook the world.

But not only were folks freaking out, but there were some who were willing to travel huge distances to find Jesus. Why? Because they wanted to worship and adore Him. The wise men from the east came, and they brought gifts. The good stuff too. Not that cheap stuff from Walmart. These wise men were rich (another form of power), but when they found Jesus, they went down on their knees and worshiped him.

Knowing God Take-Away: What do I learn about God from Matt 2:1-12? 1) God is a threat to those who want to rule independently from God. When King Herod heard that the foretold King of the Jews, the Messiah, had been born, he became alarmed. Why? He didn't want anyone ANYONE to have authority over him. He wanted to rule his way, with his power, and his goals. But he knew that Jesus would create instant problems. The Jews would have their promised leader. And anyone who could make a star move around could probably knock a lard-butt king off his corrupted throne. 

It's the same today. There are a lot of people out there who refuse to recognize God because they don't want anyone to have authority over them. If I believe God, then I'll have to live differently. All these evil things that I like to do will have to go away. And I don't want that. So, God can't be real. And lest we point hasty fingers at atheists and naturalists, we'd better check ourselves. Christians need to be very careful. We need to make sure that we aren't making God in our image, sanctioning our lifestyles because we like them, not because God said it was okay. The Christian church does not need any more hypocrites...and that begins with me.

2) The next thing I notice about God is that He is worthy of worship. A lot of times around Christmas, when we think about the wise men, we focus on the gifts they gave to Jesus: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. I know those three gifts are very symbolic. But what gets me with this fresh read is not that they gave expensive gifts, but that they worshiped a child. Many adults today basically scrape children off the bottom of their shoes. But these guys bowed down before Jesus. And their worship didn't start when they arrived. It began long before...when they were researching the Messiah. Where would he be born? What would the signs be? Their worship continued when they left their homes and went on a LONG journey to go find Jesus. That must have been a serious HIKE. And on camels no less. But Jesus is worth it. He's worth the time. He's worth the trouble. He's worth our possessions too. The next time I'm feeling burned out from writing and writing and writing; the next time I feel frustrated that I'm spending so much of "my" time writing, I hope I'll remember just how worth it Jesus is.

Til next time.

Never alone.

*All Scriptures from the NET Bible:!bible/Matthew+1


Gabe M said...

So true.
Great points, great observations.
Great post. :)

Sir Guy said...

Mr. Batson,

Thank you so, so very much for doing this. It has been very encouraging to me, but more importantly, convicting. I feel like "Okay, I've got my Life Time Member's card, I'm good now!" In one sense, I know that I'm saved, who my Savior is, and that my salvation is assured and that's good. But for being a Christian all my life, I'm ashamed of how very little I've cared for God and His word. Even at times being repulsed by God and the things of God!

I've cherished the pleasure of my idols far more than the love of a bleeding Savior. Even with your post, I, on the one hand, really enjoy your take-ways and evaluations. But on the other, I don't want to read them, trying to think of something "better" I should do instead.

Well, long story short, I hope you don't mind if I hang on your coat-tails as you try Knowing God. Because I could really get to know him better to for my own sake. May God only humble my heart to hear his Word that surrounds me.

As you say Mr. Batson... Never Alone.

WayneThomasBatson said...

Thanks, Gabe! And SoN, man very encouraged by your honest self evaluation here. Tough to go there. Thing is, it's not like we can ever fool God, nor should we want to even try. We end up fooling ourselves and robbing ourselves of the kind of life we could be living. Hang on the coat-tails as much as you like, but make it the hem of Jesus' cloak. I'm there too, clutching and holding on. Lord, if you want to, you can make us whole. Amen.

Hannah Rebekah said...

I really like what you're doing here. I think far too many people don't understand God for who He is, they see Him as being what works best for them.

Since October, my pastor has been going through a series about the gospel, starting with who God is. He gave a sermon that really struck me and turned on several light bulbs in my head about the nature of God. I wrote a post about it on my own blog, hoping He would use me to connect some light bulbs in other peoples' heads. If you're interested, the link is

Jordan said...

Very true. I especially like the comment about making sure we check ourselves. Are we letting God make us in His image or are we making Him into ours? Thank you.

Sir Guy said...

Amen to that. I'll be seeing you on the hem of His cloak. =)

You know, the way you broke down that part of the Christmas Story kind of shows itself like a parable of the new Christian and of what you've were talking about and.

When Jesus is first brought into our life, as he was in Bethlehem, it brings to life our souls. Our souls, like the Magi, go to every extreme to try and honor and praise the true King. But the old law of the flesh, like King Herod, tries to every extreme to snuff out any threat to his rule, especially anything to do with God.

Sir Guy (formerly SoN)

Chris Rasmus said...

I just stumbled onto this from one of my bookmarked links and wasn't planning on commenting. But what you said about not feeling like you know God caught my attention having been a Christian myself for 24 years (i.e., been there, done that!) I'd like to offer my take...

I think what really helped me feel like I was finally starting to know God was the gospel of John. I realize you're only in Matthew, but bear with me. Heh. Maybe it'll serve as what to be on the lookout for when reading through the other three gospels.

Anyway John tells us that in the beginning there was God and there was God's Word. Since God spoke everything into existence this makes sense. Then John tells us God's Word became flesh and dwelt among us (Jesus). Then we get to chapter 14. I think the key to everything Jesus says is remembering WHAT he is: the Word of God made flesh. The Word. Consider John 14:6...

The Word is the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by the Word.

To borrow Hannah Rebekah's expression, once this light bulb clicked it was awesome.

And then we get to John 14:15 and 14:21, and 23-24. More light bulbs!

I think I've come to realize that if I want to truly know God all I need to do is know his Word, accept his Word, and then do his Word. The more of God's Word I know, accept, and put into practice in my life (i.e., not just knowing God's commandments but KEEPING them!) the closer I get to God.

I hope this isn't in any way a derailment of your train of thought, starting in Matthew and I'm looking all the way ahead to John, but I think it's pertinent. I've deliberately left out discussion on the "commandments" since that could easily take up another blog in and of itself. The most important thing was realizing, whenever I think about Jesus, he *IS* the Word of God. Everything that ever came out of God's "mouth"...that's Jesus.

I'm going to go back and read parts 1 and 2. I really appreciate the time you're taking to share your thoughts on scripture with us.

Take care.

Megan said...

I'm glad you're doing this, and it's an awesome lesson. Thanks for the reminder to check myself. I sure can't throw the first stone.