After Jesus was born, and while Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were still in Bethlehem, the Magi came from the East searching for the young child. They stopped in Jerusalem asking, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him.” (Matthew 2:2)
“When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied.” (Matthew 2:3-5) And they quoted the text from the prophet Micah 5:2.
This situation has haunted me. The chief priests and teachers of the law knew exactly where the Messiah would be born. Now, these prominent Magi come announcing His birth and “all Jerusalem was troubled” about this news. Why were they troubled, agitated, disturbed about the news of the birth of the Messiah? They had been waiting for centuries for the coming Messiah. And why didn’t any of the chief priests and teachers of the law go to Bethlehem to see the child for themselves?
From the rest of the Gospels, I think we get the answer to this dilemma. Despite the fact that Israel was under Roman rule, they had become complacent in their comfort. “Don’t rock the boat. The Romans will take away our land if we acknowledge the presence of the Messiah.” Jesus, the true Messiah, the Christ, did not fit their worldview or their lifestyle.
I fear that many of us are not much different today. After Jesus died, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, the next monumental, world-shattering event will be His return. As His followers, we long for His coming. We stay alert and maintain a life of readiness… or do we?
When Paul wrote his letter to the Thessalonians, they were new followers of Jesus and were already enduring severe persecution. Yet, they were not only mimicking Paul’s example in following Jesus but had become an example to the other churches.
What’s clear from Paul’s letter to the church in Thessalonica is the fact that proclaiming the coming of Jesus is a core element in preaching the Gospel. Paul talked about Jesus’ return in all five chapters of that letter in ways that indicate these new followers already knew about and looked forward to Christ’s return. In chapter 5, we read:
“Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-6)
But like the chief priests and teachers of the law at the time of Jesus’ birth, many Christians today are caught up in the “peace and safety” of a complacent life saying, “Don’t rock the boat. Christians have been talking about Jesus’ return for 2,000 years. Where is the promise of His coming? Everything is the same today as it was back then.” (That is a paraphrase of 2 Peter 3:3-4.)
A.W. Tozer declared, “Focusing on the Blessed Hope, the return of our Lord Jesus Christ, is the greatest discipline of the Christian life.”
No president, political system, vaccine, or anything else this world has to offer can provide the hope, peace, and joy we long for and will experience in the coming and presence of Jesus. Being convinced of His soon return compels us to tell others about Jesus—both His first and second coming.
God doesn’t want to punish anyone for their sins, so He sent His only Son to die in our place. And He has enlisted us to tell others about His great love for them through His Son Jesus.
Let’s stay alert and live a life of readiness in anticipation of Jesus’ soon return. So many things happening today point to His soon coming. We need to tell others about Jesus! What if you knew Jesus was coming back tomorrow?