So Near Yet so Far

“He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet’” Matthew 2:4, 5

“If only I had known …” This is not an uncommon statement that we make. It comes out of a measure of sorrow that we have just missed something important solely out of ignorance. But what if we had known and still missed the opportunity?

As a bus driver there were many occasions that people were running late and literally running to catch the bus. They knew the place and time the bus would come but were running late. If possible to safely do so I waited for them but there were some occasions when it just was not possible.

Observation and Jesus teach me that there are many who know the time and place to receive Jesus Christ but they miss Him just as one misses a bus. They know the “Christmas story,” they know about Jesus coming but they do not seek Him out.

When asked by the “Wise Men” where the King of the Jews was to be born, Herod consulted the chief priests and scribes. They knew the Scriptures and promptly quoted the prophet Micah who had written that He would be born in Bethlehem. Bethlehem was not far from Jerusalem where this question was posed.

Since Israel was in an expectant mode concerning the appearing of their Messiah one would have expected that those in the know would have been in Bethlehem waiting. One can only conclude that they did not really believe what Micah had written or they didn’t really care. They may not have believed but King Herod certainly demonstrated that he believed by conducting a most horrific act against toddlers and babies.

The scribes and chief priests knew where their King would be born but they did not act on that knowledge and seek Him. They were so near yet they missed His arrival.

Jesus tells us that many will miss out on entrance to His kingdom for the same reason. Matthew records Jesus’ words, “Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’” (7:22). These are people who knew about Jesus because they claimed to be teaching His words, acting under His authority and doing miracles by His power. Jesus says for all that they have no relationship with Him. They were so near and yet so far.

It is so sad that many will sing carols and hear the Christmas story this week and yet they will miss the King just as one misses a bus. This doesn’t need to be the case. Knowing the Christmas story and knowing the Christ in Christmas are two very different things. Inclusion or exclusion from His kingdom has to do with a personal relationship with Jesus and not just knowledge about Him.

Jesus is not far off. Turn and He is there waiting patiently and lovingly for you. He will wait but He will not wait forever. Christmas is truly a joyous time for those who did seek and find Him.

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