Mary! Guess Who’s Coming for Christmas?
One of my favorite Christmas passages is from Luke 14. Nope, this isn’t a typo, and I didn’t intend to say Luke 2.
“When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Yes, this appears to be a rather strange text to share at Christmas. I doubt you have ever heard it read at one of your family or church Christmas gatherings. And you’re right; it doesn’t refer directly to the Nativity. Humor me a bit.
My reading of Jesus’s birth narratives suggests that some rather out-of-the-ordinary guests have been invited to celebrate the birth of Jesus Messiah. Not surprisingly, God the Father sent the birth announcements. Luke tells us that nearby shepherds watching their flocks received a live invitation—from an angelic band: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Shepherds were not on most people’s “must invite” list. Nope!
Though they often get a bad rap for being somewhat shady characters, that is unlikely since the overall biblical view of shepherds and shepherding is quite favorable. After all, Jesus is the good, great, and chief shepherd. What is true about shepherds is that they came from the lower class of society, representing the poor and the humble. Thus, they came bearing no gifts but the excitement of being invited and the wonder of the moment in their hearts and minds.
At the same time, Wisemen were invited. Again, this was no ordinary invitation! A unique star became visible to these ancient astronomers/astrologers in the East. They believed it to be a sign that a king had been born over the nation to which the star appeared to hover. We know precious little about who these Magi were or where they came from. Attempts to link them to the lineage of wisemen and astrologers associated with Daniel in Nebuchadnezzar’s court are only speculative.
It’s best to see them as Matthew did: pagan Gentile stargazers from the eastern part of the empire who were drawn by God’s unique invitation to come, see, and worship the One who would be no ordinary king, but the Savior for all the world—including Gentiles like them. Even the wealthy, cultured, and noble bowed the knee to the infant Jesus and showered Him with fabulous gifts.
Soooo, that’s it! That’s who God invited to greet His newborn Son. No immediate family, no relatives, no friends, no neighbors—just some anomalous guests the Father knew and cared about. They represent sinners throughout time from one spectrum of society to the other—sinners who need to be introduced to His Son.
They were carefully selected guests that apparently God thought we should be thinking and talking about as we celebrate Christmas for a long, long time. Oh, and yes, like Father like Son. Jesus came to earth in the likeness of sinful flesh where he lived among sinners, received sinners, ate with sinners, was called the friend of sinners, and ended up giving His life for sinners. And lest we overlook what’s most important; He saved, is saving, and will save sinners—and such am I! And such are you!
Thank God He still invites us all to come, see, believe, and worship His Son, the Messiah, the Savior of the World, the coming King.
So, now that you have humored me, if God sent out invitations from your house to some guests to join your Christmas dinner, who might He invite?