The babe in the manger must be accepted as ruleror confronted as rival.

“On come, let us adore him,” we sing enthusiastically. We identify ourselves with the worshiping Magi. Carols stir us. Holy words inspire us. The golden glow from the manger warms us. A little religion at Christmas is fine. But that glow in the manger comes from the Light of the world. It exposes evil and either redeems it or destroys it. The babe in the manger is far more than an object for sentimental sighs. He is the Son of God who must be accepted as ruler—or confronted as rival. King Herod, whom the Magi consulted on their way to worship, did not interfere with the Magi’s religious concerns. Normal, self-centered people don’t mind a little religion. But Herod would not submit to the new King’s rule. Instead, he slaughtered all the babies of Bethlehem. The Magi and King Herod agreed on one thing: They took Christ’s claims seriously.

We face the same crucial decision this Christmas. No matter what the cost to our wealth, beliefs, and status, we can join the Magi in unhesitant worship. Or we can, in the depths of our souls, resist his claims like Herod did. Matthew records only these two reactions to the news of the Messiah’s coming—joyful adoration or violent opposition. The baby in the manger confronts us with a hard choice.

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