“When Herod realized he had been fooled by the Magi, he was furious.”-Matthew 2:16
One of the most prolific Christmas pieces of music ever written was named “Handel’s Messiah” written in 1742 by George Handel. What you don’t know, is on the brink of bankruptcy, Händel completed the work in 24 days with 260 pages written. When he finished writing what would become known as the Hallelujah Chorus, he said, "I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God himself."
In His grace, God used Händel to prepare people to see the majesty of God in a way they had never heard or seen before. On the brink of debt,the first lines he penned were “Comfort ye my people.” Comfort! What Handel needed at the time was money, but instead got something more. As anyone that has had to pay debt can relate, it’s not always the best thing for someone to say “cheer up” when you have kids to feed. Yet the Lord did precisely that with Handel! It was an unlikely moment, that turned Handel's life around.
Our text features similar themes. Jesus has been born, and like a Greek tragedy, death is looming for the young Messiah. “When you find the child, report to me”, King Herod had told the foriegn Magi in Mathew 2:8, not knowing that Herod had plans to kill the Redeemer. According to tradition, the author of Matthew was well versed in Jewish tradition and the scriptures. He would not have been a stranger to Yahweh saving the day in the Old Testament through various characters who weren't always Jewish. Our text, unlikely it may be, does not reveal God sending fire, a Jewish prophet standing alone (Jeremiah), or a Jewish boy (David) slaying a Giant, but God helping Gentiles outsmart the Jewish King of the time. Here is the point. The message of Advent/Christmas is this: salvation is not up to you. Handel needed money, Jesus needed saving, you may need something that no one else knows about. What’s worse, you have no idea how the world can go on if you don’t get what you need! When Herod moved in for the kill, the prevenient (assisting) grace of God helped non Jewish people like the Magi decide not to return to Herod. When Handel needed money, the Lord provided a song of majesty that proved all along how royal Handel’s life is in Christ. When your holidays are once again not going according to plan, fear not!! It's not always up to you. You aren’t the only card on the table for the Kingdom. Keep waiting for the right deal to come. God dealt a baby and astronomers as the winning hand to enable His salvation plan to survive. Has there ever been a better dealer?
John Thomas is a Pastor at Carroll Springs UMC