HAVE YOU SUBMITTED? The “extras” of the Christmas tale, the shepherds, the magi and Simeon

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I recently reviewed Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games. For me, the most exciting part of this blockbuster movie was… Steve. Right in the middle of this epic cinematic masterpiece was Steve, my dear friend from college. He is now a very successful ophthalmologist in Atlanta where they filmed Catching Fire and he was cast as an extra in the film.

Have you ever wondered about the “extras” God chose to be part of the greatest story ever told?

First, there were shepherds – (Luke 1: 8-20).

We would expect important world leaders, such as kings, queens and emperors to be on the happiest birth guest list in human history. But shepherds? Why them?

The shepherds were generally poor, smelly, outcasts with a bad reputation. According to an ancient Jewish law document, a shepherd couldn’t even testify in court because his word was considered unreliable.

Yet on this holy night, God invited this delegation of people to be the very first to see, worship and celebrate the good news of Christ’s birth.

Not only were these simple shepherds chosen to be extras in God’s epic story, but they also had the privilege of witnessing the most elaborate angelic heavenly spectacle the world has ever seen in recorded history.

It all started with one angel with the first comforting message from heaven after the birth of Christ: “Do not be afraid!

This angel then brought the shepherds the glorious news that in Bethlehem the promised Messiah had been born. Then suddenly the sky exploded with joy, light, worship, glory and a symphony of angels praising God and saying: “Glory be to God in the highest heavens, and on earth peace to men. on which rests its favor. (Luke 1: 25-26)

The Greek word used for “multitude” or “a great enterprise” means that the number of angels was incalculable.

What a spectacle these shepherds had the privilege of seeing when they arrived in Bethlehem. That baby that couldn’t even speak yet is the one who brought creation to birth. A young woman holding her creator. God entered our world like a baby.

Then there were the wise men.

“When they saw the star, they rejoiced. Coming home, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. So they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of ‘gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they returned to their land by another road. ”(Matthew 1: 10-12)

Ancient historians tell us that in the regions of Persia and Arabia, the Magi were well known for their love of astrology, witchcraft, fortune telling, and magic. In fact, we get our word “magic” from the

Greek word translates magi.

Why would God have chosen these guys to be extras in his great story? Why would God mobilize a star to invite these foreign and pagan star worshipers to the birth of His Son? These men were totally foreigners – by race, religion, nationality and profession.

The fact that God invited these exotic visitors suggests that Christ was much more than a Jewish Messiah. It is a profound reminder that all are invited to Jesus. God desires that every person, of every race, language, origin, and nation, to come to and be saved by Jesus Christ. In other words, the Magi were looking for Jesus because God was looking for them first.

And then there was a man named Simeon (Luke 2: 22-40).

Max Lucado writes the following about Simeon. “Some people don’t want to die before they see the world. Simeon’s dream was not so timid. He didn’t want to die until he saw the Creator of the world.

What do all these “extras” have in common? Some were poor, some were rich, some were Jewish, some were foreign, some were

human, some were angels. The only thing they had in common was that they all wanted to see and worship the King of Kings. For the shepherds, it was not enough to see the angels, they wanted to see who was sending the angels. For the wise, it was not enough to see the star of Bethlehem, they wanted to see the light of the

World. The beautiful thing about the Christmas story is this: Anyone who wants to see Jesus is invited. Everyone is welcome. No one is refused. No one is rejected from approaching Him.

John 3:16 says it this way: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have

eternal life.

Russ Whitten is a local minister, writer and musician. His band, The Bonhoeffers, perform weekly at the Village Door. His book Have you ever wondered? is available on Amazon.com.

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