They were strangers in town.  That was obvious from their dress and manner.  If Jerusalem was at all surprised to see them, they themselves were quite surprised at what they found.  For in Jerusalem, there were no parades, no celebrations, no banners, and no feasts.  It was business as usual.  They began to ask, "Where is he that is born?"

        "Why, there are babies born everyday in Jerusalem.  Which one do you mean?"

        "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?"

        "What?  A baby born in Herods household?  Not likely.  And a luckless fellow if he is.  Already Herod has killed two of his sons to protect his power.  I've heard nothing lately of a baby in Herod's house, but maybe you should go to him personally."

        In the august presence of the Roman puppet governor, they repeat their question.  "Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him."

        Herod is stunned.  A rival for the throne?  His advisors suggest that it is perhaps the Messiah.  "Where is the Messiah to be born?" asks Herod.  He summons the chief priest--calls a cabinet meeting.  Rumors soon race through the little capital. "The Messiah has been born," some said.  "There is one who claims to be king," said others.

        Meanwhile, back at the palace, Herod has learned a little Scripture.  For the first time, he reads the prophet Micah, "And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, art not the least among the princes of Judah: for out of thee shall come a Governor What?  ...Out of thee shall come a Governor that shall rule my people Israel."

        Summoning again the visitors, Herod told them Bethlehem was the place and inquired as to the precise time the star appeared.  The Wise-men went to Bethlehem, and Herod went to work to secure his position.  After days of worry and nights without sleep, he decided to kill every baby in Bethlehem.

        "But what if it is the real Messiah?" his advisors asked.  "You would be fighting against God!"  Herod silenced them with a look, ordered his troops on their way, and went muttering to his chambers, "No one is going to take away my throne... not even God."

        "Where is He that is born?"  The Wise-men asked it reverently.  Herod asked it murderously.  Many today ask it cynically.  For myself, I ask it of you inquiringly.

        Where is He that is born?  Such a question points us to the missing Christ.

        Jesus was not in Jerusalem when the Wise-men came.  You expect to find a king in the capital.  That's logical.  How strange it seemed to them that He was not there.

        He is still a missing person at Christmas.  A school teacher was supervising the construction of a nativity scene.  The little family was placed in the stable and Jesus in the manger, with the Wise-men on one side and the shepherds on the other. One little boy asked, "What I'd like to know is, where does God fit in?"  Ahh!  I look at a secular Christmas and cry, "What I'd like to know is, where does God fit in?"

        The drunken revelry, the office party where people cannot remember what they did the night before, the illicit adventures, the wild greed, the mad scramble to buy the bargains, the hurt feelings because a card was not sent--I look at it all and ask, "Where does God fit in?"

        A little boy had been to Sunday school and was overheard to say on his way home, "Wait till I get home and tell my folks Jesus was born on Christmas.  Boy, will they be surprised!"

        He is missing in our celebration, missing in our songs, missing on our gift list, missing in our homes, and sometimes even missing in our churches!

        That's hard to imagine.  You would as readily expect to find Christ in a church as the Wise-men expected to find Him at Jerusalem.  And sometimes He is not there.  The root is this: He is missing in our hearts.

        We must make room for Him.  As we never find time for anything, but only make time, so we can never find room for Him.  We must make room.

        A merchant remarked once to his minister, "What a job! I've got to rid this store of Christmas in one day!"

        "My job is harder," said the minister.  "I've got to keep Christmas in the people's hearts for a lifetime."

        Jesus was not in Jerusalem, where the Wise-men expected to find Him.  He was in Bethlehem, where they did not expect to find Him.  Who, after all, would expect to find a king in a village--a tiny obscure little farming village?  And who would expect to find a king so poor he had no proper bed, or roof, or home?  Rootless and homeless, vagrants stood by His cradle.

        For that matter, who would expect the Messiah in the form of a baby?  The Messiah might be expected to come as a shining warrior, to come as a crowned king, to come as an angel of light, or to come on wings of cloud and sunlight.  But to come as a little crying, burping baby?  He is truly the unexpected Christ--always.

        You would not have expected to find Him in the temple at twelve, discussing the fine points of the Bible with experts. You would not have expected to find Him at little Nazareth doing a carpenters work until He was thirty.  When He began His ministry, you would not have expected Him to have set up His headquarters in Capernaum.  In Rome perhaps, or Athens, or Alexandria in Egypt, and if in Palestine at all, surely in Jerusalem, but in Capernaum?  Not even in its more prestigious neighbor-town Tiberias, but Capernaum.  That little border village, that customs post, that outpost of empire and nation.

        You would not expect to find Him dining in the home of a leper, nor going to be the guest of a publican, nor stopping to talk with a strange and sinful woman by a public well.  Always--always--He is the Christ of the unexpected.

        Still one finds Him in unexpected places--not among the mighty, but the lowly.  If He is sometimes absent from great cathedrals, you will find Him always on skid row, and on the wrong side of the tracks, and among the slums and open sewers of the world.  You will find Him among Indias poor and Africas starving.

            In haunts of wretchedness and need,
            On shadowed thresholds dark with fears,
            From paths where hide the lures of greed,
            We catch the vision of Thy tears.
            Where cross the crowded ways of life,
            Where sound the cries of race and clan,
            Above the noise of selfish strife
            We hear Thy voice, O Son of Man.

                                            --Frank Mason North

        Still, still He is the Christ of the unexpected.  If you want a humdrum business-as-usual life, don't be a Christian.  Faith offers more excitement, more adventure, more that is new and grand than anything else.

        The Mellon Hospital in Haiti was not just built by a wealthy scion of the Mellon family.  That man went to medical school at an age when many would think it too late.  Now he is personally in Haiti, healing with his hands as well as with his fortune and proving again that Jesus is the Christ of the unexpected.

        His grace, His forgiveness, His patience with us, His love-- all these are unexpected--and undeserved.

        He always will be the Christ of the unexpected.  He is coming again.  Some people have His itinerary all worked out for Him, and they know His timetable.  But the Bible says that once again, He will be the Christ of the unexpected.

        He is also the inescapable Christ.  Where is He?  Everywhere.  Ever present.

        How can I say that He is missing and say that He is ever present?  The answer is plain.  When I speak of the missing Christ, I am really talking about the unrecognized Christ, the unacknowledged Christ, the unworshiped Christ.

        He is at all those Christmas parties where liquor flows like water and people do things of which they would ordinarily be ashamed.  He sees.  He is present in the board rooms and offices when greed dominates every thought.  He sees.  He is present in those homes where the only thought is to please the kiddies and somehow pay the bills.  He sees.  He is present in those hearts where envy and jealous strife and anger rise over some imagined slight.  He sees.  He is present in those churches that have passed Him by in disbelief--or else have crowded Him out by their Madison Avenue machinery.  He sees.

        "All things are naked and open before Him with whom we have to do."  And "the whole earth is full of His glory."  "The heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee."  "The world itself could not contain the books."

        You cant keep Him out of Christmas.  You cant keep Him out of society.  You can't keep Him out of business.  You can't keep Him out of government.  You can't keep Him out of world politics.  And you can't keep Him out of your life.

Mister X
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Do You Hear What I Hear?

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