It is supremely fitting that every man should approach the infant Jesus upon his knees.
“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11)
In Bethlehem, the Church of the Nativity originally built by the Christian Emperor Constantine during the fourth century is located above a cave that legend holds is the place of Christ’s birth. It’s impossible to know whether the spot truly is where the Virgin Mary delivered the Son of God. Nevertheless, one interesting fact about the Church is that all pilgrims who venture to see the supposed place where the holy child was laid in a manger must first enter through The Door of Humility.
The Door of Humility is a small rectangular entrance that was created during Ottoman times to prevent carts from being driven in by looters, and to force even the most prominent of visitors to dismount from their horses before entering. Famed Bible commentator William Barclay once noted of the door: “There is something beautiful in the symbolism that the church where the cave is has a door so low that all must stoop to enter.”
Few virtues of life could be more necessary than humility. The prophet Micah said that it is an essential requirement of God: “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). Jesus referred to humility when he said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).
God despises the proud look, the haughty spirit. It smacks of self-sufficiency and usually precedes an embarrassing fall into shame. Just before destruction fell upon the proud and arrogant King Belshazzar, the successor to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, Daniel, the prophet proclaimed: “But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart…” (Daniel 5:22).
For the last few years, Americans have been blasted over and again with media accounts of public officials and even religious figures who abused their positions for money, sex, and power. Every Christmas season we hear the same buffoonery about Nativity scenes being a violation of the separation of Church and state. Cities have refused to allow for public Nativity displays. Public schools have forbidden Christmas religious themes and decorations, revised old Christmas hymns and replaced the words with secular phrases. Retailers have substituted the Merry Christmas greeting with Happy Holidays. Christmas trees have been renamed Holiday trees.
I read recently about a high-school coach in New Jersey being told by his superiors that because he was a state employee he wasn’t allowed to even bow his head in reverence to a student-initiated prayer with his team before a game. This week Maine became the fifth state to allow gay marriage. All of this flies in the face of sacred scripture and mens refusal to humbly bow before it. This week Russian president Putin signed the bill banning Americans from adopting any more Russian children. How sad to think that we would even have to go to Russia or China to adopt children when we abort American 4000 babies every day. I tremble to think of the future consequences of such colossal national sins.
At the moment, America is troubled within by a fiscal cliff that could financially cripple even our grandchildren. We are troubled without by terrorists and a Middle East situation that could plunge world peace back into the dark shadows of despair. Not to forget the nonstop grinding mills of abortion and natural disasters. Could it be that with our own haughty spirit we are weaving the web that will entangle us all? The apostle James reminds us: “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
Do not fall for the haughty thinking that a council of Wiseman working with the United Nations can usher in some sort of peaceful-paradise; that one has been tried and found wanting again and again going way back to the time of the Tower of Babel. Haughtiness that leaves God out of its thinking cannot save itself let alone anyone else. Christmas reminds us that God does step into history and impose either His gentle mercy or His firm justice.
In 1847, a doctor from Edinburgh, Sir James Simpson discovered that chloroform could be used as an anesthetic to render people insensible to the pain of surgery. Some have claimed that his was one of the most significant discoveries of modern medicine. Years after his findings, while lecturing at the University of Edinburgh, Dr. Simpson was asked by a student, “What do you consider the most valuable discovery of your lifetime?” To the surprise of his students, who expected him to refer to chloroform, Dr. Simpson replied: “My most valuable discovery was when I discovered myself a sinner and that Jesus Christ was my Savior.”
Throughout the centuries, America has had some unprecedented achievements in human history. The greatest thing about America, however, has not been what the nation has accomplished, but instead what God in his grace has done for the nation.
The arrogance of man is usually to take the credit for it all himself. Such chest-thumbing doesn’t go well with God who said; “When you think you stand take heed lest you fall.” “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Christmas is a reminder to all nations, tongues and tribes how God humbled Himself before men to save us from our sins, and how like the Wiseman ought to humble ourselves before Him and worship Him.
Wisemen Still Worship Him.
He’s Only a Prayer Away!