Matthew 2:1-12 — I Like My Jesus As the Lead Singer of An Angel Band Singing Lynyrd Skynyrd Lyrics…How We Fashion Jesus To Meet Our Needs

Posted: August 24, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 2:1-12 — There is a movie from about a decade ago that is one of my guilty pleasures called Talledega Nights. In that movie there is a scene when Ricky Bobby’s wife gets tired of him praying about baby Jesus all the time. She said, “He did grow up you know!” But Ricky says, “I like baby Jesus the best!” One of the other characters in that scene says, “I like my Jesus coming down with eagles wings, and singin’ lead vocals for Lynyrd Skynyrd with like an angel band.”  I think that these sentiments expressed in one of the oddest dinner scenes in all of movie history though intended to just be silly does have pointed commentary on the way we treat Jesus today. And we have history on our side in that effort. Throughout the centuries, man has tried to make Jesus fit their needs. Just look back at the birth of Jesus.

Isn’t it amazing, when you think on this story, that it was foreigners from a foreign land that recognized the significance of what the star in the sky over Bethlehem meant while it was God’s chosen people who did not recognize who Jesus was. Think about it. The magi were academic types, well versed in the physical sciences and in philosophy. They were advisors to a king of a nation that worshiped idols to a false god. Yet, it was there knowledge of Jewish scripture and of the movements of the stars in the sky that led them to believe that the Jewish scriptures had been fulfilled – a king was to be born in Bethlehem. On the other hand, King Herod, ruler over Judea from 37BC to 4BC, was such a selfish man, he only saw this talk of a prophesied baby king as a threat to his rule, his power, his way of life. None of God’s people recognized that Jesus was the Messiah. The Jews wanted a warrior Messiah. They did not want a humbly born baby Messiah nor what He grew up to be. Don’t you find amazing parallels in today’s world because we lack knowledge of Scripture.

The magi knew that something of great significance was happening because they were well-versed in the Old Testament Scriptures. They knew the prophecies. It was they who understood what was going on. However, what was supposed to be God’s chosen people could not see the Messiah because He did not match their expectations. There expectations were, well, honestly not in line with Scripture. Are we not the same today? Do we not often make Jesus out to be what we want Him to be because it suits our needs. The Jews of the first century wanted a Jesus that would appear on the horizon one day that was, excuse my language, but a bad-ass Rambo kind of Messiah. They wanted their Messiah to be a Rambo like character who would single-handedly led a rebellion to overthrow the Roman occupying force. They wanted a warrior who would run the Romans out of Palestine and re-establish the Isrealite kingdom that had known such glory under David and Solomon. They had completely forgotten Scripture or twisted the words of Scripture to mean what they wanted it to mean. They wanted their plan and not necessarily God’s plan. They have suffered under first, Assyrian and Babylonian rule, then the Greeks under Alexander the Great and his successors, and then finally now the Romans. They wanted political freedom. They wanted freedom from foreign rule and excessive taxation. They wanted a warrior Messiah. They kind of had forgotten about the whole suffering servant prophecies who would redeem the hearts and souls of His people. That Messiah did not fit their agenda.

When you really think about this, it is not really all that different today is it? Today, we may think the opposite of Jesus. We do not want Him to be a warrior king to throw off our shackles of oppression as the Jews did, but, in effect, we are the same as first century Jews. We make Jesus into what we want Him to be also. In his article shared at, entitled “Was Jesus Always Nice?”, John MacArthur says,

“Modern writers, agnostic academics and liberal theologians always stress the kindness and gentleness of Christ. Their Jesus—not the One found in Scripture, but the one concocted from their own imaginations and preferences—is effectively an ideological and theological pacifist. He preached only love and self-sacrifice, never judged or discriminated, and wasn’t dogmatic about the truth. In effect, the Jesus they’ve manufactured pleads, “Can’t we all just get along?” with people of all faiths.”

Because of lack of Scriptural knowledge, we want to make Jesus into this peace-loving beatnik, flower-child from the 1960’s. We want Jesus to be “peace-love-dove” that doesn’t care what you do and forgives it all. We do not know Scripture so this Jesus sells. There is no judgment in Jesus in today’s world. Certainly, yes, Jesus was compassionate. And, yes, He died for the forgiveness of our sins. But, He had great disdain for those who twisted God’s Word to their advantage. He had great disdain for those who acted piously but yet ignored God’s commands. He was not at all peace-love-dove when it came to the Pharisees. He laid the wood to them. This is definitely different from the anything-goes-Jesus-just-wants-me-to-be-happy Jesus of today. Jesus stood for the truth of God’s Word and would not relent from it. He said that not one iota of Scripture would pass away. God’s truth never changes and Jesus called people out on it! He would do the same thing if He was here today. He will do the same thing when He returns. He will say to some go away from me for I never knew you. We must understand Scripture so that we do not get swept away by those who twist Scripture to justify their behaviors or twist Scripture to align the church with the culture of the times. Jesus is the righteous judge not the hippy-dippy anything goes Jesus that soothes popular culture in the 21st century.

Often we ignore Scripture like King Herod today. Herod ignored Scripture because it was inconvenient to him. He was a sadistic, paranoid ruler who killed his sons and at least one of his wives to maintain his power and control of his throne. We often ignore Scripture when its convenient for us too. We rationalize away our behavior as this part of my life I get to keep for myself. Instead of twisting Scripture to make it say what we want it to say, we just plain out ignore it. Herod did it. So do we. The newborn baby Jesus was a threat to Herod’s lifestyle so he wanted to make Jesus go away. He murdered the baby boys in Bethlehem in that attempt. How often do we ignore Scripture in the process of getting what we want. How often do we rationalize way unrepentant practice of sinful behavior by politely ignoring those parts of the Bible. How often do we walk away from Scripture altogether and say there is no God just so we can live our lives the way we want to and hold on to those sins that we want to hold on to. How often do we ridicule the church because we are afraid of the truth of the Bible. Saying or acting like the Bible does not exist as the one source for the eternal truth of God that never changes does not mean that it is not that. Ignoring God’s eternal truth does not make it any less true and any less eternal. Standing in the middle of the interstate and saying that there are no cars will not make the cars go away. You will get hit!

The irony of the birth story of Jesus Christ was that it was the foreigners that knew Scripture better than God’s chosen people that recognized that the Messiah had been born in Bethlehem. The Jews were too busy making Jesus into who they wanted Him to be. The Jews were too busy figuring out how inconvenient Jesus was to their lifestyle and expectations. Are we not the same today? Let us be a people who understands Scripture thoroughly and is discerning about that which is not of God through that understanding. Help us not be be swayed by the culturalization of Jesus. Help us not to twist Jesus into what we want Him to be. Help us to not ignore the truth about Him. Help us not to ignore God’s eternal truths as revealed in Scripture. Help us to read it, learn it and know it and especially live out its truths. Help us to have the discernment to recognize the Messiah for who He is and what our relationship is to him. Amen and amen.


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