The magi or wise men are a beautiful part of the Christmas story even though they probably didn’t visit Jesus until a couple of years after his birth. We usually include them in the celebration of Jesus’ birth because it is one of the few times early in his life, that he was recognized and honored for who he was, not only to the people of Israel but to the whole world. The gifts these men brought, the effort of their trip, and the deference they gave to Jesus were worthy of a great king. Their role points not only to a Christmas theme but one that is a pillar of Christianity itself – submission.
Submission is a dirty word in our culture and typically considered a sign of weakness. It’s something we typically push back on as none of us want to give up our control. As Americans, we take pride in fighting for our rights and our freedoms. Some of our common idioms reflect this – “You’re not the boss of me!” “Nobody’s going to tell me what to do!” “I did it my way.” But this sentiment isn’t isolated to current day America.
When the magi approached King Herod for directions, he was shocked at the threat to his throne and went to terrible lengths to protect it, having all the boys in the area under two years of age slaughtered. That tableau usually doesn’t make it onto Christmas cards.
The challenge to authority is as old as our greatest enemy, Lucifer, whose desire to rule caused his downfall. Consequently, convincing us that we’d be better off running our own lives is one of his most effective ploys in tempting us to destruction.
As crazy as it seems, submission is one of the most powerful tools for true success in our lives. Christ used it as one of the defining characters of a disciple (Luke 9:23). It is based on the recognition that God is sovereign and we are not. Submission, surrendering to the authority of another is difficult, it’s unnatural to our fallen condition, and it takes true humility. But it is grease to the gears of the church, the family, the government, and every area of our lives.
Look at the following passages that represent areas in which we are to submit:
To God – “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
To Scripture – “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Joshua 1:8
To Church Leaders – “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work.” 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 (see also Hebrews 13:17)
Wives to husbands – “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:22
Children to parents – “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise).” Ephesians 6:1-2
Servants to masters – “Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” Colossians 3:22-23
To Government Officials – “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.” 1 Peter 2:13-14
Despite our arguments as to the worthiness of those in authority over us, our submission is ultimately to God. Submission to Him through our obedience is one of the best gifts we can give Him this Christmas season, a gift worthy of a King.
- From these examples, which is the hardest for you to submit to?
- Take some time to pray through the area of submission and surrender.
Jon Price, Associate Pastor