A Christmas Gift Without Limits
by Sherri Bergmann
Many are under the illusion that Satan is almost as powerful as God and is given a free license to do evil without limitations. The Christmas story, told in Luke and Matthew, defines Satan’s limitations.
A GRAND INVITATION
Luke 2:8-12 gives the grand visual of an angel personally giving a shining invitation to surprised shepherds in a field – an invitation to visit the God incarnate who was just born.
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
The shepherds were given specific details for how to find Jesus: the name of the town and the dwelling — not in an Inn, or at a noble person’s home, but in a manger.
Joseph and Mary placed their baby in a manger because it was what they could find. With every place full – no vacancy – due to a packed town during the ordered Census, they used a manger, an open crate or trough for horses or cattle to eat from. With this unique info, the shepherds were able to find the baby the angels spoke of.
The Magi, however, received the invitation in a very different way. Their notice was a star hovering over Bethlehem that fit the description in the prophecies of the Messiah’s birth. Excited, they travelled to see the long-anticipated King.
However, it appeared when they reached their destination, they lost sight of the star. Perplexed, they asked around earnestly enough that their inquiry reached Herod.
The drama unfolds in Matthew 2:1-8:
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 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.
This happened after Jesus was moved from the manger to a home.
A LIMITED SATAN
These two powerful scenes from Luke and Matthew demonstrate how the shepherds and the Magi were led to Jesus. But, Satan was left out of the invitations to the shepherds and the Magi. Satan didn’t have a clue where Christ was, only God’s insiders did.
God is Omniscient – knowing everything. He is Omnipresent – present everywhere at the same time. He is Omnipotent – has unlimited power. In contrast, Satan is the absence of God. Satan doesn’t know everything. Satan isn’t able to be present everywhere. Satan does not have limitless power.
However, when Satan found out about Christ’s arrival, hell broke loose. God warned the Magi in a dream not to let King Herod know where Jesus was, so they avoided Herod and returned home. He also sent an Angel to warn Joseph to take the child and mother to Egypt because Herod wanted the child killed. Satan was not aware of their escapes.
When Herod found out the Magi disregarded his request, he became enraged and ordered his soldiers to kill every boy two years old and younger because he didn’t know which would be Jesus. He was determined to remain King until his death. Satan wanted Jesus dead.
Satan has a track record of trying to mess up God’s plans. Trying, but failing. God’s purposes prevail.
A LIMITLESS OFFER
Satan can’t stop God’s plans. He couldn’t stop the birth of God’s son on that first Christmas day. And he cannot stop you from receiving the ultimate Christmas gift – Christ and His wondrous love.
The Magi looked to the stars for answers. When it seems like Satan is in control in this world, look to the One who made the stars.