Six Ways to Miss Christmas – Prideful Indifference

from John MacArthur’s booklet, Six Ways to Miss Christmas.

Prideful Indifference

Once Herod learned from the wise men that a child would be born who would be King of the Jews, he gathered “together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, [and] began to inquire of them where the Christ was to be born. And they said to him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it has been written by the prophet, “And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a Ruler, who will shepherd My people Israel”‘” (Matthew 2:4-6). Herod called in the experts.

The chief priests consisted of the high priest, the captain of the Temple police, and the best of the other priests—those who had great administrative, teaching, and leadership skills. For the most part the chief priests were Sadducees. The scribes were primarily Pharisees. They were the linguists and interpreters who understood the culture and history of the biblical data. Those two groups knew where the Messiah was to be born because they knew Micah had prophesied that ” Bethlehem was to be His place of birth (5:2). One thing the Jewish nation had been looking for, and still does to this day, was the Messiah. They had been waiting for a deliverer throughout their history, especially while under Roman oppression. However, these priests and scribes were unwilling to travel the few miles to find out if this baby might be the Messiah.

Why did they miss Christmas? Indifference. They didn’t care. They had all the facts, but they didn’t need a Messiah. Why? Because they were self-righteous—they saw themselves as perfect keepers of the law. In their minds they were all God could ever ask of them. You could say they were filled with proud indifference because indifference is always a result of pride. There was no room for the Son of God in their system. When the grown child arrived on the scene, they hated and despised Him. So they plotted His murder and screamed for His blood.

Jesus pinpointed their indifference in a stinging rebuke from Matthew 9. “I happened that as He was reclining at [the] table in the house, behold many tax-gatherers and sinners came and joined Jesus and His disciples” (v. 10). Jesus sat down to this meal with people who needed His help: outcasts, tax collectors, traitors, and sinners. “When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with the tax-gatherers and sinners?’ But when He heard this, He said, ‘It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are ill. But go and learn what this means, “I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,” for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners'” (vv. 11-13). When the Pharisees held a feast, they invited self-righteous people. When Jesus held a feast, He welcomed those who knew they were sinners and were desperately aware of their need for a Savior.

Many people today miss Christmas because they don’t realize they are sinners. Thus they ignore Christ. They don’t show any interest in the Savior because they don’t understand their need to be saved. They don’t understand that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)—that sin plummets people into an eternal hell. Consequently they ignore the remedy because they don’t even know they have the disease.