"Who is it?" responded a gruff voice behind the door. The answer came back, "I am your king. May I come in?" Thinking it was a cruel joke, the man refused to open the door. Respecting the rights of a man in his own home, the king would not insist on the door being opened, so he turned and left. The poor man missed seeing his king.
This is the tragedy of Christmas. The King visited, but nobody realized. Life went on as normal in the poverty of Bethlehem the night when Christ was born.
At first glance it seems remarkable that a king was born and nobody noticed. But if we read the gospel stories carefully, it seems that the most remarkable thing is not that nobody noticed but that anybody noticed! God went to great lengths to wrap the ultimate Christmas gift in ways that left it impossible for anybody to guess what the present was. The only people who recognized that a king had been born were those who were given special revelation. It really took a huge divine intervention for anybody to get it.
Consider the shepherds. It took a mass choir of hundreds, if not thousands of angels, singing at the top of their lungs (if angels have lungs) in the middle of the night to catch their attention. And as if to emphasize the stupor of the general populace, the rest of Bethlehem slept through the whole thing. In the stillness of a dark Bethlehem night with no street lights to dull the brilliance of the angelic light against the night sky and with no freeway traffic to muffle the music, the celestial choir and light show should have roused the inhabitants of Jerusalem only six miles away. But nobody saw or heard a thing.
And they still don't. Eyes blinded by the god of this world cannot see the king. But the miracle of Christmas is not only that the Son of God is born, but that the Spirit of God is active again after centuries of silence. As the Christmas lights come on in the late afternoon dusk, may that same Spirit illuminate the encroaching darkness of our culture with the revelation of the one born to be king. Do you see what I see? May we, with Simeon, be able to say, "My eyes have seen..."
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon... And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ... And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, ...he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 'Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace... for my eyes have seen your salvation... a light for revelation to the Gentiles.' (Luke 2:25-32)