“Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him.” 

Ephesians 4:18 (NLT)

You probably know the Christmas story better than most. You’ve likely preached it many times.

It’s familiar to you.

But it may not inspire or amaze you anymore.

You’re not alone.

During the very first Christmas, there was a group of people—spiritual and religious leaders in Jerusalem—who were a lot like you.

They knew the Scriptures. They understood the prophecies.

Yet despite everything they knew, these leaders missed the birth of Jesus because of their familiarity with the Scriptures.

You’ll notice in the Christmas story that when the Son of God was born, not a single religious person was invited. The people who should have known the most about the birth of Jesus didn’t have a clue.

But the wise men, who had studied the Hebrew Scriptures, came from the East because they had seen the star. They knew the Savior of the world had been born—they just didn’t know where.

When the wise men asked King Herod of Israel, he had no idea. But Herod’s religious advisers knew exactly what the wise men were asking. They’d been waiting for Jesus to come for hundreds of years. They had discussed it, debated it, and dissected it.

But unlike the wise men, they didn’t even want to check out the claim. Because over time, they started paying more attention to traditions than waiting for the Messiah.

That sounds familiar, doesn’t it? We have so many Christian traditions. And as ministry leaders, we lead our churches in many of these traditions—whether they’re Christmas concerts or candlelight services.

But even though many of our traditions are important, we must make sure we don’t miss the real reason for the season.

None of those traditions will make a real, lasting difference in our lives and in the lives of those we lead. But a relationship with Jesus will make a difference.

Don’t let your familiarity with the story this Christmas get in the way of what matters most.