Sunday Morning 12-2-2012

Posted by Sherry


Gold, Frankincense and Much More
Matthew 2:1-12 
CBC 12/2/2012 SM

INTRO: Wise Men can recognize a King without a crown.
“Tidying up” the facts about the Wise Men & Christmas:
---No, there weren’t three of them...that comes from a wrong legend that has been added to over the years.
---No, they weren’t kings...advisors to kings, yes...regal, rich, upper class, yes, but not kings.
---No, they weren’t from the Orient....again, it might fit well into song lyrics, but it doesn’t fit the facts of the case.
---And no, they didn’t show up at the manger...they came to the house where Mary and Joseph had started staying some time after Jesus’ birth...despite the many Christmas programs we’ve seen with them making a grand entry coupled with the shepherds and other nativity characters.
<>Courageous travelers, absolutely...in fact their true wisdom is shown in their actions and their gifts.
<>And they are also great teachers...we can learn a lot from them even today.
TEXT:
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men [astrologers] from the east came to Jerusalem, asking,
2 Where is He Who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east [a]at its rising and have come to worship Him.(A)
3 When Herod the king heard this, he was disturbed and troubled, and the whole of Jerusalem with him.
4 So he called together all the chief priests and learned men (scribes) of the people and [b]anxiously asked them where the Christ was to be born.
5 They replied to him, In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
6 And you Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, you are not in any way least or insignificant among the [c]chief cities of Judah; for from you shall come a Ruler ([d]Leader) Who will govern and [e]shepherd My people Israel.(B)
7 Then Herod sent for the wise men [astrologers] secretly, and [f]accurately to the last point ascertained from them the time of the appearing of the star [that is, [g]how long the star had made itself visible since its rising in the east].
8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, Go and search for the Child carefully and diligently, and when you have found [h]Him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship Him.
9 When they had listened to the king, they went their way, and behold, the star which had been seen in the east [i]in its rising went before them until it came and stood over the place where the young Child was.
10 When they saw the star, they were thrilled with ecstatic joy.
11 And on going into the house, they saw the Child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then opening their treasure bags, they presented to Him gifts—gold and frankincense and myrrh.
12 And [j]receiving an answer to their asking, they were divinely instructed and warned in a dream not to go back to Herod; so they departed to their own country by a different way.

--ILL>A few days before Christmas two ladies stood looking into a department store window at the large display of a manger scene with clay figures of baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, shepherds, wise men and animals. Disgusted, one lady said to the other, “Look at that! The church is trying to horn in on Christmas!”

<>Well, the place to look for the real meaning and lessons of Christmas is not in department stores, on on-line shopping networks. 
--The place to look is in the Bible.
--And there are many lessons we can learn from the story of the wise men...the magi...and their trip to and from Bethlehem.

<>THEY ARE ROLE MODELS IN THEIR ACTIONS...

1) THEY NOTICED WHEN GOD SPOKE.
----Matthew 2:2 -- “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east...”

->God got their attention where their interests were...
He sent them a “private message” in the skies, among the stars.
---They were “magi,” known to have been astrologers as well as philosophers and advisers to kings.
---They were constantly charting the stars, watching the skies, so God got their attention in the middle of where their attention was.

->They recognized the message as being something important, important enough to personally “check out” its meaning.
***(HAVE YOU?)***

->Even with the distractions around them, the distance they were from Jerusalem, etc., they noticed and listened to God speaking to them.

--<>APP>This Christmas season we need to not let the “noise” of the trimmings keep us from giving God our full attention.

2) THEY DID THEIR HOMEWORK.
----Matthew 2:2 -- “Where is He who was born King of the Jews?”...

->They examined the Hebrew Scriptures and believed the “sign” in the skies was speaking of the long-promised King who would be born to the Jews.
---They weren’t Jews, but they invested their time and effort into reading and examining the Scriptures.

->They planned their trip and brought sufficient provisions, with sufficient security, etc., for such a lengthy trip.

--<>APP>We need to re-read the Christmas story in Scripture, re-examine it, because it’s there that we’ll discover and learn to appreciate the meaning of Christmas.
-----It’s not in store catalogs, on E-bay, not even in family gatherings or traditions.

3) THEY CONTINUED TO LET GOD GUIDE THEM.
----Matthew 2:9-10 -- “After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”

->They followed the star...knew they were heading to the land of Canaan, but they let God guide them day by day and night by night.
---It’s significant that God led them by night...it was much safer traveling at night with all the treasure they were carrying.
---And it means they probably slept in the daytime.

--<>APP>You see, “Pursuing Christmas” is just that...a pursuit...a continual, day-by-day pursuit in obedience and surrender.

4) THEY CAME TO JESUS.
----Matthew 2:11 -- “and they came into the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother.

->They left the palaces of whatever kings they were serving at the time...and made their way to meet the newborn king.

->They knew the proper way to show respect for a king was to come in person and present themselves to him.

--<>APP>Likewise, the gift that God deserves from us, and wants from us...is US. 
---------He wants us to present OURSELVES to Him.

5) THEY BOWED BEFORE HIM.
----Matthew 2:11 -- “...and they fell down...”

->The showed the kind of respect due a king...they acknowledged His authority and importance.

->They humbled themselves before Him.

--<>APP>He might look like a baby in a manger, but He is ALMIGHTY GOD...and we should bow before Him.

6) THEY WORSHIPED HIM.
----Matthew 2:11 -- “---and worshiped Him...”

->Humbling themselves, bowing down before kings was the usual way of showing respect.

->However, this time they went beyond the normal...they didn’t just kneel down, they worshiped Him.

->They recognized He wasn’t merely a human being...they were worshiping Jesus as He really is...GOD in the flesh.

--<>APP>This Christmas we need to heed the invitation of the Christmas carol: “O come, let us adore Him.”

7) THEY GAVE OF THEIR TREASURES.
----Matthew 2:11 -- “...opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.”

->They gave sacrificially.
---These weren’t left-over gifts...they weren’t re-gifting them.
---These were gifts of great value.

->And they recognized that giving is a part of genuine worship.

---ILL> “Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas?”: “No, but then it’s not my birthday!”

--<>APP>It’s HIS birthday we’re celebrating...we ought to give Him at least as costly a gift as we give anyone else.

8) THEY WENT AWAY DIFFERENTLY THAN HOW THEY ARRIVED.
----Matthew 2:12 -- “And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their own country by another way.”

Spiritual Explanation: ( as did the Leper, Mary Magdalene, Demoniac of the Gadarines & every true born again Christian...)

->The “practical” explanation is that they went back in a way they would not be killed by Herod.

-> the symbolic proclamation is found in the Jewish tradition of going home through a different gate in Jerusalem than whichever one a person came through when arriving to worship at the Temple.
---It was to signify that they had already and truly worshiped.

->The fact that Matthew records the fact that the Magi went home a different way was not lost on the Jewish readers of the Gospel he was writing to.

--<>APP>The true way to celebrate Christmas, to worship Christ, is to let Him bring change in your life, a fresh awareness of His love for you, and to allow Him to work His perfect will within you and through you.

BRINGING IT HOME...

-<>This Christmas we need to be wise men and wise women, wise followers and true worshippers of Jesus.

--->Listening for God to speak to us...amid all the hubbub and noise of the holiday, be listening for what God wants to say to us.

--->Bringing our worship to Jesus and only to Jesus.
-----After all, that’s what Christmas really means...the mass (worship) of Christ. 
-----Not worshiping tradition...not side-tracked by the tinsel and trappings associated with the holiday.

--->Bowing before Him, humbling ourselves and “extending our efforts,” being willing to give Him of our time and efforts.

--->Adjusting our activity to His will.
------He might not ask us to travel for several months and put our lives at risk....but what if He did?
------Would you be willing...as the wise men were?

--->Giving to Him gifts of value.
------It’s HIS birthday we’re celebrating.
------We ought to give Him at least as costly a gift as we give anyone else!
------We ought also to give of our time to benefit others, and give our priority to being present when He’s being worshiped.

--->And letting people see the change He as brought into our lives.

-<>We need to go out differently this Christmas than how the rest of the world goes out.
------We need to be truly known as worshipers of Jesus at Christ-mass.

-<>In pursuing Christmas this year, remember: WISE MEN STILL SEEK HIM.

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