Volume. XXVIII, No. 29
Sunday, 19 January 2014


The Wise Men and The Birth of Jesus - Part 4 (Final)


This edited message was delivered on Christmas Day 2013.These are the last two of the five indisputable facts in Matthew 2: 1-12.

4. Jesus causes difficulty to those who do not want to worship Him

 

Matthew describes two types of people who do not want to worship Jesus, the Christ.

 

A. The first type of people are those who do nothing for our Lord Jesus.

 

This group, in Matthew’s Gospel, is represented by the chief priests and scribes. Verses 4, 5 - “And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,” Herod demanded that the chief priests and scribes tell him where Jesus was to be born. He ordered them to search the Scriptures. They obligingly did their duty. They searched the scriptures and they told him what he wanted. What happened after that? Did these chief priests and scribes go and look for the infant Jesus? Did they go to confirm what the wise men were talking about? Did they look for that special star that the wise men saw? The answer is NO to each question. There was silence. They just went back to their usual duties. They were indifferent to what they had heard from the wise men. They were indifferent to what they had found in the scriptures. They, being knowledgeable with and having access to God’s Word, should have gone with the wise men to look for the child Jesus! Why did they not go to search the child Jesus with the wise men? The answer is simple. They were not interested. They were distracted by the cares of their world. They did not want to worship the true God. They did not want to worship God who had come in the flesh.

 

B. The second type of people who do not want to worship our Lord Jesus are those who are threatened by Him.

 

When king Herod heard from the wise men, “he was troubled.(3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.”)

 

Herod was insecure and worried. He was fearful of losing his throne. The magi were very important and powerful leaders themselves, from Parthia. They probably came to Jerusalem with a large entourage and were able to gain access to Herod’s court. At this time Parthia was also threatening the eastern boundaries of the Roman Empire. Herod was paranoid that the Parthians might overthrow him and give their support to a new Jewish king. He was not only paranoid but cruel as well. The Jewish historian, “Josephus, stated that Herod was so concerned that no one would mourn his death, that he commanded a large group of distinguished men to come to Jericho, and he gave an order that they should be killed at the time of his death so that the displays of grief that he craved would take place. Fortunately for them, Herod's son Archilaus and sister Salome did not carry out this wish.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herod_the_Great)

 

Not only was he troubled but “all Jerusalem with him,” because there was a rumour going around in the streets of Jerusalem that the Messiah was born. To the people in Jerusalem that could suggest troubled times of political instability, and possible wars ahead. Herod was so afraid and lustful for power that he schemed, lied and committed mass murder to get rid of the child Jesus. Matthew 2:16 “Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.” Herod was very angry that the wise men did not come back to him. Even if the wise men had returned to Herod, the infant Jesus was still not safe. Herod had already planned to get rid of the child Jesus anyway. Read Matthew 2:12 -13 “And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.” The angel told the wise men not to return to Herod in a dream, and Joseph was also asked by God to “take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt” for refuge.

 

C. Even today, there are two groups of people who oppose our Lord Jesus and His people: the indifferent and the hostile.

 

Which group are you in? Ponder very carefully on this Christmas Day and consider your relationship to Christ Jesus. Are you indifferent? If not, it is time for you to come forward to be more active in His service. If you have hostility whenever you hear the Gospel you are an enemy of God and Our Lord Jesus! You need to be saved. If you want to go to heaven you need Jesus!

 

5.          Worshipping Jesus attributes authority and dignity to Him with sacrificial gifts

 

Matthew described how the wise men came and worshipped our Lord Jesus.

 

Verse 11

 

A. Firstly, the wise men called our Lord Jesus, even as an infant,  “King of the Jews” in verse 2.

 

This means the wise men ascribed royalty, authority and dignity to our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

B. Secondly, the wise men demonstrated their humility and reverence to the infant Jesus.

 

Verse 11 “And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him:

 

Note the words “house” and “young child” in this verse. In Luke 2:7 the Virgin Mary delivered “her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger.” As a newborn, Jesus was laid in a feeding trough for cattle, “because there was no room for them in the inn.” That means, Joseph and Mary, and the newborn Jesus were staying in a place where animals were usually kept. In Matthew 2:11 the wise men came “into the house” which means that the family had found a proper lodging place to live in. There was no manger now. Matthew reveals that Jesus was now “the young child.” This would have been many months since Jesus’ birth, possibly almost two years. This is supported by Matthew 2: 16 “Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.” Herod would be most unlikely to slaughter children up to 2 years old if the birth of Jesus had been a very recent event.

 

By falling down before this young child, the wise men humbled themselves and showed their respect before the infant Jesus. They went down on their knees and bowed their heads to the ground. They were showing that the child Jesus was of “high status” and they were of “low status.”

 

C. Thirdly, the wise men were full of joy!

 

Verse 10When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” Notice that “they rejoiced with exceeding great joy” even before they saw the child Jesus! Just to see the star stationary over the place where the young child Jesus was caused them exceeding great joy. This joy was indescribable, unimaginable!

 

D. Fourthly, and finally, the wise men brought gifts.

 

What did they bring? Verse 11, “they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” Their gifts were expensive.

 

Tradition has it that there is a deeper meaning for each of the three gifts presented to the infant Jesus.

 

Why gold? Gold is a precious metal and as such was a very valuable commodity. Before the use of paper money or fiat currency, in ancient times, Gold was considered as money and a store of wealth. Gold is a symbol of divinity and is mentioned throughout the Bible. The gift of gold to the child Christ was symbolic of His divinity – God in the flesh – and His Kingship.


What about frankincense? The gift of frankincense was symbolic of Christ's willingness to become a sacrifice, wholly giving Himself up, comparable to a burnt offering. Thus this represents His priestly role.

 

What about myrrh? Myrrh symbolises bitterness, suffering, and affliction. The child Jesus would grow to suffer greatly as a man and would pay the ultimate price when He gave His life on the cross for all who would believe in Him. Thus this is a prefiguring of His coming death and embalming.

 

E. The wise men gave us examples to follow.

 

When we worship God we must ascribe to Him authority and dignity. We must also worship Him in humility and giving Him the respect or reverence due to Him. When we worship we must worship Him with great exceeding joy.

 

The wise men presented expensive gifts to the infant Jesus when they worshipped Him. How about us? Have we ever given God expensive gifts? Have we given our tithes, which is 10% of our earnings in the offering bags? Have we given to God the best or the left-overs? These are things which we should be pondering. For God who saves us through the sacrifice of His Son deserves our sacrifice as well. God deserves better from us!

 

Conclusion

 

We should take and learn important lessons from the wise men. These Gentile wise men declared that our Lord Jesus is the Messiah and the King of the Jews, and that He should be worshipped by both Jews and Gentiles. God is sovereign and He controls all things. It is His will and His decree that the whole world is to know His Son and worship Him. The Name of our Lord Jesus and His first coming evoked opposition from people who did not want Him and did not want to worship Him. This is still happening today. By worshipping our Lord Jesus, like the wise men, we attribute to Him royalty, authority, power and dignity by giving Him sacrificial gifts in our tithes and offerings. Let us all, on this Christmas Day, make a commitment to study His Word, to obey His commandments, to love one another and to serve Him with our whole mind, body and soul. Let us pass the true meaning of Christmas to our children and their children. If we honour God, our Heavenly Father, His Only-Begotten Son and The Holy Spirit, He will honour us, and He will “shew” us “great and mighty things” which we know not of! (Jeremiah 33:3)

 

For those who are not believers, I appeal to you to receive Christ Jesus in your heart because He is the way, the truth, and the life. By believing in Jesus, you will be assured of going to heaven.  Do not delay because if you happen to die today it will be too late. Once you pass the gate of death there is no return! Do not ever think that you control your own destiny. God does. Amen.

 

Elder Michael D Lee


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

*Kitchen Roster Leader: Today: Bro Boong Atijatuporn. Next Lord’s Day: Dn Colin Gan.

*Hope Bookstore: Open today: 12:30 - 1:45 pm. Good Bibles (English & Mandarin) available.

*Sanctuary Flowers Roster: Volunteers still needed. There are still many dates available.

*Church activities  - AFG commences this Sat. Adult Sunday School on 9 Feb. Joy NBS group starts on Sat, 15 Feb.

*Drivers needed to help with transporting worshippers to and back from church on Sundays.

*Golden Thoughts Calendars available FREE on the literature table. Please take one.

*Next week’s fellowship lunch is catered.

*Bro Ming Shen Lim will be leaving us soon for further medical training in Newcastle.

 

Praise & Thanksgiving

1. Journey mercies: Rev Edward & Mrs Lehia Paauwe (S’pore); Bro Joseph Selvanayagam (USA); Bro Phil & Sis Iris Surman; Sis Mary Ting & family (Adl); & others who have arrived safely at their destinations. 

2. Church activities in past week.

3. God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.

4. Visitors & new worshippers.

5. Good health & coping with heat wave in past week, & Cool change.

 

Prayer Items

1. Health & God’s healing - Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Pastor Okman & Sis Myung Ki; Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe; Rev George van Buuren; Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Bro Colin & Sis Kathleen Creaser; Bro Len & Sis Margaret Pearson; Preacher Zhang (Sihanoukville); Bros Surish Dharmalingam (Laos), Elton Law & Kang Fun Tan (Sis Felicia’s father - S’pore); Sisters Lai Kheng Chiong (KL), Margaret Hooper, Grace Gan’s father (healing), Choon Fong Lee (KL), Ruth Ngoma, Corinne Teng, Susan Varadi & Sis Mavis Wong’s mother (salvation & healing); Mr Swee Liang Ng; Mr Mang Soo Ong; Bro Peng Cheong Wong (Dn Wai Kin Wong’s father); Mrs Maggie D’Mello; Mr Tony Zhang; & others in affliction.

2. Special Prayer: Bro Sis Nita Chong’s cousin (Mr Seck Aik Foo - salvation & healing) & Sis Iris Surman’s brother (healing).

3. God’s comfort & strength: Sis Julie Tan & family, & relatives; Mrs Helen Jenkins & family.

4. iSketch & Tell Studio, YouTube Ministry: Pr Hai Seng Lim.

5. Cambodia Missions - Rev David Koo & Ministry; Life University (Sihanoukville) - students to receive Christ.

6. Laos Missions - Bro Surish Dharmalingam, family & Ministry.

7. New Life BPC (London) - God’s encouragement & guidance; Congregation to remain stedfast in the faith; Rev Colin Wong’s visa application.

8. Ministry in Hope BPC - God’s guidance for future - Preacher David & Sis Susan Weng. 

9. Journey mercies: Rev Edward & Mrs Lehia Paauwe (Penang/Adl); Bro Joseph Selvanayagam (Adl); Sisters Xandrea Cai, Yvone Kam & Buey Yeo (S’pore); & others travelling.

10. Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.

11. Job - Bro Jonathan Liao (Syd); Sisters Yashu Qin (Adl) & Sharon Ying (Per); & others looking for  stable jobs.

12. Health in pregnancy: Sisters Kerrie Lam & Tabitha Tan.

13. Final weeks of pregnancy: Sis Monica Tan - safe delivery & health.

14. Hopefuls away in different countries: safety, health & protection.

15. Recovery & strength: Sis Susan Weng; Development & health: Caleb Weng.

16. Bro Ming Shen Lim - further medical training in Newcastle. God’s guidance to a Bible-believing church & in his spiritual life.

 

 

© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063