What The Wise Men Teach Us About Christmas Matthew 2:1-12 (NKJV) Matthew 2:1-12 (NKJV)

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1 Message for THE LORD'S DAY MORNING, December 24, 2017 Christian Hope Church of Christ, Plymouth, North Carolina by Reggie A. Braziel, Minister (Christmas Sermon) TOPIC: Christmas, Special Day Message, Giving What The Wise Men Teach Us About Christmas Matthew 2:1-12 (NKJV) Please open your Bibles to the Gospel of Matthew chapter two. And let's read verses Matthew 2:1-12 (NKJV) 1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him. 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 So they said to him, In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: 6 But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel. 7 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also. 9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.

2 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way. ********************* Introduction One of our favorite Christmas carols we sing each year is We Three Kings. That song, of course, is about the Wise Men's journey to find the Christ-child. For many centuries, legends and myths have sprung up about these mysterious travelers from the east. For example, from the Biblical account we cannot be absolutely certain about the number of Wise Men. Tradition tells us there were three because they presented three gifts. But the Bible doesn't tell us there were just three. In fact,there is some historical evidence that there could have been a half dozen or even as many as a dozen Wise Men, because they were wealthy men who traveled in caravans, along with their own personal servants. Neither does the Bible tell us the nationalities of these Wise Men. The scriptures do tell us they came from the east meaning the region beyond the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, but we are not told what country they came from.

3 Legend tells the names of the Wise Men were: Gaspar, Balthasar, and Melchior ; but the Bible doesn't tell us that. Legend also tells us they made their long journey on the backs of camels; but the Bible doesn't tell us that either. And I think we can be pretty certain they weren't wearing bathrobes or poster-board crowns on their heads. What we do know is that these men were highly educated scholars who specialized in science...astronomy...and religion. They were also legal experts. In fact, our term magistrates is derived from the ancient word Magi. But while there is so much about these WISE MEN that we don't know, there are some very valuable lessons we can learn from them this Christmas. The first truth we learn is this... I. Wise Men SEEK Jesus (v.2) 1. We don't know for sure how the Wise Men knew about the coming king revealed in the scriptures. Many believe because they likely came from the region of ancient Persia, they had access to the writings of Daniel which prophesied the coming of a King in Israel.

4 One thing is for sure. GOD confirmed this prophetic truth by giving the Wise Men a sign... the star. When they arrived in Jerusalem, the Wise Men asked King Herod... v.2 Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East Now there are millions of stars in the sky. What was it that made this one star stand out above all the others? Some have suggested it was a comet or a supernova. Some theologians even suggest the star was actually the shekinah glory of God Himself, like the pillar of light which led the Israelites by night in the wilderness or like the glory of the LORD that shown around the shepherds the night Jesus was born. (Luke 2:9) 3. No matter what the star was, it was the guiding light for those Wise Men. Notice, the Wise Men didn't call it a star...they called it His star! We have seen HIS STAR in the East. They were SEEKING JESUS and they knew HIS STAR would lead them to Him.

5 4. What is it that you seek at Christmas? What is it that you want to get out of Christmas? What is it that will make your Christmas wonderful and satisfying? * Having all of your family together? * Getting all the presents you asked for? * Watching all the Hallmark Christmas Movies or watching Christmas Vacation a dozen times? * Listening to holiday music all day long? I heard something interesting on the Christian radio station the other day. Illustration: According to a recent study, people who work in stores where Christmas music is played all day long for week's leading up to Christmas, actually struggle with greater depression and anxiety than the average person. 5. Sadly, when we seek to find the joy and spirit of Christmas in these things, it always seems to fall short and leaves us disappointed.

6 6. If you want to find the true spirit of Christmas...if you want your Christmas to be filled with great joy, then do what the Wise Men did long, long ago...seek JESUS...make JESUS the focal point of your Christmas! The second truth we learn is this... II. Wise Men WORSHIP Jesus (vs. 2, 9-11) 2 saying, Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him. (now skip down to verses 9-11) 9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him.. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

7 1. WORSHIP is at the very heart of the Wise Men's journey to find Jesus. They didn't travel all those miles just to see Jesus or just to take selfies with Jesus. Their journey was a journey of faith. They came to worship Jesus! 2. Now traditionally when we see nativity scenes at Christmastime we see the Wise Men standing along side the shepherds at the stable. 3. But notice in verse 11, it says And when they had come into the house, they saw the young child with His mother and fell down and worshiped Him. By the time they found Jesus, He was no longer in the stable, He was inside a house in Bethlehem; presumably the house of one of Mary or Joseph's relatives. And notice, it doesn't say they saw the baby...it says they saw the young child. The Greek term used here for young child tells us Jesus was probably somewhere between 12 months to 24 months old at this point. The fact that Herod issued a decree to kill all male Jewish babies in that vicinity two years old and younger lends credibility to this.

8 4. What incredible faith those Wise Men had. Jesus wasn't a grown man sitting upon a throne wearing a crown. He was just a toddler, and yet the Wise Men recognized Him as a King. And they fell down and worshiped Him. 5. And they presented Jesus with gifts...very special gifts...very significant gifts of GOLD, FRANKINCENSE and MYRRH. *GOLD was a gift fit for a King. A little over 30 years later Jesus would stand before Pontius Pilate, and Pilate would ask Him, Are You a King? And Jesus would answer, You say rightly that I am a King. (John 18:37) *FRANKINCENSE was used as incense by the High Priest in the worship at the Tabernacle and later the Tempe in Jerusalem. Jesus is our Great High Priest. The High Priest is the one who builds the bridge between GOD and sinful man. How appropriate was the gift of frankincense!

9 *AND MYRRH was a spice used in ancient times for embalming the dead. Of course this gift pointed to Christ's death on Calvary for the sins of the world. It is interesting that Jesus died just seven miles from Bethlehem's stable where He was born. ILLUSTRATION: Holman Hunt painted a famous picture of Jesus. In the painting Jesus is still a young boy standing in the door of his father's carpenter's shop at the close of the day. Young Jesus had come to the doorway to stretch His aching limbs which had tightened up as He worked over a work bench by His father's side all day long. As His arms are outstretched in the doorway, the setting sun cast a shadow of a cross on the wall of the shop. In the painting, Mary, His mother, is standing in the background. She can see the shadow of the cross on the wall. You cannot miss the look of fear in her eyes as she senses the tragedy that lies ahead for her son. 6. The Wise men must have sensed to as they bowed down to worship Jesus and presented Him with their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

10 7. If you and I are to discover the true joy and spirit of Christmas we must do as the Wise Men did long ago. We must WORSHIP Jesus. And the greatest way to worship Jesus is to give Him a gift. Not gold, not frankincense, not myrrh. But the gift of our lives. Romans 12:1 (NKJV) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of GOD, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to GOD, which is your reasonable service. WISE MEN SEEK JESUS WISE MEN WORSHIP JESUS And our third truth is this... III. Wise Men Are CHANGED By Jesus (v. 12) 12 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way. 1. GOD warned the Wise Men not to return to Herod as he had requested, but were told to return to their country by a different route.

11 2. It may have been an unfamiliar route...or a less convenient route...or a less comfortable route. It may have been a more costly route or a more dangerous route, or a far less traveled route. But it was the way GOD wanted them to go, and the Wise Men simply obeyed GOD'S will. After they encountered Jesus, their lives were never the same. They were changed men! 3. When one has a true encounter with Jesus Christ, he or she cannot remain the same. GOD calls us to forsake the old familiar route...the broad, heavily traveled road that leads to eternal destruction...and to travel the straight and narrow road that leads to eternal life. 4. JESUS HIMSELF is that straight and narrow road. Jesus says in John 14:6 (NKJV) I am the WAY,, the TRUTH, and the LIFE.. No one comes to the Father except through Me. 5. There are some of you here this morning who are on the wrong road. You are on that dead end road that will lead you straight to your eternal destruction.

12 6. The good news is Jesus did something to save you from eternal destruction. He gave His life for you! He died for your sins so that you might be saved. He is offering you the gift of eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) But the gift is meaningless unless you receive it. And the only way you can receive the gift is by surrendering your life to Jesus Christ. LEAD INTO INVITATION As we bring this Christmas Eve service to a close this morning we want to extend the Lord's invitation to those of you who have never received the gift of salvation from the LORD. You cannot buy the gift of salvation for it is priceless. You cannot earn the gift of salvation because you can never be good enough to earn your way into heaven.

13 You can only receive the gift by coming to JESUS in faith, as the Wise Men did; BELIEVING that He is the only one who can save you; REPENTING of your sins, and CONFESSING that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living GOD, and being BAPTIZED into Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins and the gift of God's Holy Spirit. WISE MEN SEEK JESUS...WISE MEN WORSHIP JESUS...and WISE MEN ARE CHANGED by Jesus. Will you be A WISE MAN today?

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