Summary: The Wise Men came from the east to Jerusalem. As said in Matthew 2; Saying, Where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him.
A Journey that Ends With Jesus - “The Wise Men”
Characters of Christmas – Message Three – 2008
Gages Lake Bible Church
December 21, 2008
Pastor Daniel Darling
• Today we share another message in our series entitled, The Characters of Christmas. In a sense, you could preach an entire year of sermons, because there are so many compelling figures involved in the eternal drama of the Incarnation, that incredible miracle of God becoming flesh and dwelling among us.
• This message brings us to the Wise Men. Most of us are used to seeing these guys around the Nativity. Last night I spent a lot of time online hunting down the Fisher Price Little People Nativity Set.
• In every Nativity I’ve ever seen, they are there, on their camels, and there are always three of them. We’ll get to the reason for that a little later. They are always decked out in really cool shiny robes and always have funny hats. I’ve always wondered. How in the world do they know what kind of hats they wore back then? But I’m sure someone, somehow knows that information.
• Speaking of the Wise Men, I read this week in the Gages Lake Lighthouse, a quote put in there by its wonderful editor, Janice Webb, who happens to be a woman. She wrote this:
• What would have happened if it had been three wise women instead of three Wise Men? They would have asked for directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, and made a casserole!
• I’m wondering what they could have done with a GPS? They might have actually been to Bethlehem on time.
• In all seriousness, the story of the Wise Men is included in Matthew’s divinely inspired narrative for a purpose. It wasn’t that Matthew was trying to fill out the characters in his new Christmas play. He wasn’t trying to spice up the story.
• Matthew’s Gospel has a purpose. It is to present Jesus Christ as King, the rightful Heir to the throne of David. That is why he opens the Gospel with a bold claim: that Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, legally adopted by Joseph, comes from the line of family of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and most importantly, David himself. Matthew shares Joseph’s family tree because to be legally, King, Jesus’ father would have to be in David’s line. Back then the birth records were kept on file in the temple and anyone could access them.
• So it’s no wonder that Matthew continues to establish Jesus as King by sharing the story of the Wise Men, or the Kings, who came from afar. Their presence in Bethlehem and Herod’s subsequent fear illustrates that Jesus Christ has a rightful place among kings. In fact, He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
• Luke’s Gospel—whose purpose is to establish Jesus as the Son of Man, talks only of the lowly Mary and the lowly shepherds. Jesus is indeed both: King of Kings and Son of Man. He is both noble and humble. King and Savior. God and man. This is the divine and wonderful paradox of the God-man.
• I believe there are some powerful life lessons for us today in this story. But before we get to those, I think have to figure out just who these guys were.
• If you take a step back, they don’t really fit into this story. A poverty-stricken family. A lowly stable and a manger. Shepherds. A cattle-trough.
• Only God could bring some of the smartest and most prominent of Asia and the world into this scene.
• It reminds me of the Church—doesn’t it? The Church is made up of all kinds of people from all income levels, all backgrounds, all social strata. What a beautiful picture. The cross of Jesus Christ is the great leveler.
• The story of the Wise Men presents several questions.
o Where did they come from? The text tells us that they were “Magi from the East.” The word, “Magi” refers to a specific class of priests probably from the Persian Empire. Some feel they each came from different nations, representing different countries. That could be true. But probably each country was an eastern country—so they were in the same general region.
o Who Were They? Other sources tell us that Magi existed for hundreds of years. They were largely astrologers. Now there is a difference between astronomy and astrology. Astronomy is a study of the stars. Astrology believes there is a connection between God and the placement of the stars.
o Tradition says that they were high men of Persia. Undoubtedly they were men of renown, because as we’ll see later, they attracted Herod’s attention. They were brilliant and highly educated scholars. They were probably trained in the best schools and the most rigorous disciplines like medicine, philosophy, religion, and prophecy.