Summary: Lessons we can learn from the wise men at Christmas.
-->At a reception honoring musician Sir Robert Mayer on his one hundredth birthday, elderly British socialite Lady Diana Cooper fell into conversation with a friendly woman who seemed to know her well. Lady Diana’s failing eyesight prevented her from recognizing her fellow guest until she peered more closely at the magnificent diamonds and realized she was talking to Queen Elizabeth! Overcome with embarrassment, Lady Dian curtsied and stammered, “Ma’am, O ma’am, I’m sorry, ma’am. I didn’t recognize you without your crown!”
--Well, the Bible tells us of some wise men who were used to being around royalty, but recognized the true King...even without a crown.
---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 tableau 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.
-I invite you to open a Bible and turn once again to Matthew, chapter two.
--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.
->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.
---Notice, 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.