Summary: Christmas sermon, a look at the Magi to help people see that searching for King Jesus is life’s most worthy pursuit, and finding Him changes it completely
His Name Shall Be…King
Have you ever considered the irony: When there’s a play called Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs, everyone wants to be Dopey – after all, his lines are the easiest to learn! Dopey. When it comes to a Christmas play, there are a lot of parts too, but there’s a line of people who want to be a wise man.
Why not? Who doesn’t mind the title “Wise Man,” and at least the hint that as they selected you for such a part they were doing some typecasting? Maybe it’s also because you can’t go too wrong playing the part of a wise man. Who’s to say you don’t look like they did, or that you’re not acting or sounding the way they did? We really don’t know a whole lot about these mysterious 3 guys – or was it 2 guys? Or was it 10? That’s the first thing we don’t know. Just how many were there? We don’t know.
We also don’t know where they came from: from the East; afar. Maybe it was Persia, maybe even farther away. Who knows? It was afar. Down South that’s why they say they smelled like smoke, because they came from afar.
We don’t know much about their occupation in life. Matthew calls them “magi.” No other name is given. As best can be guessed, they were from an eastern caste system descended from the tribe of Magus. Apparently, they were similar to some of the “wisemen” or “magicians” that kings assembled around themselves in OT days for when they needed words of wisdom – so that would make them men who studied a mixture of astronomy and astrology, of spiritualism and mysticism and science all piled together.
Somewhere, many years ago, began this tradition of calling these men “kings.” That’s sort of ironic, because it’s in Matthew’s account of their visit that we get the last name of Jesus that we’re looking at in this series – King. Matthew’s gospel is all about showing how Jesus is the fulfillment of the OT Messiah – the Anointed One of God, the King. Matthew is working to bridge the gap for us between the OT and the advent of Jesus. He quotes 53 times and makes many more indirect allusions from 25 of of the 39 OT books. 16 of those quotes are in the first 2 chapters of Matthew.
Do you want to be a wise man, or woman? These men understood something about Jesus that every one of us needs to understand this morning. Jesus is the King, and searching for Him is life’s most worthy pursuit.
If you want to be a wise person this year, consider how Jesus fits into a wise person’s life. Consider first how…
I. The Hope of Seeing King Jesus Leads to Great Extremes
Because searching for Jesus is life’s most worthy pursuit.
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."
These wise men went to some extremes looking for Jesus:
1. long trip – up to 2 years, carrying a lot of loot, to a land where they were foreigners
2. single goal with their lives
I doubt any of them were holding down a job as they traveled. Their stop in Jerusalem and Bethlehem wasn’t like a vacation stopover where you see a sign that says “Historical Marker Ahead – birthplace of Jesus” and they pulled over to visit. Their lives had to be devoted to the moment as they traveled.
3. they planned to give treasures…to a child
a little toddler who didn’t know frankincense from Frankenstein or myrrh from marbles. That’s extreme
4. they came to worship Him
not to learn from Him, live with Him, get to know Him, to receive a blessing from Him. They simply came to worship Him. That’s what they said their purpose was, and that’s all Matthew records they did.
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written: "'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'" Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."