Sermons

Summary: We are called to make the most of Christmas by making a difference

Is Your Christmas Making a Difference?

Matthew 2:1-11

Series: Christmas with the Classics

December 4, 2011

Morning Service

One of the great Christmas classics, It’s a Wonderful Life, tells the story of George Bailey. George believes that his life has amounted to little and means even less until an angel named Clarence helps him see what life would be like without him. George gets a glimpse of a reality where he never existed.

It’s a Wonderful Life is the story of George Bailey and the town of Bedford Falls. George had big dreams of traveling the world, going to college and getting out of Bedford Falls. George never left Bedford Falls to care for the family building and loan. In the process, he struggled and fought with the town control freak, Mr. Potter. As the story unfolds, George’s uncle and partner in the building and loan lost $8,000 dollars. George takes responsibility for the lost money and in desperation finds that he is worth more dead than alive. He makes the decision to kill himself when an angel named Clarence steps in to save the day.

Clarence gives George an unusual gift, he gets to glimpse life as it would be if he never existed. At one point, Clarence makes the statement that George really had a wonderful life. George rediscovers his purpose in life and rediscovers the wonder of living.

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1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 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." 3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 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. 5 "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written: 6 " '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.' " 7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 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." 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. Matthew 2:1-11

Misconception #1: The Wise Men were Kings

Nowhere does the Biblical record describe these men as kings. We hear the song We Three Kings and take it for gospel. The Wise Men were Magi, a class of advisors that were part of the Babylonian society. The Magi were well known for various skills such as, diplomacy, the interpretation of dreams, the use of sorcery and politics. The word magi is where we derive our English word magic or magician. The Magi were often wealthy and held great influence in their culture but they were not kings

Wise Men or Magi were among some of the most highly regarded individuals in the eastern parts of the Ancient World. The majority of Magi or Wise Men were known for pagan practices. The Magi were sorcorers, practiced the black arts of magic. Magi were also students of science, astronomy, agriculture and politics. Magi were some of the chief advisors and diplomats of the day.

Matthew records that these Magi were from the East. There is evidence of an Eastern group of Magi that were God-fearers, not sorcerers. These men who come from the east, clearly are influenced by Jewish customs, thought and theology. How can this be? God fearers were non-Jewish followers of the one true God of Israel.

Misconception #2: The Wise Men arrived on Christmas Day

Matthew records that the Wise Men found the child after traveling from the East. The word for child is different than the word for baby. A child was no longer considered an infant. Clearly the language shows that Jesus was not a newborn. There are a number of Christmas plays and programs that depict the Wise Men arriving with the shepherds and giving their treasures to the baby Jesus. There is no way that the Wise Men arrived with the shepherds.

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