Summary: This sermon looks at the journey of the wise men and draws life lessons from it.
AM Sermon preached at Central Christian Church December 30, 2012
Take the Christmas Journey sermon series
Message #4 based on Matthew 2 story of wisemen
A few nights back I was listening to the forecast on TV when the weatherman said that there was a beautiful ring around the full moon. He went on to explain that the ring was the result of the moonlight shining through a layer of ice crystals that were in the clouds thousands of feet above the earth. He suggested that if you had the chance you should go outside and look at it. I took his suggestion. After the big build up he’d given it, I threw on a coat and went outside and looked up. He was right, it was a beautiful sight to behold. I noticed there weren’t any stars visible inside the ring so I wondered if the old folklore was true and if that meant we were going to get some precipitation within 24 hours. Turns out we did. But here’s what I’m leading up to, I’ve been something of a nature buff as far back as I can remember. And I’ve spent nights outside gazing up at the stars and planets. I’ve seen eclipses and meteor showers and shooting stars and comets and all kinds of beautiful sights but it wasn’t until this week as I was studying for this morning’s message that I found myself wondering if there wasn’t, as I was taking in those awesome nighttime sights, a whole lot more going on than meets the eye. Here’s what I’m talking about---I’ve known for years the verse of scripture in Psalms 19 which says that the heavens declare the glory of God and the skies proclaim the work of his hands. But it wasn’t until this week as I was reading and rereading and meditating on the story of the wisemen found in Matthew 2 that I began draw lines between that verse and the opening verses of Matthew 2. It wasn’t until this week that I began to wonder if there wasn’t something more to the comets and shooting stars and rings around the moon that I’ve looked at through the years than their simply being beautiful natural phenomenons? I got to thinking this week that it just might be possible that every shooting star, every comet, every show of the Northern lights, every eclipse and every ring around the moon was planned out before God even created the world and was set into motion at exactly the right time to mark an event that was taking place in the spiritual realm, some mighty work that God was in the process of doing. Think about it, if the wisemen had not recognized that possibility, we wouldn’t be reading their story in scripture and we wouldn’t be talking about the journey they made to Bethlehem some 2000 years later.
Matthew 2 opens this way...
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 when it rose and have come to worship him.”
After Jesus was born Magi came looking for Him. The Magi in the story surrounding Jesus birth are usually called the wisemen and are sometimes called the three kings. Traditional renderings cause us to imagine that there were three men and we picture them dressed all fancy wearing crowns and jewels, riding camels across the sand and showing up at the stable where Jesus was born. But the Bible doesn’t tell us how many there were. The Bible doesn’t say they rode camels or that they wore fancy clothing or that they were kings. And the Bible doesn’t say they showed up at the place where Jesus was born. To the contrary the Bible tells us by the time they showed up Jesus was living in a house---and the context seems to indicate they probably didn’t arrive until Jesus was somewhere between 6 and 18 months old----which I’ve been told is proof enough that there were no women among the Magi---because if there had been they would have stopped and asked for directions and showed up on time. We can’t be certain about that but what we know from history is that Magi were star-gazers. Or in other words, the wisemen may have been astronomers or astrologers, possibly both. If so they’re possibly the first example we have of people who understood that science and faith can co-exist in the human heart. Commentary writers suggest that the wisemen were promoted to act based upon information brought to their country during the time Daniel and the Israelites spent in Babylonian captivity. They probably had in their possession a copy of the book of Numbers and knew well the prophecy found in Numbers 24. There in verse 17 it says ““I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.” Perhaps they laid that alongside of that verse David wrote about the heavens declaring the work of God---put two and two together when they saw a star appear and thought in their hearts when a thousand year old prophecy has been fulfilled it’s worth checking out. We’re not told. We just know they were telling people they had seen a new star, believed it was a sign that a new king of the Jews had been born and they had come to worship him.