Summary: It was only six miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem.
Only Six Miles Christmas series 2013 #1
1st Dec 2013
Shell Point Baptist Church
ALL SERMONS IN CONDENSED FORM
How long would it take to walk six miles?
• If you/good shape/walk/couple of hours.
• Terrain/relatively flat/easily cover six miles/afternoon.
• That’s not much of a hike.
• Wanted/walk/Jerusalem/Bethlehem/only six miles
• Start/morning/be there/early afternoon.
The land of Israel is tiny compared to the United States.
• Whole country/8500 square miles/roughly/size New Jersey
• Bit smaller than Vermont.
• One/most important events took place six miles/Jerusalem.
• 2000 yrs.ago there was not much there.
Bethlehem was indeed a “little town” as described in the familiar Christmas carol by Phillips Brooks.
• Well-known/birthplace/King David
• Town itself was home to perhaps 200 permanent residents.
• Bethlehem close/Jerusalem/various inns/guesthouses were full of pilgrims making their way to and from Jerusalem
• Stay/way to various ancestral hometowns to pay the census tax required by Caesar Augustus (Luke 2:1-3).
It was only six miles from Jerusalem to Bethlehem.
• Just hold this thought in your mind.
• Jerusalem/Bethlehem/next-door neighbors
• Jerusalen/large city—Bethlehem/tiny hamlet
• Bethlehem in that day/place you stayed/way to the big city
• Spent/night/Bethlehem/next day/walked six miles/Jerusalem.
• Six miles. That’s not very far.
Against that backdrop we read Matthew’s account of the coming of the Magi: (Matthew 2:1-6).
So many questions come to mind when we read this:
• Who were the Magi? Where did they come from?
• How far did they journey? How many Magi came to Jerusalem?
• What was the “star” they saw in the east?
• How did they know what it meant? How did it lead them?
• Why did they come to worship the “king of the Jews"?
• Why was the whole city disturbed?
Focus/just one question the text doesn’t entirely answer:
• Why didn’t the Jewish leaders go to Bethlehem?
• It was so close. Only six miles away.
• If they knew/Messiah was to be born there
• Why didn’t they go/check it out for themselves?
The Magi knew so little, came so far, and gave so much.
The teachers/law knew so much, were so near, and did so little.
• It was such a short journey/Only six miles.
I’m preaching these words from Shell Point
• So I will state/matter/local terms.
• If Jesus came to Beaufort, would we go and see him?
If someone said Jesus was in Lobeco
• Would we stop what we were doing?
If Jesus showed up on Lady’s Island
• Would we go and greet him?
What if Jesus came to St.Helena/Hunting Island/Laural Bay
• Would we be too busy to go see him?
Think of all that the teachers/law knew about/coming/Messiah:
He would be:
• Born of the Seed of the woman……Genesis 3:15
• Descendant of Shem………..Genesis 9:26.
• Of the seed of Abraham………Genesis 12:1-3
• Descendant of Isaac……….Genesis 22:18.
• Descendant of Jacob……..Genesis 28:14
• Tribe of Judah….Genesis 49:10.
• “Son of David."……2 Samuel 7:11,12,16
• Born of a virgin……Isaiah 7:14.
• Born in Bethlehem……..Micah 5:2.
We can summarize in five simple statements what the Jewish scholars knew about the Messiah:
1. He will be a Jew.
2. He will come from the tribe of Judah.
3. He will be a descendant of David.
4. He will be born in Bethlehem.
5. He will be born of a virgin.
Who were these scribes and chief priests and teachers of the law that Herod consulted?
• Best and brightest minds of the day.
• Professional students/Torah of God,
• Studied OT day and night.
• Knew Word of God, loved it, revered it, learned it, debated it, studied it, and memorized it.
• Some memorized/first five books/Bible/Hebrew.
• Others memorized/Psalms/Hebrew.
If they knew the truth, why didn’t they go to Bethlehem?
• When Herod asked where/Christ was to be born
• Immediately/religious leaders knew the answer
• Bethlehem of Judea because/prophet Micah had foretold some 700 years earlier.
• They knew it by heart.
• They didn’t have to look it up.
Use/modern term, they didn’t have to use a lifeline or say,
• “Regis, let’s go 50/50 on that one.”
• I’m sure one of them must have smiled and said
• “I hope the king asks us a hard question next time."
• If they knew the truth, why didn’t they go to Bethlehem?
• Let me suggest three answers to that question.
1. Their knowledge made them intellectually lazy.
Did you know it’s possible to know too much?
• You can study so long, compare so many opinions
• read so many books/debate so many ideas
• You never get around to making a commitment to anything.
You are “ever learning but never able to acknowledge the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7).