Summary: This sermon contrasts the response of the Magi and the people of Jerusalem to the birth of Christ.
Matthew 2: 1 – 12 / Searching Diligently For The Child
Intro: 2 kids decided to “play” Christmas. They wrapped the cat in “swaddling clothes” and put it in a doll cradle. The cat wasn’t into being the baby Jesus and split. The children searched the house saying, “Jesus, get back in your cradle.” (“Who Did Jesus Come For” by Kim Zingale, SermonCentral) What do we want or expect of the baby Jesus? Do we search diligently for the child so we can keep him in the manger and out of our lives? What is your response to Jesus?
I. Long ago others searched for Jesus. Our thinking about the nativity has been shaped almost entirely by Christmas carols and cards that are based on more imagination than revelation. Who were these wise men and why did they come?
A. Who were they? Verses 1 – 12 tell us virtually all we know about them. We do not know the number, their names or where they lived. We’re not even sure of the meaning of the word used for them, “magi” --- there is an ancient Iranian word, “Magoi” which was used to describe people who acted in very strange ways. The Latin word “magi” is the same one from which we get the word “magician.” --- They came from the EAST, maybe Babylon or Persia (Iraq or Iran).
B. Why did they come? Though we know little about them, we do know WHY they came. Vs. 2 – “We saw his star in the East and have come to worship him.” How could a Jewish king be sought by Gentiles so that they might worship him? The least likely came not just to look; but to present expensive gifts, humble themselves and worship Jesus.
C. I have taken many young people to Europe. Many returned home changed by the experience. Vs. 12 tells us the Magi returned home. Surely they had been changed by their journey. Many have made their journey to Christ and have been changed by the experience. Are you one of them?
II. Last Sunday I spoke about Herod and his response to the birth of the Christ child. There are many people today like Herod who try to do away with the significance of this event. But, they do not concern me as much as others who were present at the birth of the Christ child, the people of Jerusalem, the common people, the majority of people.
A. Vs 3 – “When King Herod heard this he was disturbed and all Jerusalem with him.” Jerusalem was disturbed WITH HIM. This suggests there was a common concern, mutual apprehension. All Jerusalem failed to respond to the announcement of the birth of THEIR king. It was not sufficient reason to travel the 5 short miles south to Bethlehem. Why would Jerusalem be so apathetic?
B. A helpless babe could hardly fulfill Israel’s expectations of a mighty Messiah. Put plainly, the babe in the manger had little to offer. Jerusalem at the time of our Lord’s birth (like our world today) was filled with unbelief and apathy. If it’s not going to benefit me personally, then I don’t care.
C. There are those today who are so apathetic to the claims of Christ that they will not bother to make the minimal effort required to respond to the fact that he has come. There are those in our community who do not make the effort to travel even a mile or two to a church where they might come to know the Christ who came to save them from their sins.
Conclu: Is it possible that some have become so preoccupied with the holiday celebration they have failed to do what is most important --- to seek him and to worship him? Have you journeyed to the manger to be unchanged and go back home the same person? Many have become apathetic and indifferent to Christ Jesus. Our king has come and few are excited enough about the news to share it with others. Apathy sets in the minute we leave the church doors behind. Which response most accurately reflects your response to the coming of the king, our Lord, Christ Jesus?