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Summary: Part 3 of 5 of the series, Christmas Perspectives. The Three Magi who sought a "new" king, and the pompous ruler who feared the rumor - these unique perspectives on the birth of Jesus point us to our own hunger and fears for the one who came as a child...

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TALE OF FOUR KINGS

Part 3 of the Christmas Perspectives Series

Matthew 2:1-20

Read at beginning of service:

Matthew 2:1-2 (NIV)

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."

INTRODUCTION

The Christmas Story, from the perspective of Mary and Joseph was intimate, real and precious. It began with an unusual message, led them on an extraordinary journey and began yet again as the message was fulfilled in the moment of Jesus Christ’s birth.

Two weeks ago, I continued the Christmas Perspectives series of messages by delving into how the Christmas Story would have appeared to the shepherds. This familiar story became more beautiful as we witnessed through their eyes the joy of God’s grace in announcing His Son’s birth to them, the faith of their belief that there would be a child in Bethlehem (just as the angel had said), and the willingness of their gift as they quickly spread throughout the slumbering town of Bethlehem with the joyous news of the Messiah’s birth. From the perspective of the shepherds the Christmas Story is a story of tremendous joy and love found in the grace God had shown them and shows us!

As I pick up on the Christmas Perspective series this week I want to remind you that we are attempting to witness the Christmas Story through the eyes of those who were there, seeing how they saw it, feeling how they felt it. In doing so I hope that you will discover, as I have and am still, that our perspective of the Christmas Story can at times be very shallow and distanced from the immediacy and intimacy that God would have us experience in this present day. For Christmas is not merely about an event that took place over 2000 years ago but it is also about an event that can take place in our lives in the present as the Christ child is born in our hearts through our faith and belief in Him.

Remember, our perspective on something will shape our actions, our reactions, and even our lack of action in circumstances, experiences and relationships with people. I’ve been beginning these messages with examples of the influence perspective has and I’d thought I’d share another one with you today:

Things are not always what they seem – A pastor went to call on one of the elderly widows of the church. While visiting with her, he noticed a bowl of shelled peanuts on the coffee table. During the conversation he began nibbling on them and soon the bowl was empty. He then apologized to the woman for eating all of her peanuts. She replied, "That’s OK, Reverend. It’s no bother. You see, three weeks ago I had all my teeth pulled. Since that time, I’ve just been sucking the chocolate off the peanuts and putting them in that bowl." (PERSPECTIVE, Autoillustrator.com)The only connection between this example and today’s message is that just as there were two differing perspectives between the Pastor and the elderly widow – today we are going to look at two differing perspectives in our "Tale of Four Kings". We find this tale in Matthew 2:1-20

Matthew 2:1-20 (NIV)

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. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. 13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." 14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son." 16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: 18 "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more." 19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead."

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