Summary: The story of the Wise Men is a story of mystery, for it presents questions that we cannot answer. (Powerpoint available - #264)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
THE WISE MEN
TEXT: Matthew 2:1-12
(PowerPoint slides used with this sermon are available free. Just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org & ask for PowerPoint - #264)
The story of the Wise Men is a story of mystery, for it presents questions that we cannot answer.
"Where did they come from?" We don’t know.
"How many were there?" We really aren’t sure.
"How did they know to follow the star?" We’re not told.
They just seem to come mysteriously out of nowhere to pay homage to the new born king, & then just as mysteriously they are gone.
Scripture doesn’t give many details, but tradition has had a heyday! Tradition says that they were 3 in number, & that they traveled on camels across the desert, silhouetted against the nighttime sky, graced with palm trees. Tradition gives their names as Casper, Melchior, Baltezar. Tradition tells us where they came from, what they did, & where they went.
Traditions tells us that they were baptized by Thomas, & when they died that their bodies were preserved in Constantinople. Centuries later their bones were moved to Cologne, & if you have the price of admission, you can still see their bones, even to this day. Tradition has told their story in its entirety. The only problem is that all of this is just tradition. There is no proof for any of what tradition tells us.
But I am certain about one thing - the number of wise men and women increases in every generation as more and more people follow what we know about the wise men, rather than what we don’t know.
So, this morning lets concentrate on what we do know about the wise men.
I. THEY WERE WILLING TO STEP OUT IN FAITH & FOLLOW WHEREVER GOD LED THEM
A. Why were they following the star? How did they know of its importance? Since the Bible doesn’t tell us, we can only guess.
The Bible does tell us that the wise men came from the east. The major empires to the east had been the Babylonian & the Persian empires. We also know that the Babylonians specialized in studying the stars.
We also know that during the Jewish exile that Daniel, a faithful Jew & prophet of God, rose in such prominence that he became chief of the wise men of Babylon & the third ruler in the kingdom. Then when the Persians conquered Babylon, Daniel became president of the presidents under King Darius.
Therefore, many scholars suggest that the wise men of the east had ample opportunities to know the O.T. scriptures & prophecies. Maybe they were familiar with Numbers 24:17, "I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A star shall come forth from Jacob, & a scepter shall rise from Israel."
So when they saw the star come from Jacob, they were ready to go & worship Him who was to wield the scepter in Israel - to be the King of the Jews - the King of Kings & Lord of Lords.
Whatever the case was, the important thing for us to realize is that they were ready to go - to follow wherever God would direct them. And God has always been faithful in His leading.
ILL. He led the children of Israel across the wilderness, providing a pillar of cloud by day, & a pillar of fire by night. He provided them food when they were hungry, drink when they were thirsty, & clothing when they were naked.
And now he was providing a star to lead these wise men to the place where the Christ child lay.
APPL: God may not lead us in quite as dramatic a way today, but God promises to lead us - if we will let Him. Someone said, "The eye of faith is one that is willing to take the next step, & trusts God to direct that next step."
We don’t know what tomorrow holds - or next week - or next year. But we know that when we are in His hands, He does lead, & He will guide each step if we will let Him. Jesus said, "I will not leave you alone. I will send you the comforter, the Holy Spirit, to guide you into all truth."
So we have God’s Spirit to lead us day by day, dwelling within us - on the throne of our lives - leading & directing & guiding each step. Even so, wise men of every generation have been divinely led, listening to & heeding the Word of God day by day.
B. But let us go back to the wise men as they were preparing to leave their homes & follow the star.
ILL. Can you just imagine how their neighbors reacted? "O, are you going on a journey?" "Yes, we are." "Where are you going?" "We don’t know." "Well, how long are you going to be gone?" "We don’t know."