Summary: Matthew 2 not only describes the Wise Men from the East who sought the Messiah, but the "wise men" from the West, Herod's advisors who missed the Savior. This sermon speaks of salvation of the lost and the lordship of Christ for the saved.
The “Wise Men” Who Missed the Savior
December 27, 2015
Adapted from a skeletal outline in Preach for a Year, #2, by Roger Campbell.
A PowerPoint presentation for this sermon is available upon request by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TEXT: Matthew 2:1-11 – “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. 7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.”
Well, Christmas is over. Each Sunday in December, we’ve looked at key characters in the Christmas story: Elizabeth and Zecharia, the parents of Jesus’s cousin, John the Baptist, Mary and last week, Joseph.
You may have caught on to the fact that we left out one of the key stories in the Gospels surrounding the birth of Christ: the story of the wise men.
All of us are familiar with these wise men from the East in the Christmas story. We sing the song, “We Three Kings of Orient Are,” though the Bible neither says that they were kings, nor that there were three of them.
They’re sometimes referred to as “the Magi.” The Bible tells us nothing more about the wise men other than that they came from the East and apparently had enough knowledge of the Jewish Scriptures—and no, not from astrology!—to know to look for the Jews’ Messiah.
Where the Bible leaves off, tradition has taken over: For instance, various names have been given to the Magi, though that is not in the Bible either:
• Hormizdah, Yazdegerd and Perozdh are mentioned in one account.
• In another, they have the names Hor, Basanater and Karsudan.
• The Western tradition names them Balthasar, Melchior and Gaspar.
Over the centuries there have been various stories, plays, books and movies made to portray these wise men. Yet the only facts we really know for sure are the few details Matthew tells us. Mark, Luke and John are silent about the wise men.
Why were these wise men wise?—I believe they were wise for four reasons:
• First, because they inquired after and followed the Word of God.
• Second, because they looked for and found Jesus.
One never finds true fulfillment and joy in life until he seeks after and finds Jesus.
• Third, they were wise because they worshiped Jesus.
Theirs was not a mere intellectual pursuit.
They were searching for someone to WORSHIP.
• Lastly, they were wise because they obeyed God.
Yes, the story of the wise men is fascinating. But actually my message today is not about them at all. I want to talk about another group of men in the same text of Scripture we just read.
In verses 4-6 we read of a group of men who were thought to be wise in their own day who did NOT go to Bethlehem searching for Jesus; who did NOT worship Him, and who, as we’ll see, were NOT obedient to God. Herod called upon these men to advise him about the disturbing news of a prophesied birth of a King—a possible contender for Herod’s throne. The chief priests and scribes were appointed wise men to help Herod pinpoint where this King of the Jews was to be born.
Note verse 4 – “And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.”