Summary: the visit of the wise men to see Jesus
January 19, 2003 Matthew 2:1-12
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. (NIV)
There’s an old Indian proverb that goes something like this: “Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a hundred miles in his moccasins.” And I think there’s some wisdom in those words. It’s hard to know a person very well until you’ve lived in his shoes, under his roof, and experienced his lifestyle. That’s why a parent will sometimes bring his child along with him to work, so the child can get to know his father or mother better and understand what he or she does.
That’s what God does for us today. He puts sand in our shoes, gold in our sacks, muscles in our legs, and has us mentally walk hundreds of miles westward in search of the Christ child. He does this by giving us a blow by blow report of how the Magi from the East went in search of the Christ child. As we take this path today, we are going to see that our paths are very similar to that of the wise men. Not only are our paths the same, but so are our obstacles, and so is our purpose. The theme for today is ~
Walk the Way of the Wise Men
I. See the well lighted path
Matthew starts our Epiphany season; 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." This tells us two things about the people we are going to follow. First of all, they were Magi. This was a term given to the wise men, professors, and scholars of ancient Babylon. If you had a good knowledge of natural things - whether it be the land, animals, the weather, or the stars, you were known as a Magi. Back then it was a respectable term, like being called a professor. This is why the Magi are also called the Wise Men.
This text tells us something else about the Magi - they came from the east. If the Magi were fulfilling a prediction of Isaiah 60, they came from Sheba, which would have been over a thousand miles away. But some think they were from Babylon, which would have been about a 500 mile journey. It is thought that they came from Babylon because Daniel was a member of the Magi in Babylon about 500 years before. If the Magi came from Babylon, then Daniel may have been the one who originally told them about the star pointing to Christ. Numbers 24:17 says, "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. Daniel may have been told by inspiration of the Holy Spirit that a star would appear in the East when the Christ child was to be born, and relayed this to the other Magi. This interpretation may have been carried on for 500 plus years. So the Magi may have come from Sheba, Babylon, or somewhere else in the east. Either way, we know that they came from a long ways away.