Summary: The joy of Christmas is found in the birth of Jesus Christ. True hope is found in the bible and the magi from the east are an example of people who followed God with faith in their hearts.
Christmas Sunday Service
Let’s take our Bibles and locate Matthew 2…today we journey in the footprints of the Magi – “we three kings of Orient are” – the three wise men (by the way, none of those actual titles are true. There weren’t technically three and they weren’t kings. But more about that later). And if there’s one word that describes the magi, it is the word “hope.” Think about it – they journeyed far and long based on their hope that a king was born in the town of Bethlehem. That’s a pretty strong hope, isn’t it?
There is hope everywhere at Christmas. As Australians we hope for many things
“I hope I get a PS3 for Christmas.”
“I hope I get a new dog for Christmas.”
“I hope I get a Mercedes Benz.”
We often make New Year’s resolutions
“I hope I get to keep my job this year.”
“I hope I get married next year.”
“I hope I can beat my cancer next year.”
But the problem with ‘New Year hope’ is that it is always based upon uncertainty. For example, we may say “I hope we get pregnant soon.” That kind of hope is a wish, not a certainty. We can hope all we want, doing everything humanly possible to “help our New Year’s wishes along.” All the indications may be that it will come true. But life is unpredictable and things can change at the last moment. Suddenly, all our New Year’s hopes are dashed.
You keep trying to improve your life and every Christmas you make new resolutions. Most of them you do not achieve and a few you succeed in. But it seems there is no way forward. There is no lasting joy, no sense of purpose.
That’s the problem with New Year’s hope – as good as it makes you feel sometimes, it is still fundamentally based on uncertainties. In the bible we see something different.
1) The bible shows us how to live
2) What about now?
3) Live with confidence
4) Christmas is all about Jesus
1) The bible shows us how to live
Put your nose into the Bible everyday. It is your spiritual food. And then share it. Make a vow not to be a lukewarm Christian.
Have you ever wondered how to move your life forward?
I mean to make sure that next year is better than this year? Really better.
The magi, however, had biblical hope. Biblical hope is an expectation, desire, or anticipation, but without the human uncertainty because biblical hope has, as its foundation, the promises and character of God.
Before we look at Matthew 2, let me show you the sort of hope you want to build your life on. It is
18God cannot tell lies! And so his promises and vows are two things that can never be changed.
We have run to God for safety. Now his promises should greatly encourage us to take hold of the hope that is right in front of us. 19This hope is like a firm and steady anchor for our souls. Hebrews 6:18-19a
At this time of year when so many people are hoping for something, we hope because of someone – God! We know that next year will be better than this year for one simple fact, we will grow as a Christian this coming year.
This is the kind of hope that motivated the Magi to leave their country and travel a long distance. This is the kind of hope that propelled the wise men to give of the treasures. This is the kind of hope that prompted the Magi to risk their own safety in search of the king.
It is the sort of hope that we need in our lives today.
Let’s look at their journey and see what insights we glean from this passage about biblical hope.
Matthew 2:1-2 says these wise men were “Magi from the east” and had seen a “star in the east.” So they came. Had they come on a hunch? Or was biblical hope really driving their search? Perhaps a little background will help answer that question.
Much of what has been written about the Magi is based upon speculation or traditions that may have no basis in fact. For example, they were not kings but were rather advisors to kings. And no where are we told there were only three. There was probably an entourage of people with these kingly advisors. So the song “We Three Kings” is really an urban legend (no offense to you Christmas carol lovers).
The group of Magi mentioned here in Matthew 2 were no doubt indirectly influenced generation after generation by Daniel and his Jewish friends. The fact that they undertook such a difficult journey in order to worship Him strongly suggests that they believed in the God of the Jews. In fact, did you know that Daniel is the only book – and only one – in the whole of the Bible that foretells the time of the Messiah’s first coming? The passage is