Summary: To worship Jesus we must: risk the journey, know the word, and come with sacrifice and generosity.
December 11 Worship (Wise Men, Matthew 2:1-12)
So what can we glean from this Christmas story about worship?
1. To worship Jesus, we must risk the journey vv.1-2
This Christmas, get past the glitz and glitter and presents and parties and become a genuine worshipper of the Messiah. Risk being all in for Jesus.
2. To worship Jesus, we must know the Word vv.3-8
This Christmas season, get past your casual indifference to the word and pour your life into the study and love of the Word
3. To worship Jesus, we must come with sacrifice and generosity. Vv.9-12
All paths that lead to the Messiah end in Joy
This Christmas, let your worship of the Christ-child end up end joy, sacrifice, and generosity. In 2010, the Philadelphia Opera did a flash mob at the City Center Mall. The famous wannamker organ was playing, people were shopping, and then the organ launched into Handel’s Hallelujah chorus and the opera singers began to sing. What was amazing is that the whole MALL broke into singing. Watch this: (video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wp_RHnQ-jgU thru 5:15 of the video) There’s something about worship that sets the heart jubilant and free.
Open your Bibles to Matthew 2:1-12 as we continue our series entitled Traditions. We have so many traditions at Christmas, right? Decorations, parties, presents, food. But amonst those traditions, are you fostering and preserving higher, more important traditions?
Let’s read this passage Matthew 2:1-12 (on screen)
v.1 (on screen)
“in the days of King Herod” This would be Herod the Great; also called Herod the Evil. Herod was not born a Jew, though once he took control of the region, he converted for political purposes. He is known for his colossal building projects, Caeserea & Masada & the expansion of the Temple built in Ezra’s day, but he was a paranoid guy who surrounded himself with 2000 body guards and ruthlessly killed one of his wives, her sons, her grandpa—anyone he thought might try to take away his power. … Died in about 4 B.C.; so when the Gregorian calendar was established B.C./A.D. they were off 4 years.
“wise men from the east” Who were these guys? Some of your translation uses ‘wise men’, but the Greek text uses the word Magi, which indicates they were astronomers. Tradition says that there were 3 of them, tho the number is uncertain. It’s also assumed that they came from Babylonia. We’re not sure if God sent an angel with a message about the star or if they had knowledge of Numbers 24:17 that predicted a star would come forth from Jacob, later named Israel. We don’t know. All we know is that
“unexpectedly”: they appeared on the scene out of nowhere. They show up, start inquiring about the birth of an extraordinary child, and in a small, close community like Jerusalem, this would have been a big deal.
v.2 (on screen)
“we have come to worship Him” Somehow they were notified that the king of the Jews, the Messiah, had been born and they were following not just any star, but HIS star. Much speculation about this star. Some say it was Haley’s comet, but Haley’s comet was visible in 11 B.C., not 4-5 B.C. Others think it was the conjunction of planets…but again, modern astronomers don’t place any occurrences like that at the time of the birth of Jesus. So we’re left to explain this, not as a NATURAL occurrence, but a supernatural phenomena—a once in history kind of thing. And why not: the light was announcing the coming of God in the flesh!
v.3 (on screen)
“When Herod heard this, he was deeply disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him” You know that saying, “If momma’s not happy, aint nobody happy”? Well if Herod was upset, everyone was upset. When Herod got upset, bad things happened. Why was he upset? Because this paranoid king would have felt supremely threatened by this child that people near and far might be calling King of the Jews. That was his title and he would guard it ruthlessly.
v.4 (on screen)
“So he assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people and asked them where the Messiah would be born.” Though Herod was a practicing Jew, meaning that he observed their rituals, he was not really familiar with the Old Testament so he had to rely on someone else to tell him what it said.
v.5-6 (on screen)
“Bethlehem” about 8 miles SW of Jerusalem. Bethlehem was the capital of one of the 12 tribes, the tribe of Judah. The scripture noted that the Messiah would be born of the tribe of Judah. So the experts that Herod assembled pointed to Micah 5:2, which was one of the Minor Prophets in the Old Testament written about 700 years earlier.