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The Glory of Christmas // The Wisemen // Week 4

CityRise December 21, 2020 sermons, cityrise, Crosspoint Church - Bellaire, glory of christmas, Roger Patterson,

The following is a manuscript of the sermon presented by Roger Patterson on Sunday December 20 at our Crosspoint Church – Bellaire Campus and in our Online Experience on youtube.com/cityriseorg. To view the sermon in full, please visit our YouTube page.

Christmas morning is a time of giving gifts. I’m sure you have your traditions just as we have ours.  I remember my favorite gift I received as a young child on Christmas morning. I was about 6 years old and we went to my grandparents’ home in Yellville, Arkansas for Christmas.

When it came time to open gifts, all four of us kids were given a gift and we began to open them at the same time.

When I opened the gift in my hand, I looked at it mysteriously.  It was a Mickey Mouse handheld pinball game.  I didn’t get it.

After I shrugged my shoulders, I looked at what my brothers and sisters got, and they all had a Mickey Mouse theme as well.

We kind of looked at each other and then together had this revelation that my parents then confirmed – We were going to Disney World!  What a great moment and what a great trip that was!

We all remember those extra special gifts that we have received – those gifts that speak to our significance and what we mean to someone. 

The first Christmas gifts were given to Jesus from people that were far removed from the story.  These were gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. 

And, today, as we keep digging deeper into this story, I’m convinced that these Wise Men have a lot to teach us about what Worship looks like. Let’s read Matthew 2:1-12 and then I’ll share my outline with you.

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. 11On 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.

Here is my outline for our reference as we navigate this passage today.

Worship is Costly…

  1. It’s Physical
  2. It’s Precious
  3. It’s Proclamation

Let’s look at this first principle as we dig deeper into the context of this story. 

Worship is Costly…

  1. It’s Physical
  2. It’s Precious
  3. It’s Proclamation

I. Worship is Costly…It’s Physical

Matthew 2:1-2

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.”

Here we are at the point in the story when the Wise Men are introduced to us.  And what I want you to notice here is the significance of their physical movement.  You see, the Wisemen re-oriented their lives to worship Jesus.  Now, let’s dig a bit deeper here to understand this by asking the simple question, “Who were these men?”

These Magi were most likely Persians whose insight into the King of the Jews came from the influence of Israel’s exile in Babylon as mentioned in the OT book of Daniel. These men were astrologers in Babylon (modern day Iraq) who attempted to read the stars in order to predict the future and were supposed to be skilled at interpreting dreams. King Nebuchadnezzar and King Darius used these wise men as advisors.

Remember, the history.  The Israelites had been exiled to Babylon in the book of Daniel. And God raises up Daniel, an Israelite, to a position of power and authority, and he gains significant influence in Babylon.

Daniel 6:1-3 states…

Daniel 6:1-3

 It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.

It is at this point of promotion where a scheme is developed to take Daniel out of the picture.  This ultimately leads to his being thrown in the Lion’s Den and being saved by God.

After he is released from the Lion’s Den the next day, and those who were set against him were exposed and condemned to the Lion’s Den, King Darius declared…

Daniel 6:25-28

25 Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you. 26 I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel,

for he is the living God,
    enduring forever;
his kingdom shall never be destroyed,
    and his dominion shall be to the end.
27 He delivers and rescues;
    he works signs and wonders
    in heaven and on earth,
he who has saved Daniel
    from the power of the lions.”

28 So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

The Jewish people, we know, were waiting for a Messiah, a deliverer. And I can’t help but think that Daniel’s influence in Babylon caused some in Babylon to also anticipate a Messiah.

Janet Denison says of the Wise Men, in her book, Our Christmas Stories

Most nativity sets have three wise men. In fact, we sing a hymn titled, “We three Kings.” The truth is, there were probably many people who followed the star and traveled from the east to find the king.  The prophet Daniel was considered a wise man, even by those who had taken him captive in Babylon. It was his wisdom and faith that had been proven true to the Babylonian King. Therefore, it is likely that Daniel had taught the prophecies that the magi—all from the regions of that area—had studied.

Denison states…

Daniel taught that, one day God would send his Messiah and this Messiah would be a King.

So, what did Daniel teach that could lead these MAGI to look for a sign that the King of the Jews was born?

Look quickly with me at Daniel 7:14.

Daniel 7:14

And to him was given dominion
    and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
    should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
    which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
    that shall not be destroyed.

Daniel was proclaiming that the Son of Man was coming and he would ultimately be given dominion that is an everlasting dominion.  As a matter of fact, we still reference the book of Daniel today to see what Daniel had to say regarding the Messiah and the end of times. 

Now, fast forward hundreds of years to Matthew 2, and the story of the wise men. Because of the Jewish influence over the Babylonians, perhaps these wise men were anticipating and expecting a Messiah to come. They were expecting a king and these astrologers were watching the stars for a sign. And God sent them a sign in the stars that led them to the home of Jesus.

When the wise men showed up on the scene, it was not at the stable, as we often think. They actually came months later. Notice in v.11, that they came to the “house” and saw the “child.” Nevertheless, these men were so expectant of a king, a Messiah, that they traveled well over 500 miles (this was the distance as the crow flies), and a star led them.

My friend, before we move forward, consider how the Magi rearranged their entire lives to worship Jesus.  Worship is Costly…it’s physical.

  • Are you willing to rearrange your entire lives to worship Jesus? 
  • Will you prioritize your time and your efforts to worship our LORD?
  • Will you get up early to worship? 
  • Will you join the gathering of the saints once again?

Let me challenge you.  If you have yet to return to church, because it’s gotten really comfortable and convenient to watch from the couch, but you are going everywhere else, I want to ask you are you giving our Lord your best?

  • If you are staying away because you are at a high risk…I totally understand.  And that’s why we are putting a lot of effort in coming to you via our YouTube channel.
  • But if you are staying away just because you have gotten into a bad habit, I want to ask you to pray about coming back to the “Gathering of the Saints.”

What obstacles need to be moved in your heart and mind in order to worship Jesus?  WORSHIP IS COSTLY…IT’S PHYSICAL AND REQUIRES YOUR BEST EFFORT.

Before I move on from this point, notice also that Worship is Physical in nature in regard to posture and body movement. 

Look at Matthew 2:11 with me for just a second.

Matthew 2:11a

11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.

This caravan rolls into Bethlehem and they come to the house. And when they came to the house, they bowed down! 

They got on their face. They prostrated themselves. 

Do you ever get on your knees to worship Jesus?

Do you ever get on your face in worship to Jesus?

Do you ever lift your hands in worship to Jesus?

Are you moved physically?

Here is the Son of God and Son of Man who was sent to redeem us from our sins.  And this is something we should celebrate.

And you may say, “Well, I’m not expressive…”

Okay…maybe so.  But there is something special that you are missing out on when you aren’t expressing your adoration.  There is something that your soul is missing.  There’s a refreshment that is so vital that I want you to have.

Think about that and pray about that and try in your personal private worship being moved physically before our Lord.

What else do we see about Worship from the MAGI?

Worship is Costly…

  1. It’s Physical
  2. It’s Precious
  3. It’s Proclamation
  1. Worship is Costly…It’s Precious

Let’s read Matthew 2:11 again.

Matthew 2:11

11On 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.

When the Magi came to worship Jesus, they didn’t come empty handed.  They brought their best. 

I’m going to talk to you about the significance of each gift in my next section of my message today.  But stop for a moment and see that these men…these men of significance…these leaders…These were the best of the best of the best of their land…These men bowed and the brought.

It says, “…Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts…”

These treasures were literal boxes that stored valuable, precious things.  They brought forth PRECIOUS gifts from their treasure chests to declare the worth of our Lord.

In 2 Samuel, King David declared…

2 Samuel 2:24b

“…I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.”

Can I ask you something? 

Are you bringing your treasure into the House of the Lord as an act of Worship?

Are you bringing an offering that costs you nothing?

Worship is COSTLY. It’s precious. We bring treasures. We bring that which costs us something and give it in faith.

Why do we teach tithing here? 

Because…

  • 1. It’s biblical…the tithe was never invalidated.
  • 2. He is worthy of it. 
  • 3. Because its expensive…I take that which is precious to me, and I give it to our Lord, just as these MAGI Did.

The Magi show us that Jesus is worthy of our treasure!

Worship is Costly…It’s Physical…It’s Precious…and Lastly…

Worship is Costly…

  1. It’s Physical
  2. It’s Precious
  3. It’s Proclamation

Look at Matthew 2:11 once more with me.

Matthew 2:11

11On 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.

They came bearing gifts that had both practical and spiritual significance. The gifts were gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These gifts were practical in that the gold was probably used to sustain Mary and Joseph when they fled to Egypt. The frankincense and myrrh, which were resins could have been used for medicinal purposes and as fragrances.

But these gifts also had spiritual significance, and they actually Proclaim something about our Lord and the Old Testament offices of King, Priest and Savior.

William Barclay writes about these three gifts when he says…

William Barclay

“Even at the cradle of Christ [the gifts] foretold that he was to be the true King, the perfect High Priest, and in the end the supreme Saviour.”

So, let’s take a look at these gifts and their significance and seek to apply them.

1. Gold—Acknowledgement of Jesus as King

Throughout history gold has been considered the most valuable metal. It has always been a symbol of material value and wealth. And it has always been associated with royalty, with Kings.

Look again at the question these magi ask:

Matthew 2:1-2

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.”

Why were they here in the first place?  Because the star signified the King of the Jews.  The star in the heavens was for royalty – a king!

So, when they gave Jesus the gift of gold, they were honoring him as king.

If you have ever been to the Christmas program at Houston’s FBC, you probably recall the scene of the wise men. To me, it’s the most moving scene of that program. These Kings entered from the back and paraded toward the front, where Jesus was. They made their way, in grand fashion, to the stage. They approached the child as kings, adorned in ornate garb and followed by all of their royal court. One of the kings came center stage and his golden train was released in grand fashion. He was the epitome of an earthly king. But then, in one moment, he bowed down before Jesus. It was an incredible picture of this earthly king proclaiming, “you, Jesus, are the real King.” And I worship you.

Are you acknowledging Jesus as King this Christmas? Are you giving Him your loyalty and allegiance? The baby born in the manger is King. And He wants to rule and reign in your heart.

Let’s look at this second gift for a moment.

2. Frankincense—This points to His role as High Priest

Frankincense is an expensive, and beautiful smelling, incense that was used in the temple for worship. It was kept in a special chamber and on special occasions the high priest would sprinkle the perfume on the offering as a symbol of a person’s desire to please the Lord. As it would burn, it would smell great.

The gift of frankincense symbolizes Jesus’ role as our High Priest. The responsibility of the high priest in Jewish worship was to represent the people before God and to make atonement for the sins of the people.

Jesus is our High Priest. He is the mediator between man and God. And He has delivered us from the penalty and power of sin.

Hebrews 9:11-15

11 When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

Jesus stood before God on our behalf, offering His life as a payment for our sin. This declares us innocent before God, and, as a result, we are covered in His righteousness.

2 Corinthians 5:21

21 God made him who had no sin to be sinfor us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Jesus is our High Priest as He stood in our place to offer himself for our sins.

3. Myrrh—This Signifies His Role as Savior

Myrrh was a fragrance. It was a wound-healer because of its strong antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. But, unlike frankincense, which was used for worship, myrrh was used to prepare the body for burial.

Jesus is our King and our High Priest. But He is also our Savior. That’s why He came—to redeem us, to save us. His kingdom would not be established through political process. It would be established through His suffering, death, burial, and resurrection.

Isaiah 53 speaks of the suffering servant of the Lord.  We read this often at Easter services.

Isaiah 53:4-5

4 Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

One writer said it this way when talking about the birth of Christ…

If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator; If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist; If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist; If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer; But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.

Conclusion—

These wise men gave Jesus amazing gifts. They were meaningful and significant. They highlighted the truth that this child is King, Priest, and Savior. And the result is that we have been given the greatest gift of all.

We have a King. We have a Priest who is our mediator. We have a Savior who loves us so much that He would step out of heaven and come to earth and die on a tree so that we could have life. We have been given the greatest gift the world has ever known.

Understanding the Significance of God’s Gift to us, led Joseph Bayly to pen these words:

Praise God for Christmas

Praise Him for the incarnation,
for the word made flesh.


I will not sing of shepherds
watching flocks on frosty nights,
or angel choristers.


I will not sing of a stable bare in Bethlehem,
or lowing oxen,
wise men trailing star with gold,
frankincense, and myrrh.


Tonight I will sing praise to the Father
who stood on heaven’s threshold
and said farewell to his Son
as he stepped across the stars
to Bethlehem and Jerusalem.


And I will sing praise to the infinite, eternal Son,
who became most finite, a baby
who would one day be executed for my crime.

Praise him in the heavens,
Praise him in the stable,
Praise him in my heart.

Give an Invitation to Receive Christ as Savior:

If you are new and are not yet one who worships Jesus, your first act of worship this day can be to bow your knee to Him. Remember, Worship is Costly…it’s physical.  If you would but bow your knee and your heart to the Lord Jesus, you would be saved. 

Would you today…right where you are, get up from your seat and get on your knee?

Would you today…right where you are, prayer this prayer with me?

Lord Jesus, today, I bow my knee to you asking you to save me.  I confess my sins to you and trust you for my salvation. I believe you died for me and rose again and I ask you to come and live in my heart to offer me everlasting life. 

I submit my life to your leadership and follow you as my king! 

Thank you for saving me!

Amen!

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