Matthew 2:1-12 (NKJV)
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ’Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.’ When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: ’But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, ’Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.’ When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.”
This is the first Sunday after Christmas Day. In actuality we do not know exactly what day Christ was born, but we do celebrate it on December 25th. As we saw in the Christmas story, the birth manger was visited by shepherds and angels; AND it was visited by three “Wise Men” – the Magi. Now there is a lot we do not know about these three men – wait – we are not even sure they were all men. Women also often ruled in this day and time. So we have here a visit that is very, very mysterious.
Let’s see – were there only three? We do not have an inkling.
Did they come from the same area? Where did they come from? No clue – Pesia maybe? I just don’t know.
How long did it take them to arrive at the manger? We just don’t know.
Did they bring family and or servants with them? Sorry….
Did they really ride camels or other animals – donkeys/mules? Probably not, but don’t know.
Wikipedia tell us that “Magi (Latin plural of magus ; Ancient Greeks. And the Biblical focus of Wikipedia says , “The Magi, also referred to as the (Three) Wise Men or (Three) Kings, were in Christian tradition, a group of distinguished foreigners who visited Jesus after his birth “ And the Catholic Encyclopedia, “Magi (Plural of Latin magus; Greek magoi). The “wise men from the East” who came to adore Jesus in Bethlehem.
I guess we can conclude from resources that they were Greek or at least from the East? Questions continue.
These Magi just appear, give the gifts and then are gone. What a tribute to the birth of Christ regardless of the particulars.
Think about this. We are all “wise men and women.” We looked for a Savior, the Christ, and found Him. Some of us traveled just a short distance, and many of use travelled far and for long periods of time. But amazing and wonderful that we found that babe in the manger and continue to follow Him.
And the number of people who seek and find Christ is growing and growing. It is through the efforts of each one of us that this number grows. Christ said, 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28: 19 – 20
Now we don’t know many facts of those Magi from the Nativity, but knowing we are all Wise Men/Women, let’s check out some things we can learn from this story.
A Wise Man/Woman must have a faith.
They just asked Herod – and they seemed to have been all together at this point – where the child who was born to be King of the Jews was because they saw the star in the West. Now this would assume they were from the East (to see the star in the west).
So now we need to ask, why would they do this? What could they possibly get out seeing a baby and so far away. There was nothing in it for them, except a dangerous journey. The only answer is belief. When they asked where He was born – they already know through belief that He existed.
So, what they wanted to know is where He was. They KNEW He was born. Now they just needed to find the location.
As your adventure in following “the star” began did your family and friends laugh at you or think you had gone off the deep end? Can you imagine those close to the Magi, and what they wondered or asked:
“Are you going on a journey?” “Yes.” “Where are you going?” “We don’t know for sure.” “How far is it?” “Well we don’t know that either.” “ How long are you going to be gone?” “Well we’re not quite sure on that either.” “Boy for wise men you sure don’t know much do you?” (adapted from several Nativity story sources)
This kind of reminds us of Abraham when he followed God’s Word to leave his home or of Noah as he built that ark in the desert. And imagine what they said to Peter, Andrew, John and James as they walked off their fishing boats to follow Jesus.
“What are you crazy? Are you insane? Are you out of your minds? No not crazy – not insane – not out of their minds – men of faith.”
We must have faith; without it, there is no belief. It’s impossible to please God without faith.
Deuteronomy 7:9 (NIV) Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.
Hebrews 11:6 (NIV) – 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
I am going out on a limb, since hundreds of people around the world read this message, to say that we are all people of faith or people on that journey to become a person of faith. And as such, we are willing to face the challenges of walking that path and facing the unknown, the dangers, the pitfalls.
Here is a true story about a shoemaker.
“William Cary was a shoemaker when one day he heard of the millions of people in India who had not heard the Good News of Jesus Christ. He believed the great commission to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” He believed that that verse was speaking directly to him. So he volunteered to go to India but was told “Young man, sit down. When God wants to convert the heathen, He will do it without your help.” Cary went anyway – supporting himself. For seven years he worked without seeing a single convert – but by the end of his life he saw hundreds of churches and thousands of converts. Today he is known as the “Father of Modern Missions.” This man had great faith. He did not focus on the defeats, the ridicule, the danger. That is faith.
The Magi intended to WORSHIP.
These wise men came to see this King to give gifts and to worship. The gifts represented those presented to royalty – a gift for a King. Gold represents wealth; frankincense is a hardened sap used for a worship incense. Myrrh is a lovely perfume that was developed to anoint the dead to preserve them. I believe this is symbolic for the future sacrifice of Christ.
And this brings us to the point that part of worship is Sacrifice.
The wise men sacrificed greatly by taking a dangerous and difficult journey that took them from their homes and rule for quite a long time. And riding a camel is not comfortable (Have you ever gotten on one and been lifted up as it stood – very scarey and uncomfortable). All this to worship Him.
Remember what David said in 2 Samuel 24: 24 24 But the king (David) replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”
Romans 12;1 (NIV): Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
And in the NKJ translation – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
Regardless of the version you read, the Bible says it all – the greatest sacrifice of all is to give your “self” to God and you have – at least in part if not all.
You sacrificed yourself by getting ready for a journey – a journey to get more information and to worship. You have sacrificed your time by worshiping Him and coming on to this site. If you can, and if you do/did, you will have sacrificed wear and tear and gas for your cars to get to church. And you donated or tithed to the church
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But the greatest sacrifice we can give God is our heart and soul. As Don Moen sings, “God is Good – all the Time,” can we be good to God and mankind all the time? Are we willing to put ourselves “out” to be a follower of Christ? To fish for men? Does He have your heart?
Finally, let’s look at how the Magi and their CHANGE.
Matthew 2:12 (NIV) 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Hmmm – “Very Interesting!” After worshiping the new born babe as the Savior, they did not return or travel the same way they had travelled before. This is true for today and all through the past. Having been introduced and accepted God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we are never the same. We are CHANGED. We now travel another path
Here are some Old Testament examples also.
“Jacob wrestled with God and never walked the same the rest of his life. “
Isaiah stepped into the presence of God and proclaimed in the NIV version of Isaiah 6:5 5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” From reading and studying, it is quite clear that he was never the same again and did follow a new path.
Job questions God over and over again concerning his suffering and when God shows up Job says, “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. 5 I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more.” Job 40: 4-5. Job met God, stopped questioning and complaining, started listening, and became a changed man.”
The wise men were changed; we are changed. Everything is different. Our walk, our talk, our actions, our thoughts. We have accepted God into our hearts. Christ has become our savior.
The Wise Men, the Magi, were changed – all because of a little baby – a baby and a faith, a belief.
And you? Are you changed? Do you want to be changed? I urge you to find the Christ this Christmas season and bring Him into your heart. Then change the direction of your life – follow the Light.
Follow the path to salvation.
The wise men did it and so can you.
(If you are in need of prayer, contact us at the addresses below – http://thespiritualfamily.chatango.com or firstname.lastname@example.org )