Christmas Portraits: The Wise Men
1 Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men* from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking,
2 “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose,* and we have come to worship him.”
3 King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. 4 He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”
5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:
6 ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah,
are not least among the ruling cities* of Judah,
for a ruler will come from you
who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’* ”
7 Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. 8 Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”
9 After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was.
10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!
11 They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
12 When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.
ETS: The wise men demonstrated traits that should exemplify contemporary believers.
ESS: Contemporary believers should demonstrate the traits seen in the wise men who came to see Jesus.
OSS: Christians will commit to being totally committed to Christ.
PQ: What traits mark the life of a disciple of Christ?
1. A REFUSAL TO CONFINE SERVICE TO THE CONVENIENT
A. Following a path that requires risk, time, and personal investment
(Matthew 2:1-2). "Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during
the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from
eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 2 “Where is the
newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we
have come to worship him.”
1. The distance- between 500 and 1000 miles (depending on point of
origin- Messopotamia, Persia, or Sippa.) Such a trek through the
deserts and rugged terrain of the Middle East could have taken
approximately six to eight weeks depending upon prevailing
conditions along the way
B. Following a path that requires dealing with inconvenient
circumstances and unbelieving people (Matthew 2:3-8).
1. Herod - saw Jesus as a personal threat
"King Herod was deeply disturbed"
a- As he grew older, he became increasingly paranoid about
threats against his person and throne. He had numerous
sons, wives, and others close to him put to death because he
feared plots to overthrow him. After frequent disputes with
Caesar Augustus, the emperor uttered his famous pun that
he would rather be Herod’s pig (hys) than his son
2. The people in general-
"...as was everyone in Jerusalem."
a- Many people in Jerusalem were not ready to welcome Christ as
King--for that meant change for them personally.
C. Following a path that is revealed on-the-go
(Matthew 2:9). "After this interview the wise men went their way.
And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It
went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was."
2. A WILLINGNESS TO OFFER SACRIFICE THAT IS COSTLY
A. Sacrifice offered in the right attitude (Matthew 2:10). "When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!"
(2 Corinthians 9:6-7). "6 Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. 7 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”
B. Sacrifice of the best gifts available (Matthew 2:11). "They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh."
(Romans 12:1-2) "And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."
3. A DETERMINATION TO SURRENDER TO COMPLETE
(Matthew 2:12). "When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod."
A. Obedience that is open for divine direction (Matthew 2:12b).
B. Obedience that moves in trusting action (Matthew 2:12a).
(Luke 6:46). “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say?
1. When faced with faced with paths in serving Christ that involve personal risk, inconvenience, and involve the investment of my time, what will I do?
2. What will I do when serving Christ puts me in situations where I have to face people who may oppose me or try to get me to compromise God's directions?
3. Will I choose to follow Christ moment -by-moment and day- by-day, even though I can't see the path ahead--trusting Him?
4. Will I joyfully choose to give Jesus my best, because he has given me his best?
5. Will I choose to follow Christ, even though people may oppose me and the opinion of those in power want me to do otherwise?
 Craig Blomberg, Matthew, vol. 22, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 62.