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Bryan Clements - Are You Looking for Him

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Matthew 2:1-13

Do you ever have those moments when you can’t find something important?  Heading out the door and you can’t find your keys, your badge, your homework?  You start going back to what you know; where did you see it last, is it where it is supposed to be?  Then you get help.  Everyone in the family joins in.  Looking in the places that you have already looked.  Asking stupid questions.  Then after awhile they quit looking and you are the only one left still searching.  Does it frustrate you when you are the only one looking for something?  After awhile my mom would say don’t worry about it, it’ll turn up.  That didn’t help I wanted to find them now.

As we look at our passage this morning let’s join in the search.

Matthew 2:1-13 (NASB95)
1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
2 “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

This blows our Hollywood image of Christmas out of the water.  “After Jesus was born…” The magi were not there at the manger scene on the night of Jesus’ birth.  It makes for a great nativity scene but it is not right.  We also know this from vs 11. The word child here signifies a young child not a baby. So, sometime after the birth these magi arrive in Jerusalem assuming that the people there already knew about the birth.  They had the signs, the prophecies, the scholars who knew the Scripture.  The problem is they were not looking! Or at least they were growing weary of looking. They hadn’t heard from God in awhile.

But the magi were?  How many? It doesn’t say.  Tradition says 3 and even gives them names.  What we do know is that Magi - Wise men. Magi - philosophers, astronomers, philosophers, experts in medicine, they were well rounded educated men. 

They studied the stars. These were not necessarily religious men, they were educated men.  But they saw this star appear.  There was an ancient belief that a star would appear when a king was born.  So they go to work trying to figure what this star signifies.  In the Jewish Scriptures they find their answers.

They find a Prophecy from the book of Numbers

Numbers 24:17-19 (NASB95)
17 “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; A star shall come forth from Jacob, A scepter shall rise from Israel, And shall crush through the forehead of Moab, And tear down all the sons of Sheth.
18 “Edom shall be a possession, Seir, its enemies, also will be a possession, While Israel performs valiantly.
19 “One from Jacob shall have dominion, And will destroy the remnant from the city.”

They did their research and concluded that they were looking for the promised one of Israel;  they were looking for the Christ child.  If you are looking for the king of the Jews you would go to where the Jews are because you assume that they are looking also.


3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

They ask their question assuming everyone knows the answer and Matthew says that the king and the people were troubled. 

This word troubled - has a much deeper meaning than just being bothered.  same word as in the boat when Jesus was coming to them across the water (terrified), when an angel appears ( What is the first thing they always say? Do not be afraid!),

Get the picture?  Herod is going about his business when this caravan of wise men show up asking where the King of the Jews is? Now if you are the king, especially Herod, that is the last thing that you want to hear. 

In that culture when a king was replaced, the old king was typically put to death along with any of his relatives.  And Herod had good reason to worry.

He was a cruel and crafty man who permitted no one, not even his own family, to interfere with his rule or prevent the satisfying of his evil desires. A ruthless murderer, he had his own wife and her two brothers slain because he suspected them of treason. He was married at least nine times in order to fulfill his desires and strengthen his political ties. He had his own sons killed because he didn’t trust them.  One writer during Herod’s time put it this way. He said, “You are better off being Herod’s sow, his pig, than you are being his son.”  You have a better chance for survival. Uios vs uis.

Herod also had reason for concern because he was not the legitimate king.  Herod was an Edomite. He wasn’t from the line of David.  He wasn’t even a descendant of Jacob.  He was a descendant of Esau.  The wisemen were looking for the one who was “born king”, the true king of the Jews and Herod was not born of the royal family. And now here are these educated men asking where the true heir to the throne was. If there was a true born king his job was in jeopardy.   That should have stoked his paranoia.

So Herod pulls his best scholars in: Let’s read starting in vs 4.


4 Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.
5 They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:
6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; For out of you shall come forth a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ”
7 Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared.
8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.”

They went to Jerusalem because they assumed that is where the King of the Jews would be, but the prophecies said he would be born in Bethlehem. (Micah 5.2)  The scholars knew this they just weren’t looking for Him.

These priests knew the Scriptures and even pointed others to the Saviour.  They told Herod where the Scriptures said the Messiah would be born, but they would not go to worship Him themselves!

They were less than five miles from the very Son of God, yet they did not go to see Him! From Persia (modern day Iran) it is right at 1000 miles to Jerusalem.  The Gentiles sought Him out and found Him, but the Jews did not.

Herod says that he wants to come and worship the king.  We know better that.

Herod sought a rival.

The wisemen sought the king that they would bow down to.

It is not until we deny ourselves and bow down to the king that we can truly worship Him.  We can know the Scriptures, study them, and even come to church, but until we seek Him and bow down we haven’t found Him.

9 After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was.
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
11 After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Vs 9  From Jerusalem to Bethlehem is Southwest.  Stars naturally travel from east to west, they don’t move from North to Southwest, but this one did.  And it led them to the child.

Could it be that the star that led them to that house was the Shekinah glory of God;  that same that glory led the children of Israel through the wilderness in the form of a pillar of fire and a cloud.  Maybe that is what they saw in the east.  There are lots of other theories (conjunction of the planets, comet, a supernova) but none of those work out.

Do you see their reaction to sighting the star?  They rejoiced!  These Gentiles rejoiced.  What was Israel doing? Should have been rejoicing. They should have wanted to go with the magi and check it out.  Who knows?    What we do know is that God doesn’t limit his revelation to only believers.  Matthew paints a picture of what was to come;  Gentiles from every nation coming to worship the Christ.  Matthew opens his gospel with this picture and closes it with a similar picture; the disciples going out to all the nations making disciples. 

They came to the house.  Still in Bethlehem.  Fell to the ground and worshipped. This is how you worship a king.  We know the gifts that they brought.  (Baby shower)

Gold -              king, most precious

Frankincense   priest would offer to God

Myrrh                      death (this would be alarming) death gifts at your baby shower

       

Nevertheless these were valuable gifts and they could also have been used to fund the trip to Egypt.  We don’t think about it very often but Joseph and Mary were a young couple with a child.  I don’t know about you but when we were newly married we couldn’t afford to travel, but Joseph and Mary were provided for so they fled to Egypt to escape from Herod.

We see this in vss 12 & 13.


12 And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.
13 Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord (I don’t think you ever get used to this) appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.”

Let’s sum this up this morning.

The wisemen (Gentiles) were looking for Jesus.

Herod was looking for Jesus.

And the one group of people who should have been looking for Him were not.

·       The magi were seeking the King;

·       Herod was opposing the King; and

·       the Jewish priests were ignoring the King.

Even though the Jewish People weren’t looking for the King they were waiting for Him – were waiting for God’s anointed.  He’ll turn up.  Wasn’t that the attitude that we always developed after we got tired of looking?  The keys will turn up.  The remote will turn up. Just wait, but don’t waste anymore time looking.  If it is important you don’t quit, you look even harder.

 The Jews knew what was promised to them, they knew the Scriptures, they had just quit looking.

Do you know what God has promised you?

He promises us a savior.

Matthew 1:21 (NASB95)
21 “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

He promises forgiveness.  Matthew 6:14 (NASB95)
14 “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

He promises us a future reward:  Matthew 5:11-12 (NASB95)
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

He promises:

·       New life

·       Rest

·       Answers to our prayers

·       Guidance and Comfort from the Holy Spirit

·       He promises resurrection, paradise and eternal life..

·       Treasure in Heaven

All of these promises give us hope because we know that God is true to his word.  This is what makes Christmas so special.  It is the remembrance of hope based in Jesus Christ.  Christmas is special because it is the source of hope in a dark, lost world. 

We have the promise of forgiveness, salvation and an eternity with Jesus Christ. 

We have the same opportunity that the shepherds, the wise men, and even Herod had. 

We have the opportunity to have an encounter with the living Christ. 

We have the same choice to make. Do we turn our back on him like Herod did or do we choose to come and worship him and praise God for the gift of his son?

The shepherds did it.  The Wise men did it.  We are still doing it today.  If you have met this Jesus and had this encounter, then you know what I am talking about.  The only reaction that you can have is to worship him.

If you haven’t experienced this, Christmas is still coming.  You can have it today.

Right now.  You can come this morning and experience the true meaning of Christmas. 

When you leave here this morning I want to challenge you to go in the same manner of those who saw the Christ child.  Go and tell people what you have experienced, what you have seen.  Tell people about Jesus.  That is what they did and that is what we should do.

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