Any comments on my sermon would be greatly appreciated. My normal “editor” is out of town. I have no idea if I’ll get talk to him at all in the next week. 😦 I sure do hope so, but even if I do get to talk to him, it won’t be about my sermon! I’m sorry it’s so hard to read. My outline just isn’t blog friendly.
Jesus came to save us all!
· Date preached: 1/6/08, Sebewaing
· RCL Epiphany 1A
· Text: Matthew 2:1-12 & Ephesians 3:4-12
· Subject: What is the significance of the Wise Men visiting baby Jesus?
· Complement: God was revealing His son to the nations.
· Exegetical Idea: Jesus came to save everyone.
· Homiletic Idea: Jesus came to save everyone.
· Purpose: Hearers will be reminded of Jesus’ saving grace meant for each of us and our neighbors.
· Type: Deductive, Expository

Songs:
o Ancient of Days
o We Want to See Jesus Lifted High
o Send the Light
o Shine, Jesus, Shine
o Shine on Us

Prayer
We Three Kings
Offering
Announcements

Read Matthew 2:1-12

I. Epiphany
A. Today’s scripture passage is summed up in this one word.
1 Epiphany is an “ah ha!” moment
2 It’s suddenly being shown something that makes everything else clear.
3 This was Epiphany for everyone.
4 This was God revealing Christ to the nations!
B. God revealed himself, through Christ, to the world.
1 He did this by bring more light into the world
a.) “A bright light shown”
i. star!
ii. Brighter than the rest
* I have here a Moravian star
* Called because created by Moravians originating in the 1830’s at the Moravian School in Niesky, Germany,
* most probably as a geometry lesson or project
* The Moravian or Advent Star recalls the Creator, Who said “Let the light shine in the darkness”
* it also recalls the messianic promise of God to Moses that “A Star shall arise out of Jacob”
* the Advent Star reminds us of the star followed by the 3 Wisemen
* and the Advent Star reminds us of the Risen Christ Who said “I am the bright and Morning Star”
* The many points point to the many nations in the world.
* Now the Star is widely accepted throughout Germany as an Advent and Christmas symbol.
b.) Jesus was a bright light to the world
i. He was a gift
ii. He was salvation
iii. He was for everyone

II. God’s Gift
A. God gave the gift of salvation through his only son.
1 The Jews knew through the prophets that a king was to come from Bethlehem.
a.) Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Eph’ra·thah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
b.) They expected a ruler to come from Bethlehem that would rise up and secure their future as a sovereign nation.
c.) They expected freedom from their rulers.
B. Still, the gift was unexpected
1 They got more than a king
a.) God gave them a savior.
b.) Jesus was not going to save them from their rulers, but rather save them from their own sin and the bondage that they had created for themselves in their numerous laws.
2 The gift wasn’t just for the Jews.
a.) Jesus came to save everyone, not just the Jews.
i. Ephesians 3:5-9
ii. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
b.) The Jews could not comprehend that. They still don’t.
i. Matthew Henry writes, “Those who live at the greatest distance from the means of grace often use most diligence, and learn to know the most of Christ and his salvation.”
ii. While the Jews felt they were close to God and knew Him well, the Wise Men were at a great distance from God.
iii. The Jewish shepherds came, but the wise men made a much bigger sacrifice of time and energy to come.
c.) The Wise Men signify every person who ever has lived and ever will live.
i. Salvation was meant for all of us
ii. Regardless of who we are or what we’ve done.
iii. That means that salvation is also for every person we know. We must spread that great news!

III. Let’s take a closer look at the Wise Men.
A. Gentiles (not Jews)
1 God makes it clear in the Bible that the Jews were his blessed people.
2 The Gentiles were anyone else on the planet that wasn’t a blessed Jew.
B. Magi
1 May have been successors
a.) of the wise men
b.) that Daniel was chief over in Daniel chapter 2.
2 May have been of the Median tribe,
a.) a priestly tribe of the Zoroastrian
b.) from the Persia area, now east asia.
c.) They median tribe primarily studied astrology
i. At that time astrology was considered a science, yet God still warns against it several times in the Bible:
* Deut. 18:9-14 – When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God. The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the LORD your God has not permitted you to do so.
Isaiah 47:13-14 – All the counsel you have received has only worn you out! Let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you. Surely they are like stubble; the fire will burn them up. They cannot even save themselves from the power of the flame. Here are no coals to warm anyone; here is no fire to sit by.
This is a challenge
God is saying here that this things cannot save anyone.
ii. Yet, if the wise men WERE astrologists, God obviously still used them, as we shall see.
iii. He is not in any way condoning the practice by using these men.
iv. Yet, if they were successors of those that Daniel was over, they could have known about just that one star through what Daniel told them.
3 Either way, they were learned men
a.) They studied books,
b.) prophecies and
c.) possibly the stars
C. The wise men did several things that we should also do.
1 Humbled themselves
a.) You may have noticed that people did not humble themselves to Jews very often.
i. Most of the time, Jews were slaves or people to put up with
ii. In general, they did not deserve any honor.
b.) Yet, as soon as the wise men saw the star, they started their journey in search of a Jewish king in order to worship him.
2 They diligently sought him out.
a.) I always wondered why the wise men stopped and asked Herod where the king was if they were being guided by the star.
i. After a closer inspection of these verses, it would seem (and most of the research I did agreed with this) that the star appeared in the sky when Jesus was born, but then was not there while they were traveling.
ii. They stopped to ask directions because they needed the information that the Jews had about the birthplace.
b.) They did not give up when the star disappeared.
i. In fact, the journey took them about 2 years!
ii. It would have been easy to give up, but they did not.
3 When the Wise Men left Herod, the star shone again and they rejoiced.
a.) Vs. 9 says “…and lo, the star, which they saw in the east went before them…”
b.) They rejoiced because they saw that God was guiding them.
c.) They knew they were going the right way.
d.) They knew they were close to meeting the new king.
4 The wise men disregarded the poor conditions that they found the king in.
a.) Jesus was most likely living in a small upper guest chamber.
i. Basically a room,
ii. like they had wanted when they first arrived in Bethlehem.
b.) They were not bothered by where the king lived because they knew he was king even if no one else believed yet.
5 The Wise Men worshipped Jesus
a.) They “fell down”
b.) They humbled themselves completely
c.) They gave Jesus great gifts worthy of a king.
i. Gold was known as a gift given to kings.
ii. Frankincense is used as an incense.
* Frankincense was frequently given to priests as a gift.
iii. Myrrh is also used for incense, but can also be dissolved in liquid to become a mild anesthetic.
* It was also used as perfume.
* It’s most common use was for embalming.
* It was given as a gift to prophets.
iv. As you can see, they gave gifts that were meaningful and useful.
* Jesus is our king, our high priest and the greatest prophet.
* The myrrh may also have been foretelling Jesus’ death on the cross.
* These would have also been provision from God for Mary, Joseph and Jesus’ escape to Egypt in the verses right after what I read.
last week FIL used the term providence and I wasn’t sure of it’s meaning
It means “care or preparation in advance; foresight.” These gifts show God’s providence in Jesus’ life and death.
v. These are all great gifts, but the wise men gave Jesus another gift – the gift of their hearts and lives.
* In humbling themselves, giving gifts and paying homage to Jesus, the wise men were giving themselves to Him.
* This is shown as they leave.
6 The wise men obeyed God
a.) God told them, in a dream, not to return to Herod
b.) He also told them to go home another way.
c.) We do not hear what happens to them after that, but I believe that is because they got away safely because they listened to God and obeyed Him. Their part in Jesus’ life was over, but ours isn’t.

IV. So, I ask you now,
A. Have you humbled yourself before Jesus, lately?
1 Most of us here have given our lives to God some time ago.
2 That doesn’t mean that we are done with our job.
3 There are still many people around us that need to know what we know.
B. Have you diligently sought God out?
1 Have you stopped to pray and ask God what you can do?
2 Have you talked to Him about what is happening in your life?
C. Have you rejoiced and praised God lately?
1 It’s easy to go through life only thinking about the bad things that are happening around us.
2 But what about the simple stuff? I thank God for my family, my friends, all of you.
3 I also thank Him for even simpler things like the grass, trees, flowers in bloom and, even snow as if falls so prettily to the ground.
D. Have you looked past the conditions others are in to let them know about Jesus?
1 This is hard for most people.
2 Most of us have at least one type of person that is really hard to be friendly towards.
3 But Jesus was friendly towards everyone. God loves everyone. In order to be truly Christ-like Christians, we must love everyone regardless of their situations or attitudes. We must rely on God to work through our best and be a glowing light in this dark world.
4 Jesus came to bring us all together and into his saving grace.
a.) Another interesting thing I read while preparing my sermon was that the star that guided the wise men was most likely the conjunction of several heavenly bodies.
i. It was most likely Jupiter, the constellation Aries and possibly other constellations lining up that caused the bright light in the sky.
ii. God used his creation to guide the wise men
iii. He also brought his creation together just as Jesus was going to do.
E. We must worship God with our whole selves, as the wise men did, if we are going to really be a light in the dark.
F. We must also obey God, to the best of our ability, to be that light.
1 When we feel led, by that still small voice, to help someone or even just to talk to someone, we must do it. You may be just the thing they need that day.
2 And if you here God speak in a loud, clear voice. You better get a move on! Whatever He’s asking of you must be important!

Let’s pray:

Songs
o O Come All Ye Faithful

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