Wise Men

Scripture: Matthew 2: 1-12


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, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose,] and we have come to worship him.

King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. 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:

‘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.’]

Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. 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.

Introduction

As you know, I am an incurable list maker. Today, I have a list of things that WISE MEN DO and they come right from the scripture. It is not my list and that is what makes it worth sharing.

  • WISE MEN SEEK JESUS:
    “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? [V.2] These wise men are probably students of Daniel. They are highly intelligent, scholarly men. No doubt men of great wealth and they are GENTILES. Are you not glad that Jesus came to save the world–rich or poor, shepherd or kings, Jews and Gentiles, the elites and the lowly.
  • WISE MEN ACKNOWLEDGE JESUS AS KING
    “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose,and we have come to worship him.” [V.2] Herod was a cruel man who had wives and children [his own] executed. Herod was an Idumaean which means he was only half Jew. The Idumaeans were descendants of Esau the hedonist, but he was familiar with prophecy, that the Jews were waiting on a DAVID LIKE king to appear and deliver them from their oppressors. Herod felt threatened. The WISE MEN are Gentiles and they are seeking to worship the King of the Jews yet the Jews show little or no interest in what the WISE MEN have to say. Jesus is born less than 6 miles from where they are standing and they never check it out: UNBELIEVABLE! What gross pride and indifference!
  • WISE MEN CELEBRATE JESUS:
    When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! 
    [V.10] The AV reads, “They rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” Exceeding Joy is more than we can contain–it overflowing joy. The Greek word for GREAT is Mega and refers to weight and size. The Williams Translation reads…”They were thrilled with ecstatic joy.” I seen a picture of this exceeding great joy, ecstatic joy a few weeks ago when Alabama came from behind and won the SEC championship game. The entire room erupted with ecstatic joy.
  • WISE MEN WORSHIP JESUS
    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.  [V.11] Their bowing was an acknowledgement that Jesus {Child} was greater, that He indeed was their Sovereign, their king. But bowing doesn’t authenticate worship, giving does! As an act of worship, they presented their gifts: Gold [king], frankincense [priest] and myrrh [savior].
  • WISE MEN SEEK TO PLEASE GOD RATHER THAN MEN
    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.  [V.12] Herod is a type of the devil: Herod was a liar and a murderer just like Satan. Satan is the prince of this world system, he wants you to bow to him, not Jesus. He loathes Jesus. He hates Jesus with all of his being because Jesus is the center piece of heaven and Satan became jealous. He wants to be the center. There is a huge difference between the prince of this world and the PRINCE OF PEACE. Jesus loves you: Satan only wants to use you to get at Jesus. Don’t let him con you into bowing to this world.
Advertisements

Mary

Scripture: Luke 1:26-38

New Living Translation

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!

29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.33 And he will reign over Israel[f] forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month.37 For the word of God will never fail.[g]

38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her. 

Christian Standard Bible

26 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. 30 Then the angel told her: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end.”

34 Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not had sexual relations with a man? ”

35 The angel replied to her: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 And consider your relative Elizabeth ​— ​even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her. — Luke 1:26-38 (CSB)

INTRODUCTION

We have two things to consider this morning: One is our celebration of the first advent–Christmas and the second is this incredible passage of scripture that we just read. I am a sequenctial learner which means I make a lot of list and as I studies and pondered this passage, I saw a list of things about Mary that I want to talk about this morning.

First of all….

I. MARY IS HIGHLY FAVORED [V.28]

Just what does this mean, “You are highly favored or you have found favor with God?” Let me tell you first of all what it does not mean: it does not mean that Mary is the source of GRACE; it means that she was a recepient of grace. Is this a special favor? Sure, no doubt about it. God choose Mary to be the Mother of Jesus. This is an honor that no other human will ever know. But let me remind you that although Jesus brought Mary incredible JOY, He also brought her incredible sorrow. Being the mother of Jesus was not an easy thing: it required a special grace. Our Catholic friends have misinterpreted this passage. They believer that Mary is the source of grace, the despencer of grace. They have elevated Mary to a divine status but Mary was as human as you or I. I find it very interesting that Mary was a descendant of Aaron, a resident of Nazareth [a despised town or village] and poor. No Jewish scholar would have chosen Mary but God choose her to confound the wise.

The scripture makes it abundantly clear that although Mary, a mere human like you and I, would give birth to a son who would not be merely human. Oh, He would be fully human but not merely human. The son that she would give birth to would be the Son of the Most High, the Son of God. Mary was not God but she would give birth to His Son. She would name Him Jesus because He would be a Savior. God’s way of incarnating His son was through the normal process of maturation in the womb of a woman. Her son would be a KING, and not just a king but the KING of kings, an eternal king. Mary would be inferior to her Son from day one. Jesus is God: He is the one we worship, not Mary. Mary we love, Mary we admire, Mary we honor as no other, Mary we long to see and talk with in heaven but we do not worship Mary. She recieved God’s grace just as we did.

II. MARY WAS DEEPLY TROUBLED [V.29]

The word means perplexed, confused, shocked or agitated. Mary did not expect a heavenly visitor. An angel showing up in your bedroom would shock you, would it not! Everything he said to Mary was a revelation of new things. She had no idea what God was up to and no prior warning that she would be central to His plan of redemption. I don’t blame her for being shocked, bewildered and afraid. Again, this is evidence that Mary was as human as you or I. If an angel showed up at my house and told me that out of 7 billion people on earth, God had chosen me to be a recipient of a special favor, I would be more than shocked.

III. MARY IS GREATLY COMFORTED [V.30]

Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Another way of saying this is…”Don’t be afraid Mary, God has a special favor He wants you to do because He finds you very special Himself. He has favored you above all women. I also like what Gabriel said in the greeting, “Greeting, favored one, the LORD is with you.” In there anything more comforting than the LORD’s presence!

IV. MARY WAS DIVINELY OVERSHADOWED [V.35]

When Gab told Mary that she was going to have a son, she knew there was a problem: she was a virgin. So she wanted to know how she could give birth to a son without knowing a man. Gab said, “That’s simple, God will take care of it…you will be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and the Spirit will cause you to concieve.” God is going to be the Father of your Son. Basically, he is telling Mary…”Just relax, you don’t have to do anything…God is going to take care of it.” Everything about this birth and life will be a miracle. It is a God thing.

V. MARY IS SUBLIMELY SUBMISSIVE [V.38]

I absolutely love verse 38, “I am your servant, be it unto me according to your word.” You got to love Mary’s attitude. She had a servant’s heart. Mystified and bewildered, she said, “OK LORD, I don’t fully understand all that is going on but I submit to your will, You do whatever You think is best.” I am going to share a little secret: there are two ways to live life–Your way and God’s way. You may think I am crazy but I promise you that life will be sweeter and much more meaningful if you submit to HIS way and stop trying to live life your way. I dare you to try it!

VI. MARY IS INCREDIBLY HUMBLE [V.48]

Many years ago, some 30 or so, we had a lady who attended the church where we served and she was constantly bragging on her children. She not only exalted her children over other children, she taught them that they were better than others. One of her children tested to be in the gifted class and somehow she worked that fact into every conversation. Some of you may get upset with me but I’m going to tell you to truth whether you like it or not: Your children are not exceptional, they are merely children. They aren’t any better than my children or anyone else’s children. Do not teach children that they are better than others. You will create a social misfit if you are not careful. With that said, MARY HAD A PERFECT CHILD. You have to admit, that would be hard to handle. Can you imagine a group of the Nazareth women talking about their children. Suppose Mary is conversing with the Carpenter’s wives and one of them says, “My son drove his first nail this week.” Then Mary interupts, “That’s nothing, Joseph can make a miscut on a plank and all he has to do is hand it to Jesus and when he hands it back, it is the perfect length.” Can you imagine how tempted you would be to brag if you had a perfect child. Mary doesn’t brag. She treasures her time with Jesus but she doesn’t brag. By the way, she gave birth to at least 6 more children, maybe more.

VII. MARY WAS A BELIEVER [John 2:5, “Do whatever He says.”]

Jesus brothers did not believe in HIM but His mother did. His brothers were converted later but Mary believed from day one. ARE YOU A BELIEVER?

 

Joseph

Scripture: Matthew 1:18-21 {NLT}

18 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 
19 Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. 
20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 
21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Introduction

This is the first of four Christmas sermons on Christmas characters and today we begin with Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus. I know, you have never heard a sermon on Joseph but LORD willing, you will hear one today. There are three things I want to say about Joseph.
I. JOSEPH WAS A GOOD MAN
  • This is rare praise: only four men are referred to as being good men in the N.T…. Joseph, Jesus, Barnabas and Applles.
  • The KJV translates it just: it can be translated righteous, law abiding, upright,  virtuous.
  • It describes a man who does what he ought. A man who makes right decisions
  • Joseph illustrates his goodness in not wishing to embarrass Mary.

II. HE WAS A MEEK MAN or A GENTLEMAN

  • Joseph is not flashy. He is humble, meek and quiet. He never speaks. When Jesus stayed at the temple and Mary and Joseph go back looking for Jesus, Mary does the talking.
  • Not a single word of Joseph’s is quoted in the NT.
  • He is the kind of guy who does his job and expects no praise.
  • Joseph was content to work in the background. He was happy playing second fiddle.
  • This puts him in a very small group of great men who stood in the shadows: John the Baptist, Barnabas, Jonathan. Had the humility necessary to be a supporter, an encourager instead of being the star in the spotlight.

III. HE WAS AN OBEDIENT MAN [Our heavenly Father loves obedience]

  • Every time we see Joseph in scripture: he is obeying
  • Matthew 1:24-25–When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. 
     But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.
  • Matthew 2:13-15 After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod’s death.
  • Matthew 2:19-22 When Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt. “Get up!” the angel said. “Take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead.” So Joseph got up and returned to the land of Israel with Jesus and his mother. But when he learned that the new ruler of Judea was Herod’s son Archelaus, he was afraid to go there. Then, after being warned in a dream, he left for the region of Galilee.

Joseph is always obeying.

Till He Appeared

SCRIPTURE

Matthew 2:1-11

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, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw His star as it rose, and we have come to worship Him.” King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:

‘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.’”

Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. 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!” 

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. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! 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.

The beloved Christmas Carol, O Holy Night, was written by Placide Cappeau (October 25, 1808 – August 8, 1877). He was a French poet and wine merchant. It was later put to music by Adolphe Adam. A local clergyman ask Cappeau to write a poem for Christmas. Even after the poem was set to music, it was rejected by the church and did not become popular until years later.

Today, I want to take the time to read this great poem and then we will listen to it in song and perhaps hear some things we have never heard before.

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining, It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth. Long lay the world in sin and error pining, Till He appear’d and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices! O night divine, O night when Christ was born…

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming, With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand. So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming, Here come the wise men from the Orient land. The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger; In all our trials born to be our friend. He knows our need, to our weaknesses no stranger, Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother; And in His name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy name. Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever…

There is one phrase I want you to listen for, “Long lay the world in sin and error pinning, Till He appeared and the soul felt it’s worth.”

{Play Josh Groban’S version with scenes from the NATIVITY}

Someone was interviewing a Seminary graduate and they ask him, “If we call you as our pastor, what would be your purpose?”  Without a moments hesitation, he said, “To change the world.”Yes,” said the interviewer, “ultimately that is our goal but what is your immediate goal?” He said, “To change the world.”

Actually, this should be every believer’s purpose.

Getting back to O Holy Night and that second line“Long lay the world in sin and error pinning.” We don’t use the word pinning any more but it was word that was used when I was young…we referred to a person pinning away. It simply means, that a person has lost hope and is slowly dying. It may be due to grief, sickness, an unrequited love. It is basically a state of hopelessness. Now, lets put the entire phrase together…Long lay the world in sin and error pinning, Till HE appeared and the soul felt its worth.

  • We were stumbling in darkness–until He appeared.
  • We were lost, like sheep without a shepherd–until He appeared.
  • We had no hope–until He appeared.
  • We had no joy or peace–until He appeared.
  • We had no freedom–until He appeared.
  • We had no Christmas–until He appeared.
  • We had no Easter–until He appeared.
  • We had no ministries of mercy–until He appeared.

Jesus changed everything and continues to change lives today. But whereas Shepherds and Wise Men celebrated His birth: Herod tried to kill him and the Jewish religious leaders did not even pursue the lead. They were not even curious about this new born King of the Jews. Later, they would reject Jesus all together.

Why so much hatred for Jesus? I think the answer is found in John 3… “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.

CONCLUSION

Great story in Our Daily Bread last Wednesday. A p0liceman stopped a woman because her child was not in the required child’s seat. Legally, he could have written her a ticket but that was the last thing she needed. Instead, he asked her to meet him at a department store where he bought her a child’s booster seat. The mother was going through a difficult time and could not afford a seat. Although she legally deserved a fine, she got a free gift instead. An act of kindness from a policeman.

That’s us folks, we deserve a fine, a penalty, punishment but because of God’s mercy we got a gift, the greatest gift–Salvation through the LORD Jesus Christ. Let Jesus change you world this Christmas.