walk in the word
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the East arrived in Jerusalem saying, “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.” Matthew 2:1
Merry Christmas, everyone! On the broadcast these last weeks we’ve been in a series called Look Who’s Coming to Christmas. Through Simeon, we saw Jesus the promise, and determined to wait for Him. Through the shepherds, we saw Jesus the answer, and determined afresh to find Him. Mary taught us that Jesus is the Lord of lords and that we should surrender to Him. Today, through the wise men, we will see Jesus the King of kings, and be committed afresh to worship Him.
No people in the Christmas story have more confusion surrounding them than these wise men. I think the biggest reason is that Christmas carol we sing. I bet you know it. “We three kings of Orient are . . .” Well, that whole thing is wrong.
First of all, there weren’t three kings, but three gifts. We have no idea how many people came. Secondly, they weren’t kings, but part of the priestly ruling group that was greatly respected in their Greco/Roman world. And they weren’t from the Orient, but probably from the areas of modern-day Iran or Turkey—somewhere nine hundred miles away.
“These guys lived over two thousand years ago; why should we keep talking about them?” The wise men are to be respected because they overcame some very significant barriers in getting to Christ—barriers that you have to overcome if you’re going to really come to know Christ.
First,the guys overcame cultural barriers to get to Jesus. Matthew 2:2 says that they made this journey because they saw a star and followed it. Numbers 24:17 had prophesied, “A star shall come forth from Jacob and the scepter shall rise in Israel.” How easy it would have been for them to have said, “Well, Jesus is only for Jewish people; He’s not for us.” If you’re ever going to find Christ, you are going to have to overcome cultural barriers. Many people today minimize Christ and say that He is just an option, like on a car. “Do you have power windows? Do you have air conditioning? Jesus is something you can add if you want to, but He’s not essential. He’s OK for some, but maybe not for me.” I know many people believe this.
If you would embrace Christ for yourself and know the forgiveness of your sins and the assurance of eternal life, you’re going to have to overcome our culture’s barriers that proclaim many ways to God. Jesus taught the very opposite. The wise men overcame those cultural barriers for sure.
Second, they overcame convenience barriers. For over nine hundred miles these guys traveled by camel and on foot around a desert. It might as well have been nine thousand miles. Some would suggest that it took as much as a year’s travel time. It wasn’t convenient for them to get to the Savior.
Maybe when you first heard the good news about Jesus Christ it seemed a long way to go, too. If you only worship Christ once or twice a year when it is convenient for you, you will never truly find Him.
Lastly, they overcome barriers of criticism. Everyone doesn’t want Christ. It was the same when Christ came into the world.“When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled and all Jerusalem with him” (Matthew 2:3).
Now Herod was a ruthless, godless leader. He executed anyone who opposed him, including his wife, three sons, and mother-in-law. In fact, knowing that very few people would mourn his death, he decreed that when he died, one person from every family was also to be killed so that there would be grieving going even when no one mourned his passing. Imagine then when the wise men showed up at the palace and said to him, “We’re looking for the King.” He’s like, “You’re looking at him!” “No, no. We’ve followed this star for nine hundred miles that would take us to the King. So we want to know where that King is.” “If you say that again, I’m going to kill you.” If these guys were wise at all I’m sure they just kind of backed away.
In fact, “When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became enraged and slew all the male children in Bethlehem from two years old and under according to the time which he had determined from them” (Matthew 2:16). That’s when Mary and Joseph took Jesus and ran to Egypt.
The wise men had to disregard their fear and criticism not only from Herod but from all the people in Jerusalem (Matthew 2:2). When you decide to embrace Jesus Christ as your Savior by faith, you’re also going to have to overcome people’s harsh criticism.
It’s not easy to follow Christ. But to follow Him, we find in Him life eternal and the forgiveness of sins and fulfillment and hope. How could I not proclaim to you the urgency of deciding today about this God who became man, lived a sinless life, died for your sins, and rose from the dead? Let me ask you, do you know Him personally?
This could be an eternal moment for you. Can you look to a time in your life when you turned from your sin and embraced Christ by faith as the only basis for your forgiveness? Have you ever stepped off the broad road of “many ways to God” and cultural do-good-ism and said, “Nothing in my hands I bring, only to Your cross I cling”?
If not, you could be sure right now. Pray from your heart, “Lord, I know I’m a sinner. I believe that Jesus is God’s Son who came into the world to die for me so that I could be forgiven. I believe that He rose from the dead to prove that He is God. Jesus, I turn to You by faith and I embrace You as the only basis and hope for my forgiveness. Come into my life, Lord. Forgive my sins. Cleanse my life. Help me to follow You the rest of my life. I pray in Your name. Amen.”
That is the real message of Christmas. Jesus is the promise fulfilled, the question answered, the Lord of our lives, the King of all kings. Do you want this to be your best Christmas yet? Worship Him in joyful surrender.
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