Great and Terrible Responses to the Birth of Christ Part 2

Matthew 2:7–12

Posted by Dan Jarms on December 17, 2023
Great and Terrible Responses  to the Birth of Christ Part 2
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Daniel 7:13-14

  1. Rejoice with Great Joy (Matthew 2:7-10)
  2. Humbly Worship (Matthew 2:11a )
  3. Give Generously (Matthew 2:11-12)

Main idea: The wise rejoice and humbly worship Christ the eternal king

  • Automated Transcription
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    Well, good morning faith Bible Church. All right, we are going to turn to a familiar and precious passage we looked at it to start with last week, Matthew chapter two. And it is the story of the wise men who journey to see the infant or the little boy Jesus. And I'm going to be reading one through 12. The Sermon will focus on seven through 12. And as we read this very familiar passage, we should be asking a key question, what's driving them? What's driving the Wiseman? What's driving Herod? And what's driving the religious leaders, because each are given the same revelation? The same information rather, but one becomes Matthew's model for response. So I want you to think about that, as I read that whole account, stand with me for the reading of God's Word. I'm going to read Matthew two, one through 12. Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him. When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him, and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people. He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him in Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet, and you owe Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah. For from you shall come a ruler, who will shepherd my people, Israel. They inherit some in the Weizmann secretly ascertain from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem saying, Go search diligently for the child, when you have found him bring me word that I too, may come and worship him. After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. Going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, they fell down and worshipped him than opening their treasures. They offered him gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country, by another way. This is the word of the Lord. Our God, we do give you thanks that you speak to us still today through Your Word. And Holy Spirit, thank you for inspiring Matthew. And now awaken our hearts to see the glory of God in the person of Christ. We thank You that You have come, Lord Jesus, we would pray that we would be these wise men, further seeking you to know you and love you. And then, to continue to proclaim you. Father, we do pray for our city that needs the light of the gospel as any time it's ever needed it. We would pray for our families. We pray for our own distractible selves. With much going on, helping will be centered on the worship of Jesus. Pray for churches across our particular I pray for miles Rody at redemption church on second in Division. At the heart of Spokane is homeless crisis. We pray for miles and for that church as they are faithful witnesses and faithful laborers there to continue to strengthen them and encourage them and give them joy and we would pray through the proclamation of the gospel that you would deliver and liberate those in a voluntary enslavement to drugs and alcohol and assorted selfishness free them through the power of the gospel Any way you want us to speak and serve, free up our hearts and time as well. God that is a prayer we could look around our city around our world. I think of Scott Maxwell's who's with us right now coming to visit and get ready to get the Rocio sent off continue to empower that ministry and Frank's ministry as they're taking this news of the incarnate, crucified, resurrected and risen Lord, to Papua New Guinea, continue to empower that mission to now give us eyes to see hearts to listen attentiveness to not go away like Herod or indifferent religious leaders, but to go away changed as worshippers Christ's name, Amen. You may be seated. Well in in the narrative, the Weizmann are seeking a Messiah to worship. Herod is seeking Jesus to destroy, and the religious leaders are doing nothing. The experts in the Scriptures. And it certainly provides tension for the story. I mean, every good story has its tension. But it also gives you one of three ways to leave the room today. You can seek Him as ruler of your heart. You can reject Him as ruler of your heart because you want to rule your own heart where you can do nothing. What's driving you? What's driving you? First let's let's ask what's driving Matthew? Let's ask what's driving Matthew and what's driving the Wiseman? Matthew wrote his gospel with one aim and that is to present the good news that God's promised Messiah has come and to persuade you to leave your old life behind and worship him. At the end of the book, it is to go and proclaim that news. That's his aim. And this is what the wise men do, literally. Matthew makes it clear that Jesus has the right pedigree. He's in the genealogy. Jesus is heir of David and heir of Abraham, he has the right pedigree. Abraham was promised an heir that would bless the nation's David who was an air of Abraham was promised and air himself would bless the nations through his just and peaceful rule. And this Messiah would reconcile God and sinners, providing full forgiveness. That's where we would be if we were working through chapter one. The wise men clearly had access to these kinds of truths. Hundreds of 1000s of Jews had lived outside of Israel in exile under the discipline and chastisement of God. In Matthew's account, he he links it to this thing called the deportation where God disciplined his people for their idolatry and unfaithfulness. And yet, although they were disciplined, they were not outside God's promises. God's promises were still true. The chief Jew in the story of the deportation and exile is the prophet Daniel. Daniel was chief over all the wise men in Babylon. He was set there by Nebuchadnezzar, making a lasting impact and numerous prophets just before him, during his time and just after his time, announced the coming of a king of kings. And we wanted just one prophecy, one scripture to make the wise man's journey worth it. I might pick Daniel 713 through 14 Daniel says this I saw in the night visions and behold, with the clouds of heaven, there came one like a Son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples Nations languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. God had condescended to the wise men through a Star

    and it's obvious that when they see the star, these astrologer Wiseman, politician, Senators wrap those all together, you get a picture of them. It's obvious to them that they're not looking for a mere son of Herod or a, a mere Petit Jewish aristocrat. No, they are looking for the King of Kings of all nations, who would establish a reign in which all nations would come and worship Him. They went to Jerusalem because Jerusalem is the religious and political capital, the capital of Israel. And when they arrive in Jerusalem, and they arrive in Jerusalem, Jerusalem is not rejoicing at the nose. They're troubled. Herod is troubled. There is a pretender to the throne, so to speak, Israel is troubled because everybody knows that Herod annihilates his enemies. They don't come to our rejoicing city but a troubled city, which has to be troubling. And we find out right away that there are more scriptural confirmations, the scribes of the people are called by Herod and where's he to be born. And there is a quote from Micah five, two through four referring to an eternal God being born into the world as chief ruler of Israel. And so Matthew's aim has been and continues to be in these opening sections to call every listener to respond like the Gentile rulers of another nation. Ready to worship. Matthews aim is to call us to take to heart these responses. To drive your decision, walk out, do nothing with doubts walk out angry because the king is messing with your throne and your kingdom and you don't want it or to be like the wise men and worship. As we take part two of this, we're going to take a look at what the wise men do. And three parts we're going to read, see them rejoice, we're gonna see them worship, we're gonna see them give. Let's see how Matthew unfolds the story with us first, rejoicing exceedingly in this call to us to rejoice exceedingly, because God has revealed his son through sign in Scripture. That he's calling all of us not the immediate context. The wise man, if we're looking from what we looked at last week, the Weizmann come looking for the King of the Jews, that's first to the come to Herod the king, and Jerusalem to look for the King of the Jews. When Herod wants to figure out who this is, he goes to the scribes of the people and to the chief priests and says, Where's the Christ to be born? So very clearly, King of the Jews and Christ to the wise men to Herod are the same. The Christ is a king of divine origin, testified to by a supernatural sign in the in the stars of the sky, a star and they've come to worship. Herod asks, they get the answer, Bethlehem and Herod plays along with the Jews. He plays along with the Jews and the Wiseman to hatch a plan to destroy an upstart rival at least to destroy an idea in people's minds. And he needs to answer three questions. Where's he going to be born? How old is he? And where could I find him to destroy him? This is what Herod wants to know. For seven says, inherit some in the Weizmann secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. Notice that it's secretly Herod trust no one. So he's giving a special mission to these wise men and he speaks as if he's a fellow worshiper with them. And notice that he's built a backup plan in case the Wiseman don't find the boy at least I know how old he is, at least we know the city. And we're going to see how he unleashes Plan B next week. But you would think that a supernatural sign the testimony of Scripture and Wiseman from the east would be enough to convince Herod that he's dealing with God. Not just a mere human rival and not a mere rock. Evil Empire inherit does what's been done since Genesis four with Cain and Abel. When Abel, please God and Cain didn't. Cain grew jealous and furious. God warned him about it. And yet he suppressed the truth and murdered his brother. It is the fundamental flaw of human nature, suppressing the truth, to prop up a lie, and pretending that we're the ones God should reward and think are great. It's fundamental to the human condition. On one hand, you could call it doubt. And some of you might have doubts. a doubter would like to believe something. But there's something in your mind that holds you back. A concern that seems greater than the thing you want to believe. And on the other hand, there's unbelief. There's doubt and there's unbelief. Unbelief is when a truth claim is just flatly rejected. But doubt and unbelief both have something in common. They both have greater faith in something else. Herod's faith was in himself, Herod's faith was in his power. Herod's faith was in his wealth. Herod's faith was in his legacy, Herod's faith was in his achievements. It was in his effectiveness. It's in his legacy.

    Herod sparked jealousy. Verse eight, sends them to Bethlehem, saying Go search diligently for the child. Make Our Life easy up here. When you found him bring word to me that I too may come and worship him. I mean, this lives gonna give him that second vital piece of information. We know how old he is. We're going to know right where he is. And the wise men tell will tell him where the boy is. Now clearly there's no intent to worship. And I find Isaiah is rebuke poignant here. Matthew is going to pick it up This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.

    Friend, it's the Christmas season with Christmas carols that we're all familiar with. And they play in the middle of some of our most entertaining Christmas movies. We're watching the Benedict Cumberbatch animated Grinch Who Stole Christmas which is really fun. And right in the middle of it like right at the beginning. You have the choir singing this amazing version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. All of that nothing you your dismay, Jesus Christ. Like it's part of the it's part of the Christmas fabric and a secular movie. Friend when you sing those, is that Sung from the heart? Or is it sung for the nostalgia? Is it sung for the season is Isaiah has this blistering rebuke This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. After listening to the king, they went on their way. Not commentators notice that they're going right away at night. It's dark, they go right away at night. And in the city where there should have been the greatest spiritual zeal and the greatest spiritual anticipation of Messiah coming to Jerusalem. There was no one to join them. No delegation of priests, scribes, rabbis, they can't be bothered. Now, here are the doubters. They might like it to be true, but they have other greater concerns. Like, I would sure like to keep our high priestly caste system go away. We don't want to step on Herod's toes. Let's just let it play out. Because maybe we'll get rid of Herod and we'll get a better guy. Maybe we'll be the guy. They might like it to be true. They've accepted their place in the Roman pecking order. If you remember pecking orders in families, we understand pecking orders. You know, there's there's a powerful sibling And there's a pecking order of who gets what, we all know that it's the youngest because mom and dad by the youngest have the most money. And the adults, the pecking order is always the youngest. Seems like they like their pecking order. Their control their wealth, their place in society was saved, so long as they did nothing, do nothing. Now watch how this unfolds, it says, Behold, the star that had they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. So this is No comment. No planet, no ordinary star. It's on the order of a sign, like God appearing in a pillar of cloud to Israel, or a pillar of fire to Israel, or like a burning bush appearing to Moses. Suddenly, this the star that had disappeared, it had disappeared. And yet here, they're driven, they can't unsee what they had seen. They come to Jerusalem, they're certainly troubled with the trouble that they see. They're wondering where the boy is, and they want to make it as fast as they can to Jerusalem and suddenly, here is the star reappearing to them. And it appears and moves on ahead. Oh, it says over the place where the child was. Now if you take the South Gate out of Jerusalem on on your left is the Mount of Olives. And on the right there's another set of hills and you could take a highway a path, so to speak, up through you hit the past when you get to the past, you overlook the South, and off the left probably well visible is Herod's fortress palace called the heroic Odium certainly would have had its fires lit. And the star rises and goes just a little bit to the right, kind of like a very bright drone. And it just stops over the ridge line. It's just past that ridge.

    When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. The English text does well with the Greek they exploded with joy. He piles on the joy rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. I bet some of them even raised their hands. Their Norwegians went like this. Whoa.

    What do you know about that?

    They were exuberant.

    Matthews, second of dozens of demonstrations of supernatural signs come here. The first announced by Isaiah is that the Virgin would be with child. This one is next. The one in just a minute that we'll see is the dream that comes to the magi to go and escape another way. In 317, there is going to be a sign at Jesus baptism, where it comes up out of the water and the heavens are opened up and the Holy Spirit descends and out of heaven, God the Father says of God the Son, this is my son, in whom I am well pleased.

    For the wise men, it was the renewal of a promise to them that a king and Savior had finally arrived, the long awaited time had come and they see the sign. They have scripture, they have sign, they have everything that they need to believe and they they explode and ecstatic joy. And so friends, this is a sign for you to the sign for you to it's been recorded for you to not only was it in Scripture, but it's in history. And assign the wonderful counselor Prince of Peace, Everlasting Father, if Isaiah nine six has really arrived and everything that they left behind comfort their position influence wealth, everything that they left behind, it was gonna be worth it. The star, we see the star one of my team forwarded this quote from the philosopher Jim Carrey, speaking of comedians, who did another good Grinch. He said, I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of, so that they can see that it's not the answer. Jim, go all the way with your Salomon moment, all the way to Jesus. In recent years, there have been multiple events that have caused political upheavals in our country, in our world, and the year ahead could prove just as volatile. So here's the question, what's your hope in what you're hoping for these senators to wait to kind of describe this from Parthia. This king was eternal, powerful, good, generous, and the sight of the star confirmed their journey. You and I can say it. We know the rest of the story. Good news. We have a king His name is Jesus. They rejoice their King has come. Matthew calls us to rejoice. First, second, Matthew calls us to worship him humbly. Now here, the story just piles on these responses. These senators from the east these kingmakers have come to Messiah, their Lord and they worship humbly redemption has done the King has come verse 11, says in going into the house, they saw the child with marry his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him. In a long enough time had passed, that Joseph and Mary are no longer at the stable. I know that when we make a manger scene, we compress all the story to get all the characters together. But a long enough time had passed, Joseph actually found them a home and the Wiseman go into the house and they see the child, not take a full stop there, circle the child, the child is here. God is with us in the flesh, from embryo to toddler, to preteen to teenager, to adult God, God goes through all of human life, and the whole of our salvation, the whole of the hope of the world. The whole of God's compassion in Christ, who is at the right hand of the father right now praying for every one of his saints. Every one of His followers is rooted in this incarnation. God the son was born here, and here is a child

    and he could so effectively pray for every one of our needs, because he knows so fully what it is like to suffer and be tempted in this world

    a real man dies in place of men and women. Here was a child. And what does it say? They did. They walked in, they looked at Mary says, you know, we need to make like 100 million ceramic figures if you you're so cute. You're so adorable. Mary. Good job. We should make 100 million paintings of you like this scene boys. Can you imagine the marketing we have some of those and use them the right way. But what did they do? They fell down and worshipped. They fell down and worshipped. We use the word in a contemporary way for the part of our service that is singing praying Thanksgiving. It's called the worship time. And they're good they are forms worship but that's not what we have here is it? I'm sure they were doing that on the way home. What we have here are hearts that have just be held the glory of God in the face of Christ. And they are crushed under the weight of this glory

    the word worship here means to bow to the ground and offer all of one's life in obedience and reverence and allegiance. Jeff Peterson ever since I have known him will say this often. All of life is worship. And all of our lives are offered in worship. If we had a few words to describe this word, proskin Neto, and it's matched with fell down because proskin. Neto means in a sense, to fall on one's face and obedience and voluntary obedience. It is an acknowledgement of smallness in front of greatness. Three words would be awe and reverence and trust. Trust. The Almighty Eternal God has promised to come, He came as God. No, he's not cute. Rather, he has somewhat of such immense greatness, one cannot help but feel a proportionate smallness. And because he's good, and he keeps his word, we can trust him. And he's a child. This is what they do.

    Because they would have never imagined such glory that the King of Kings Lord of lords, the master and creator and Lord of heaven and earth, would be humble would be humble. It stands in contrast to Herod and the religious leaders in Jerusalem who are still committing the same sin as they were in Jeremiah. Jeremiah chapter 212. And 13 says be appalled. Oh heavens, at this be shocked be utterly desolate declares the Lord. For my people have committed two evils they have forsaken me the fount of living waters and hewed out cisterns for themselves broken cisterns that hold no water. Here's my bucket illustration here comes if I could bring a cistern in I would, but they're really heavy. This this whole phrase of fountain of living waters, the best drinking water anywhere in the world is fresh spring water, untainted, unspoiled, God is describing himself as the living waters to be satisfied with you have forsaken the living waters. Instead, you have hewn out for yourself cisterns large openings covered with stone to hold massive amounts of water. And in Israel, many places didn't have ongoing spring water. So when the spring rains came, you filled up your system and you took all the fresh water while you could. But eventually, sometime in the year, you're drinking out of a cistern and just trust me, I got a dirty bucket. And it's dirty water. I used to work on water wells and cisterns replacing their pumps. And it was a couple times every summer we'd open up a cistern and there would be floating rodents inside. The people were going you know, we've been getting sick a lot recently. Oh, that's really interesting. So we would see the floaties we would scoop them out we would throw them out somewhere far away. We would pour bleach in at the end of the trip and we'd say you need to flush this out and we would never tell them about the mice. Do they really want to know they were dead mice floating in their water? We're buying water from now on the heat out for them cisterns not freshwater dirty water, gross water, and then he goes one step further. You have chosen for yourself cisterns broken cisterns that hold no water. How does he do that? It just falls through I don't know what's the magic of TV.

    Here's Jeremiah's point, God was offering Himself as the soul source of satisfaction, he's the living water. Instead of choosing him, they choose chose a manmade God manmade gods. Not only that those were corrupt, and despite despicable, but they, they chose gods for themselves that could actually hold no water so they could never satisfy their thirst. Now you can call it whatever you want. But you could just start with I'm going to put my hope in the next election, the next political party, but that's going to be a bucket with floaties. I mean, you know, the jokes about politics and politicians, there's gonna be rats in the water. I think there's somebody already says that all the time. You could choose your wealth, you could choose your career, you could choose a new Lego set under the tree, you could choose a variety of toys, you could choose the right spouse, you could choose this you could choose that but anything else, but God Himself, will be a dirty cistern or a broken cistern that will offer nothing to satisfy your soul. Hey, man, we have some Wiseman today. It's pretty crazy. The Norwegians said Well, what do you know about that

    the wise men came because their political system, the best they could do was orchestrate the next king, over a failing and faltering Empire, the best they could do was patched together a a fragile system, a network of a little loyalties, to try to uphold a whole empire. And it was corrupt, and it was empty and there was nothing and it would not last. And even if they got a good king, he'd be dead.

    from God's perspective in a blink

    we know why Herod went after Jesus, he's easy in the story, isn't he? He's got a kingdom and he's going to do everything he can to protect it. He's jealous. I'm gonna one of the second most basic human impulses is what happens when you walk into a third grade class of students. And you ask a question, did anybody and everybody puts their hand up? What's the everybody putting their hand up to do? Like you didn't even finish the question? Did anybody eat or boss look this week? You know, everybody's got their hands up. Like it's just fun to fill. Fill in the questions. Why? Because what does the kid want? Pick me, pick me, pick me. Pick Me. Everybody's got to pick me in them. That's the most basic human. And so what is the system and we really want to carve out for ourselves, us thinking we can fill it ourselves. But these wealthy, powerful, foreign and strange men came to Jerusalem looking for a king. They saw the star the king was confirmed and they burst through the door and they see the child with Mary and they fall down and worship. Finally there is the fountain there is the fountain of living water and they worship in exceedingly worship. Joyful worship, humble worship. And what comes out of people who are worshipping is generosity. It's what comes out of people who are worshipping. Three he shows us people who give generously. Hearts of worship humble worship always offer something to God as a token to show that they're entirely God's. There his look at verse 11. The second part of it this is the opening their treasures. This is their treasure boxes. They've been carrying those their security detail was there to protect it with them. They opened their treasure they offer him gifts. Gold, the highly valuable metal, frankincense, a very expensive incense often used in religious ceremonies, myrrh something that covered up the odor of death but also often used in religious ceremonies. They opened up these treasures but I want you to notice it's not so much the details here that matters. so much it's this phrase they offered. This word offering has to do with some voluntary act of the will something freely given. This king wouldn't be able to an exact tribute for 20 or 30 years they are coming to give gifts voluntarily. Because once they have been satisfied once they have seen the king, they now voluntarily bring him gifts. Much is made about gold, frankincense and myrrh gold for a king frankincense, for a High Priest myrrh for a sacrifice to death. It's a great Getty him with that theme and and that that may be true. Certainly does remind us Jesus is my king. Jesus is my high priest who prays for me and he is a sacrifice who paid for my sin debt is yours. I mean, hear if that's the case, we already have a parable. But just as well. These are all highly valued commodities, and Joseph needs portable wealth. And God's providing Matthew's point is that Jesus was the king, the king. And the Wiseman gave out of their treasures as a response of worship as a token of giving their very selves. It's what our giving is. It's a token of giving our very selves. So it's not how rich you are, that matters. A person who was saved by this humble King offers his whole life as a freewill gift to that King. You will give a token, you have time you have abilities, you have resources. And these two are to be given to Jesus for His use. not grudgingly but generously. God, the Father generously not grudgingly gave the gift of His Son. So not grudgingly, but generously we give the gift of our very lives. This part closes with yet one more sign. It's an a communication. being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way they they finally realized that Herod has been trying to use them and God and His grace and mercy to the wise men didn't allow them to be a cause of the murder of Jesus unwittingly. And God is protecting them. So Matthew isn't subtle. This is not a subtle message. There's a clear connection Are you wise, angry, or indifferent? If you stopped trusting himself, and wealth and achievements in ethics and control, or any other created thing, and you turn instead to come to Jesus, to bow before Him and worship and serve Him as your King, you're going to receive forgiveness, restoration, hope and eternal life. God is giving you his Son. Jesus says, This is eternal life. John 17 threes. He's praying to God that they know you and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. You could know him. So if you know Him, seek him still more. Seek Him still more. And as you see His glories, bow your hearts to to worship Him. And if you have not yet sought him, and he is now put in brilliant display, don't go away and different. Don't go away angry, just keep seeking Him. You could do it in the Gospel of Matthew. Signs and scriptures fulfilled. The King has humbled himself to save foreigners and outsiders how interesting it is, as we finish this out, that it is Gentile. It is Gentile rulers who are the first worshipers it's the outsiders who are the first worshipers the ones who have seen their power and their prestige as bankrupt compared to the glory that they have. And see in Christ. They see their need and they come and like the Wiseman we have news to bring home too don't we? We do to Father this this beautiful story. new and fresh to us. Us to impact our hearts to impact our worship, to impact our pocketbooks, our evangelism our praise and thanksgiving to Christ we pray in Christ's name we pray, amen.

Dan Jarms

Dr. Dan Jarms is teaching pastor and team leader at Faith Bible Church in Spokane Washington, as well as associate dean at TMS Spokane. He has been married for over 30 years to Linda, and has three adult children. He earned his B.A. in English at the Master’s College, B.Ed. at Eastern Washington University, M.Div and D.Min in Expository Preaching at The Master’s Seminary. His other interests include NCAA basketball, gardening, brick oven cooking.

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