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165 Gifts of Christmas; Peace; Matthew 2:1-12

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Intro

Peace
We see a lack of peace around the world.
We see a lack of peace in our town. Last week we broke the murder record in Indianapolis.
We can have a lack of peace in our hearts

Transition

Before we get into the text today, we need to look at the people involved. Two are kings and and there is a group of king makers
Both Kings bring peace but the peace they bring is very different.
We have to do a bit of heavy lifting here but it will be worth it.

1st King; Herod the Great

Known as the only leader in Palestine to really have peace. Herod brought peace but at an incredible cost.
Herod wasn’t a Jew. His father was Idumaean (descendant of Esau) and his mother was Persian.
Some people tried to end his reign early by hiring Persian soldiers from the Parthian empire. He ended up bribing Rome and getting the title "King".
King Herod was a paranoid tyrant who ended up killing three of his sons on suspicion of treason, putting to death his favorite wife (of his ten wives!), killing one of his mothers-in-law (I won’t comment on this one), drowning a high priest, and killing several uncles and a couple of cousins. He plotted to kill a stadium of Jewish leaders, and he even killed all the male babies and toddlers in certain village. When he was inaugurated as king, he invited all his family’s enemies to a festival as a show of peace, and then had them all ambushed and killed.
Caesar Augustus said, "I'd rather be Herod's pig than his son.
Some people tried to end his reign early by hiring Persian soldiers from the Parthian empire. He ended up bribing Rome and getting the title "King".
He threw the Persians and their religious practices out of Israel.
Yes, Herod brought peace, but at an incredible price.
It's easy to point our fingers at Herod but there’s a bit of his kind in all of us:
insecurity
willingness to do anything

The other king; Jesus

Probably about 18 months old as we enter the text today.
He is the one prophesied about. He will be called the Prince of Peace.
He’s the reason for joy, hope, love.

King Makers - aka Magi

plural maybe 2 maybe 800
Came from the East
brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh
In light of a lack of evidence people made up stories
kings (the Greek word means great men)three because of three types of gifts
Many years later men came up with three names: Gaspar, Balthazar, and Melchior
Historical possibilities:
diviners and seducers
carnival workers - charlatans
MOST LIKELY a priestly cast of Medes and Persians from the Parthian empire (Megistanes=great men)
studied theology, philosophy, and the stars. At that time, astrology and astronomy (legitimate science) we muddled together.
Daniel
King makers
Ran out of Israel when Herod came to power
Horses not camels
Full military escort

The real King; Jesus

Herod had them thrown out years earlier.
Probably about 18 months old as we enter the text today.
The one who is called the Prince of Peace

​Text

Matthew 2:1–2 NIV
1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
Let's look at verse two from another translation.
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, ESV
Behold is a biblical way of saying, “Boom.” Its Magi!!!
Remember, they’d been thrown out!
Imagine their approach to Jerusalem. Who did they ask?
Notice they ask, “Where is the one who has been BORN, king of the Jews?” This king didn’t bribe someone to become king, he was born king.
This child’s kingdom will have no end. He won’t retire and he can’t be impeached.
Gentiles are the first to call him a king. Do you know when the first time a Jew acknowledges Jesus is king? "Let him come off the cross and we'll believe in him."
The magi have come to worship. They saw his star.
How would they know to look for a star or that someone special was coming? Daniel!
Star? The Bible doesn't provide many details because the star isn't important. The real "star" is the baby.
Matthew 2:3 NIV
3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.
Understatement of the century!
disturbed? This is the same word used in chapter 14
Matthew 14:26 NIV
26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
Matthew 14:23 NIV
23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone,
Herod is freaked out and everyone else is as well.
These magi could mean trouble.
When Herod gets freaked out, people die.
Matthew 2:4–6 NIV
4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: 6 “ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
The chief priests can answer the questions with precision but they seem to be apathetic to the entire thing. They knew the text but they didn't expect the Messiah? The priest's job is to lead worship!
It's a very dangerous thing to get familiar with this book and not live like its true. These guys knew the prophecy but weren't even expecting Jesus.
Matthew 2:7–8 NIV
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
Herod pretends worship but intends murder. As a matter of fact he will.
They "Jewish" King is asking Gentiles to help him find the Jewish Messiah?
But we shouldn't be surprised, Scriptures promised this for years! For example:
Isaiah 60:3 NIV
3 Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
Is
Nations were coming to his light! They were coming to worship. They were on a mission to find this long-expected King Jesus who would bring an entirely new kind of peace.
Matthew 2:9–10 NIV
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
The star came back! I thoroughly believe that if someone genuinely is seeking God, he will move heaven and earth to bring them to his Son.
God wasn't going to bring them part way. They saw his star!
ἐχάρησαν χαρὰν μεγάλην σφόδρα==rejoice with joy, greatly, very much!
Matthew 2:11 NIV
11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Matthew 2:11
Picture these wealthy men coming into a simple home. There he is with Mary! How long did they stare? At some point they must have come to the realization that standing was inappropriate in his presence. So they bow. They present him with gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh.
We could ponder on the significance of the gifts but Again, the gifts aren't the place we should be looking. We should be staring at Jesus. He is the main point. He is the object of worship. He is the hope of the world. He is the only real and lasting peace. And God led them to him! Can you imagine the joy in their hearts as they bowed?! Jesus is the real thing.
Matthew 2:12 NIV
12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
​The magi worship the "one born king" and head off as quick as we are introduced to them. We hear no more about them. They pay no attention to the fool Herod. A genuine king of Israel would have already known where the Messiah was to be born and would have rejoiced at his birth.
Did you notice that both Herod and the magi are primarily remembered by their responses to the true King, Jesus.
What a text!

Application

Two kings, two kinds of peace
Did you notice the contrasts?
King Herod and King Jesus
King Herod lived in an incredible Palace and a simple home
King Herod Plotted Murder while Jesus other received worship
King Herod spread Terror and King Jesus gives genuine peace
King Herod provided peace through fear and coercion while King Jesus provided peace through sacrifice and love
Herod, like so many politicians we’ve seen in the past century, said, “Put your faith in me and I’ll
Do you want to know peace?
Do you see him?
The peace Jesus offers is different that the peace Herod, or for that matter, any other source of peace - money, relationships, success. Jesus offers a peace the Bible refers to as shalom.
Shalom is the concept of the sort of peace that that comes when God restores all things to the way they were intended.
relationship with the Father
Living in step with the Spirit
Jesus provides a new peace
The Bible calls it a peace that surpasses understanding.
He is peace
How?
This shalom/peace is only found in the child of Christmas. It’s found in Jesus.
He demonstrates a life of peace
Do you see him?
We don't worship a caricature of Jesus . Our desire is to worship him as he is. The closer we look at him we realize 2 things increasingly:
Relationship with the Father
we are sinful
we are loved
Do you bow? Do you acknowledge him as King?
Walking in the Spirit
Are you generous? (were the whole realm of nature mine, it would be an offering far too small)
Caring for the less-fortunate and the marginalized
Sacrifice
2 Thessalonians 3:16 NIV
16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.
Pray—invitation
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