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Wise Men Still Come to Jesus

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People who are truly wise still come to Jesus.

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Text: Matthew 2:1-12
Theme: People who are truly wise still come to Jesus.
Date: 01/06/2018 File name: Wise_Men_Still_Come_to_Jesus.wpd ID Number:
Some of you may be wondering, "Why in the world are the Christmas decorations still up in the sanctuary? Christmas was two weeks ago. It’s time to move on already!" I asked that they be left up for a reason.
Most Christians assume that the day after Christmas ends the Christmas Season. We assume this because everything 'Christmasee' all go on sale — lights, wrapping paper, tinsel, bows, Christmas cards, etc. While some of you were taking advantage of the post-holiday bargains, you probably noticed that the department stores were quickly taking down their Christmas decorations to make way for the Valentines Day decorations.
We assume that the Christmas Season is over because the decorations in our homes have been boxed up and put in storage, and the Christmas tree has been disassembled.
We assume that the Christmas Season is over because the parties have ended, the company has gone home and you have started your post-holiday diet.
We assume that the Christmas Season is over because all the Bowl games have ended.

But, according to the traditional Christian calendar, the Christmas season really isn't over until the end of today. January 6th is known as Epiphany and, according to church tradition, is the day the Wise Men showed up in Bethlehem to pay homage to Christ Child. It signifies the extension of salvation to the Gentiles — for which most of us here this morning ought to be really glad that Christianity didn’t stay a “Jewish thing”.

Now, I know that as Baptists, we really don't much care for church tradition — especially ancient church tradition — and especially ancient church tradition that we think has anything remotely to do with Catholicism.
But, in my defense, let me quickly say, that: 1) some traditions are good in that they teach us important truth about our faith, and 2) a lot of church tradition predates Roman Catholicism.
According to tradition, the wise men found the new born king of the Jews, not on Christmas Day, but twelve days after his birth. That's where the tradition of the Twelve Days of Christmas that we sing about comes from. The Sunday that follows the first 12 days after Christmas is called Epiphany.
I love that word — it's a word that means to show or to reveal. Eastern Orthodox churches refer to it as Theophany Sunday, and Protestants have traditionally called it Three Kings Day. Whatever you prefer to call today, it celebrates the coming of the wise men bringing gifts to the Christ child. In doing so, they reveal Jesus to the world as Lord and King and teach us some important spiritual truths about our faith-walk as Christians.

I. WISE MEN WILL DILIGENTLY SEARCH FOR THE CHRIST

"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem" (Matthew 2:1, NIV)
1. what significance do we find in this verse?
2. if it is true that these Magi were Persian Astronomers (as most biblical historians believe they were), then they were men who had made a long, and arduous journey
a. the trip from Persia to Palestine is a distance of about 1,200 miles
ILLUS. That’s the distance from Linn, Missouri to Salt Lake City, Utah.
b. in our day of modern travel, we think nothing of driving a several hundred miles in a day, or flying a few thousand miles in a couple of hours
1) we forget that their journey would have been by foot or perhaps camel
2) we forget that their journey would have been fraught with dangers and hardships
c. if they were lucky, they made 15 miles a day by Camel caravan making it three-month trip
3. lesser men may well have turned back, but these men had received the revelation that the King whose kingdom would never end had been born
a. they were determined to let nothing stand in their way of expressing their homage to this King
b. their determination teaches us an important lesson

A. CHRISTIANS NEED A DETERMINED FAITH

1 determination means a resolute willingness to carry through with a commitment
2. let me be honest with you this morning; the church in America is currently raising its second generation of biblically illiterate, spiritually incompetent, narcissistically self-involved baby saints, who do not know what it means to be committed to the Lord, Jesus Christ
a. the typical attitude toward church today is "What's in it for me? What do I get out of it if I go?" “What’s the payoff?”
ILLUS. Back in September, I got a phone call from a women who was searching for a ‘church home’. I get one or two, perhaps three of those calls a year. Usually it’s from someone whose family has just moved into the community. She grilled me about our programs and ministries. She ask about our style of worship — are we contemporary or traditional? She asked about the general tenor of our theology — are we conservative or more moderate. But mostly she wanted details about our children's and youth programs. Secondary was what kind of programs and ministries we have for adults. Bottom line — she was asking "What do you have for me and my family, if we come to your church?" She was shopping for the best spiritual bargain in town.
Now, let me say — I think it's important that we establish programs to meet the spiritual and ministry needs of our people from preschoolers through senior adults. But let me tell you of the phone call that Pastors day-dream about. It would go something like this: "Hello. My family and I have just moved into your community. We're looking for a church home that will allow us to use our spiritual gifts and talents to minister to the church and community in a variety of ways. My husband and I both like to sing in choirs. Do you have a choir? Oh, and we just love churches that have kept their piano and organ. We will be there every time the doors are opened. Oh, and by the way, we're tithers."
In 40 years of ministry, I've never had that conversation. If I had, you’d be searching for a new pastor because I would have dropped dead of cardiac arrest.
3. 1st, a determined faith is a faith that is committed to our Lord Christ no matter what
ILLUS. Most of you know the story of Job in the Old Testament. Job was a man who lost almost everything of earthly importance to him. In a few catastrophic days, he lost his wealth, his community standing, his children, and his health. His wife, whom I'm sure was in a state of shock and mourning herself, urged her husband to curse God, lay down and die. Instead, Job retains his faith and confesses a great confession when he declares, “Even after my skin has been destroyed, yet I will see God in my flesh. 27 I will see Him myself; my eyes will look at Him, and not as a stranger. My heart longs within me.” (Job 19:26–27, HCSB)
a. Job is confessing that even though he has no earthly reason for trusting in God, yet he will do so anyway
1) even if there is nothing tangible in it for him, he will still believe and worship
b. a determined faith is a faith that is committed to our Lord Christ no matter what
4. 2nd, a determined faith is a faith that is committed to our Lord Christ and to His Body — the Church — no matter what
a. after 40 years of ministry I’ve discovered one great truth about God’s people ... the vast majority of Christians are absolutely 100% committed to their church — as long as they've got nothing better to do
ILLUS. A couple of years ago, the following letter appeared in a Christian magazine.
Dear Pastor,
You often stress attendance at worship as being very important for a Christian, but I think a person has a right to miss now and then. I think every person ought to be excused for the following reasons:
Christmas (either the Sunday before or after); New Year (either the Sunday before or after); Easter (that’s Spring Break and we need to get away to ski); July 4 (either the Sunday before or after); Labor Day (I work hard, and I need to get away); Memorial Day (I need to visit family in my hometown); End of School year (Kids need break); Beginning of School year (kids need one last fling); Family Reunions (Mine & wife's); Deaths in Family; Anniversary (Weekend getaway with the spouse); Sickness (One per family member); Business Trips (A must); Vacation (Three weeks); Bad Weather (Ice, snow, rain, clouds); Ball games (at least two); Unexpected Company (Can't walk out); Time changes (Spring ahead; fall back); Super Bowl.
Pastor, that leaves only two Sundays per year. So, you can count on us to be in church on the fourth Sunday in February and the third Sunday in August unless providentially hindered. Sincerely, A Faithful Member
b. a determined faith is a faith that is committed to our Lord Christ and to His Body — the Church — no matter what
5. 3rd, a determined faith is a faith that is committed to our Christ, and to Christ's church, and to ministry no matter what
ILLUS. Many churches have a Beau Geste view of ministry. Beau Geste is an adventure novel written by P.C. Wren in 1924. It details the lives of three English brothers who enlist in the French Foreign Legion. Their last name is Geste and the oldest brother is named Michael, but is know to everyone as Beau. In the novel’s climactic battle that movie, the Arabs are attacking the Legionnaire fort where the Geste brothers are stationed. After days of attack, only four Legionnaires were left alive. The Arabs were not aware of this, because the surviving Legionnaires devised a plan to disguise their weak condition. They set up the bodies of their dead comrades along the wall of the fort and run back and forth, firing off the guns of their dead friends. From the outside, it all looked very convincing — but on the inside, there were only four men alive. Likewise, in many of our churches, the vast majority of the congregations are spiritually dead, and a handful of believers run around like madmen doing the work of the church. Outwardly the church looks like it is alive and well — but inwardly there are only a very few people doing the work of the whole body.
6. The Magi Were Determined in Their Faith and Willing to Suffer Any Price in Their Search For the Christ

II. WISE MEN WILL OFFER THEIR SINCERE WORSHIP TO THE KING

"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 in the east and have come to worship him." (Matthew 2:1-2, NIV)
"On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him...." (Matthew 2:11, NIV)
1. first and foremost the Magi have come to worship the new born king of the Jews

A. TRUE WORSHIP ADORES GOD FOR WHO HE IS

"I am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images." (Isaiah 42:8, NIV)
1. friends, it is not a matter of what you get out of worship — but what God gets out of worship that is important
a. He is to be adored, and praised, and magnified, and exalted, and honored, and glorified, and acclaimed, and celebrated
"... Great and marvellous are Your works, 0 Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations!4 "Who will not fear, 0 Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; For all the nations will come and worship before You, For Your righteous acts have been revealed." (Revelation 15:3-4, NIV)
1) if you leave this place not having done any of those things, you've not worshiped
2) but, if you do those things in worship, I virtually guarantee that you will get something out of worship
2. worship is the act of ascribing ultimate value to something in such a way that engages your entire being
“Come, let us shout joyfully to the LORD, shout triumphantly to the rock of our salvation! 2 Let us enter His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout triumphantly to Him in song. 3 For the LORD is a great God, a great King above all gods. 4 The depths of the earth are in His hand, and the mountain peaks are His. 5 The sea is His; He made it. His hands formed the dry land. 6 Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. 7 For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, the sheep under His care. Today, if you hear His voice: 8 Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as on that day at Massah in the wilderness” (Psalm 95:1–8, HCSB)
3. according to the Psalmist worship is meant to engage your entire character — mind, will, and affections
a. we're called to worship God with our affections
1) the Psalm contains emotion language, vvs. 1-2 — Shout aloud, sing, extol, make joyful noise, give thanks — these are worship behaviors that affect our emotional state
2) that’s an important part of our worship
ILLUS. Let's say you go to a service where you experience great emotion; you have an aesthetic experience that makes you weep, but if it doesn't change the your behavior, or the way you live, you’ve not really worship.
b. we're called to worship God with our will
1) the Psalm contains volitional language, vs. 6 — Come, kneel, bow down, worship
2) that’s an important part of our worship
ILLUS. Suppose you go through the prescribed motions of worship; you bow when your supposed to bow, you kneel when your supposed to kneel, you stand when you’re supposed to stand, you raise your hands when your supposed to raise your hands, but you don't experience joy, it's not really worship.
c. we're called to worship God with our intellect
1) the Psalm contains language of reasoning vs. 7 — Hear His voice, listen to His voice, accept what he says
2) that’s an important part of our worship
ILLUS. If you attend a service, and the pastor is a great teaching pastor, and you learn something about the bible you've never heard before and it excites your intellect, but if you go through the service without ever experiencing in your inner being a ravishing sense of beauty and joy in the Savior, you’ve not worshiped.
4. worship, when it’s fully-formed in our lives involves our whole being; mind, will, and affections
a. it is assigning ultimate worth to the God of Creation — the God who is a great God, and a great king above all the other gods our hearts can create
b. it is acknowledging that we are His people, we are like sheep under His watch-care
c. the Psalmist is taking an inventory of the excellencies of God — he is going over them, he is going through them, he is enumerating them, he is reflecting upon them until there is a explosion or worship that engages all he is
5. we see all of these things in the lives and behaviors of the Magi
a. their affections are stirred ... vs. 10 they see the star and rejoiced exceedingly with great joy ... they presented Him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh
b. their volition is surrendered ... vs. 1 wise men from the east came to Jerusalem ... “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we ... have come to worship Him” ... they fell down and worshiped him
1) these are men who, months before, have seen the signs that God’s Anointed One has been conceived, and soon will be born, and they’ve made a volitional decision to come and bow before him whatever the cost and despite the hardships
c. their intellect is engaged ... vvs. 2, 11 we saw his star ... where is he? ... they diligently searched ... they found ... they saw
6. much of what we think is worship is not worship
a. worship is not our puny attempt to make God feel good
b. worship is not a weekly pep talk to rally the troops for another week
c. worship is not the Christian alternative to a Saturday night rock concert
d. worship IS the believer's recognition of the Christ's Lordship in his or her life as they adore him and who, like the Magi, bow their knee to his authority

B. TRUE WORSHIP GIVES GOD EVERYTHING WE HAVE

ILLUS. The Other Wise Man is a short novel by Henry van Dyke. It was initially published in 1895. The story is an expansion of the account of the Biblical Magi, and tells the story of a fourth wise man. His name was Artaban. He was the oldest the greatest, and the wisest of the Persian wise men. Like the other Magi, he set out to follow the star. As gifts for the new king, he took with him a sapphire, a ruby and a pearl — all beyond great price. His heart’s desire was to lay them at the feet of this new king that the heavens had revealed to them.
As he hurries to meet the other Wise Men, Artaban encounters a dying man and he stops to help, which makes him late to meet with the caravan of the other three wise men. Because he missed the caravan, and he can't cross the desert with only a horse, he is forced to sell the sapphire in order to buy the camels and supplies necessary for the trip. He then commences his journey but arrives in Bethlehem too late to see the child, whose parents have fled to Egypt.
While in Bethlehem, he suddenly hears the pounding of hooves and the pummel of a fist on the door. Herod's soldiers had come to kill the baby boy in that house. The mother stood weeping behind Artaban as he stood in the doorway. To save the child he paid the captain with the ruby so he would not enter. The child was saved, but the ruby was gone — one less gift for the King.
For thirty years, van Dyke’s story tells us, Artaban wandered Israel looking in vain for the child. His figure had become stooped, his hair white, but his heart still burned with love for the King of the Jews. One day the elderly magus hears that the Anointed One of God has appeared in Judea, and that He is performing many wondrous deeds, healing the sick, raising the dead, making saints of sinners and hopelessly wicked men. He hurried to Jerusalem hoping to find the King of the Jews during the Passover. He arrives just as Roman soldiers are leading Jesus off to Calvary. He believes he can use his remaining gem — the exquisite pearl — to buy our Lord's freedom. On his way a young girl came running from a band of soldiers. She flung herself at Artaban's feet and pleaded, "My father is in debt, and they are taking me to sell as a slave to pay the debt. Please save me!" Artaban hesitated; then sadly he takes out his pearl, gives it to the captain, and buys the girl's freedom.
On his way through Jerusalem, Artaban is suddenly struck in the head by a falling roof tile and is about to die, having failed in his quest to find Jesus, but having done much good he hears a voice saying to him "Verily I say unto thee, Inasmuch as thou hast done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, thou hast done it unto me." He dies with a calm assurance that his treasures have been given and accepted by the King.
1. the story of the fourth wise man is a fable that illustrates this point well
2. if we are truly "wise" we will give Christ the very best that we have
a. the best of our time
b. the best of our resources
c. the best of our wealth
3. we give these things to our Lord for two reasons
a. one, as God incarnate, Christ is worthy of and deserves our very best as an act of love and adoration
1) the Magi presented unto him gifts of gold, and frankincense, and myrrh — some of the most expensive and costly treasures of their day
b. secondly, God can take what we give Him, multiply it and use it more efficiently than we could ever think of doing
4. like the fourth wise man we also discover that when we give our treasures to those in need, we are, in reality, giving our treasures to the King of kings
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' "The King will reply, '/ tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' (Matthew 25:34-40, NIV)
5. wise men will use Christmas as an opportunity to offer their treasures in service to the king
This morning you are invited to bow before the King of king and Lord of lords. The Lord Jesus Christ whom we exalt at Christmas is not just a baby in a manger. He is not a character in a children's story. He is far more.
The first time he came, he came veiled in the form of a child. The next time he comes, he will come unveiled, and it will be abundantly and immediately clear to all the world just who he really is.
The first time he came, a star marked his arrival. The next time he comes, the whole heavens will roll up like a scroll, and all the stars will fall out of the sky.
The first time he came, wise men and shepherds brought him gifts. The next time he comes, he will bring gifts, and rewards for the faithful.
The first time he came, there was no room for him. The next time he comes, the whole world will not be able to contain His glory.
The first time he came, only a few attended his arrival — some shepherds and some wise men. The next time he comes, every eye shall see him.
The first time he came as a baby. Soon he will come as Sovereign King and Lord.
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