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07-12-16 Imagine Knowing Truth

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Imagine Christmas: Knowing Truth

Matthew 2:1-12

Intro:

  1. You know that Christmas song – Do You Hear What I Hear? It asks three questions. You may have noticed that we’ve been following those questions each week:

    

Said the night wind to the little lamb,

"Do you see what I see? …

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy,

"Do you hear what I hear? …

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king,

"Do you know what I know? …

  1. So now we have a third question: Do you know what I know?  I.e. Do you have the same facts as I do?  God asked those same questions through the prophet Isaiah:

Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;

his understanding is unsearchable. Isaiah 40:28 ESV

What I want to say:  Truth is being challenged in our day. Yet when truth is known it has a powerful effect on the soul. The Magi endured much hardship in order to pursue the truth.  Without truth, there is nothing compelling in life. With truth, life is an adventure of faith.

I.      Seekers of truth find the truth (Matthew 7:7-8)

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.  Matthew 7:7-8 ESV

A.    The great question of our day is “Does truth exist?”

1.    Why did not Herod go with them?

a)    He did not even send spies

b)    What could have been simpler? Follow the Magi; find the child; kill the child

c)    He did not believe the report or he was being deceitful

d)    Or he was not a seeker of truth and God prevented him

2.    We feel that truth is malleable and personal

3.    “What is true for you is not necessarily true for another”

4.    You will not know truth if you do not seek it.

5.    Truth exists and it is most clearly demonstrated in Jesus Christ.

B.    If truth does exist can you know it?

1.    God seemed to think so. “truth” appears 34 times in the Gospels. 28 of them in John.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 ESV

and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 ESV

God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:24 ESV

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 ESV

2.    Yes!  Truth can be known – it is embodied in Jesus Christ

C.   If you can know truth it compels you to action

1.    The Magi came seeking the One of whom they had heard.

a)    We do not know how they heard of the king to be born

2.    Herod gave a pretense of valuing truth but he never sought it.

3.    Are you seeking the truth or just pretending? Going through the motions of spirituality is not seeking. It is hoping that by doing some ritual, something magical will occur and your heart will be changed.  There were people in Jesus’ day who lived like that – they were called Pharisees. Pharisees are good people but they are spiritually shallow.

4.    The Magi laid it all on the line. If God was real, then He would communicate. If God communicated, it was to be obeyed. When you obey God, you are changed. When you are changed, you understand more about God.

5.    Christianity in our day is too much “show” and no “go”.

6.    Truth requires going

II.    When your priority is seeking truth you will be moved to action (:1)

A.    Truth moves those who believe it

Some basic Magi questions answered:

1.    Who were they?

a)    “from the East”

b)    They evidently had exposure to what we call the Old Testament for they came looking for the “king of the Jews”

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 (NASB95)

c)    Their familiarity with the Hebrew Scriptures should not surprise us because from about 120 BC to the rise of Islam in the 7th century many of the leaders in Arabia were followers of the Jewish faith. (Edersheim)

d)    The king that they sought was “born king” – from birth as opposed to Herod who had murderously clawed his way to the throne.

e)    They were not literal kings but of a priestly tribe that for generations influenced the making of kings.

2.    How many were there?

a)    It is impossible to know.

b)    We only know that they brought 3 gifts. There could have been 2 or 20.

3.    Where were they from?

a)    The only clue we have is that their name, Magi, is a Persian (modern Iran) or Chaldean word.

b)    They came “from the East” when they saw the star.

 

B.    Your obedience may disturb those who are not truth seekers (:2)

1.    Their coming disturbed Jerusalem (:2)

2.    How? The word of their presence as foreigners would have caused a stir. But it was not their presence as much as their mission that disturbed the peace.

3.    Also, if Herod was troubled, everyone around him was troubled.

I remember seeing a T-shirt that said, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy”

a)    People knew that in case of civil unrest, to survive they needed to be on the right side – Herod’s side.

b)    Within two months after the murder of the boys two and under in Bethlehem, Herod was dead. He died near insane with guilt over the blood on his hands. He died in horrible agony from a disease.

4.    The Hebrew priests knew of the birthplace of Messiah and from the book of Daniel (Daniel 9:24) even the time of His arrival but they did not trouble to walk 5 miles to Bethlehem to find out!

5.    When you determine to obey the truth at all costs, it will reveal the condition of the hearts of those around you.

E.g. the man who was told “don’t work so fast – you make us look bad”

6.    The radical obedience of the Magi to the truth will shine a light upon the weakness of most of what passes for spiritual normality. 

7.    It is the same today – If you follow Jesus wholeheartedly, you will make others uncomfortable. Don’t let them hold you back.

C.   Faith will provide you with vision (:2, 9)

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 ESV

1.    These Magi believed what they knew of God’s Word.

2.    This is the important thing for you and I today – are you believing what you know of God’s Word? Or do you just act as if it is a collection of nice sayings?

3.    Faith finds God’s power unleashed while mere assent finds no power at all.

4.    Their faith turned into action.

 

Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. James 2:17 (NASB95)

5.    Later this same bias toward hearing God and taking action led them safely out of Herod’s evil path.

 

D.   If God is God He is supernatural (:9-10)

1.    The Magi believed in a supernatural God otherwise they would not have looked for and then followed the star.

2.    This word translated “star” may be the key to ending confusion over how a star could move.

a)    Some have said that this was a natural phenomenon resulting from the convergence of the planets Venus, Jupiter and Mercury. That the nearness of these planets created the appearance of a bright star between them.

b)    The problem with this is that Matthew is very clear that this star moved! From shining in the East it moved to the South, southwest over Bethlehem.

c)    Another problem is that it came to rest over the house where the family was. Any star could never show up a particular house!

3.    The resolution seems to be in the word used for “star”. There are two Greek words for star: “Astron” and “asteer”. Astron is translated “star” usually meaning a constellation. But “astare” though translated as “star”, can also refer to a supernatural being. This is particularly clear in several passages in Revelation (1:16, 20).

4.    If we consider that this is an angel sent from God, shining with the glory of God, it is easy to see how the “star” could move from when it rose to being over the specific house where Mary, Joseph and Jesus stayed.

5.    The truth is that God sent a messenger to guide them.  Believe it!

III.   Knowledge of truth leads to worship (:2, 8)

A.    Declaring your intention is not the same as doing it (:2, 8)

1.    Both Herod and the Magi declared their intention to worship

2.    Only the Magi actually did

3.    Herod professed a desire to worship this king but he had no such intention

4.    What you say does not reveal your heart – what you do reveals reality.

5.    E.g. Jesus’ parable of the two sons who are asked by their father to do something (Matthew 21:28-32)

6.    Brothers and sisters, if you are saying things about worshipping Jesus this Christmas, what actions are you taking that show it?

B.    Truth culminates in worship (:11)

1.    They came together – with one mind

a)    Each had decided alone but they had encouraged one another to keep on

2.    They fell to the ground – that is, their bodies showed humility and they gave reverence to God

3.    They gave gifts

a)    We have always assumed that they were wealthy because of the gifts but perhaps not.

 

Concl:

  1. The Magi apparently spent very little time in Bethlehem. Wasn’t that a lot of trouble for such a little time?  It all depends on what is most valuable to you – things of earth or things of heaven. If earth is what matters most, the inconvenience of worship will prevent you from going to the trouble.
  2. The Life Journal challenge – will fear of inconvenience stop you?
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