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The Quest

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Good morning! Can you believe that we are just three days away from Christmas Day… We are in our series on the Cast of Characters of Christmas.
If Steven Spielberg were the director for the Cast of Christmas, I don t think he would have chosen the Characters that we have in the Advent Story..
Joseph and Mary came from humble backgrounds… Mary a teenage mother with a child conceived outside of wedlock… The Shepherds were barely tolerated in the first century …they were lowly and dirty and untrusted…
Then we have another group of unlikely people… A Caravan of Wisemen from the East who arrive on the scene… They are the Magi a bunch of “Star-led Wizards,” magicians of sorts…
These Astrologers are a Quest to find the King of the Jews…
A quest is a journey toward a specific mission or a goal....
We all can relate to the Magi travels because like their journey much of our life is about seeking and discovering of our Purpose…
-- We are born with this internal compass that is longing for significance and Identity… We want to know Why we were born? and we want to know who we are?
We were created for purpose...Just like every inventor and creator creates tools with specific intentions. So God created man with a purpose. When we are fulfilling God’s purpose for us, things go well, but when we are outside that purpose, things dont go as well..
Purpose speaks of intentional plan and outcome… Purpose is like a guide that is leading us down a particular path… Paul tells us that we can have knowledge of his purpose...
Romans 8:28 ESV
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
As a believer there comes this awareness of bigger picture… knowledge of a calling that is according to His Purpose…
So those bigger questions like Why am I here? Who am I? where am I going… is ultimately found in God purposes..
One of the big failures of Atheism is that it doesn’t adequately address the our need for purpose… For example the... atheist Carl Sagon ...said we are just made up of star dust..we exist and then we go back to star dust… Well, in an accidental universe that would be true...
The problem with Atheism is the fact that every human being has this inner compass… This Quest to understand purpose and find meaning in life....Atheism simply doesn’t satisfy this inner compass for meaning..
God as creator has designed us with this internal compass with the desire to find out where we fit into the big scheme of things... God has given each of us gifts, talents, abilities to be expressed in the world… As per design… those needs can only be realized and satisfied within himself…
T/S We are going to learn from the Magi that Wisemen are on a Quest to seek after the King...
In Matt chapter 2 we have the only record of the Magi journey to find the King… Where Matthew tells of the Quest of the wisemen.
Matthew 2:1 ESV
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,
Before we get into this we need to Clarify a few things up about the Wisemen… If we are honest we don’t know as much about them as we think… the only record we have is this section in Matthew...
And there have been some creative liberties taken when it comes to retelling of the Christmas story...
I don’t want ruin your Christmas… but I have to give you a spoiler alert .... here…not everything that we do at Christmas fits with the Biblical account..
For example...
Have you noticed that every Christmas card the artist has portrayed 3 wise men and 3 Camels… right.. that is what we comes to believe… this idea is reinforced by the carols we sing…
John Henry Hopkins wrote the amazing Carol “We Three Kings” … But The truth is that there is nowhere in our text where mentions that there were 3 Kings — we have three gifts presented to Jesus Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.... But, Matthew mentions that there were 3 Magi.
In fact Scholars believe there were many more because their presence caused a great stir in the city of Jerusalem..
The other idea is that they were Kings.... At no point are we told that these guys were kings. They’re wise men were scholars of the day who studied the stars... they were astrologers…who interpreted the stars….
One last misconception is the timing of their coming… We have these beautiful nativity scenes with the shepherds…and the Magi.. but Matthew tells us that Jesus is found in a house… more likely a young infant.. Magi come much later....
What is incredible is that your have 3 Gentile --- Astrologers.. coming seeking for Jesus…
Why does Matt include the visit of the Magi in his account of the Birth of Jesus?
What is in Matthew’s mind is that Gentiles, those considered alien to God’s purposes, exhibit an openness to God’s purposes (even through the instrumentality of their own craft) and an eager receptivity toward the newborn king..
We have the elite opinion of the nations coming and acknowledging the true wisdom is Jesus Christ.
That indicates that the coming of Christ was bring in a new era.. of grace.. where Christ was going to be for all nations… and all people groups and Nations..
Lets read the Story of the Magi quest to find Jesus --- the King of Jews...
Matthew 2:1–12 The Message
1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem village, Judah territory—this was during Herod’s kingship—a band of scholars arrived in Jerusalem from the East. 2 They asked around, “Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the eastern sky that signaled his birth. We’re on pilgrimage to worship him.” 3 When word of their inquiry got to Herod, he was terrified—and not Herod alone, but most of Jerusalem as well. 4 Herod lost no time. He gathered all the high priests and religion scholars in the city together and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” 5 They told him, “Bethlehem, Judah territory. The prophet Micah wrote it plainly: 6 It’s you, Bethlehem, in Judah’s land, no longer bringing up the rear. From you will come the leader who will shepherd-rule my people, my Israel.” 7 Herod then arranged a secret meeting with the scholars from the East. Pretending to be as devout as they were, he got them to tell him exactly when the birth-announcement star appeared. 8 Then he told them the prophecy about Bethlehem, and said, “Go find this child. Leave no stone unturned. As soon as you find him, send word and I’ll join you at once in your worship.” 9 Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. 10 They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time! 11 They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh. 12 In a dream, they were warned not to report back to Herod. So they worked out another route, left the territory without being seen, and returned to their own country.
T/s What we learn from the Magi is what it means to actively seek after Christ… And there are three movements that I want to point out in our text… .
The first is the...

1. The Quest of Direction: What am I Pursuing?

The first thing we learn from the Magi is that they are on specific journey....The are head in a definite heading and direction… When they come to Jerusalem they immediately reveal the purpose of their Journey… they have come to Worship....
Matthew 2:1–2 ESV
1 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, 2 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.”
How did this happen?
What we learn is how the Journey began in the first place..
The begining of the quest… started with rising of an unusual Star rising in the East and start moving in a Westwardly direction… We need to remember that these men were astrologers… they were looking intently at the Sky… they were seeking to find meaning in the heavenly bodies interpret life from the perspective of the stars.. The Start of there journey is really full blown paganism… You don’t get much further from God than this....
This fact should give us so much hope… That God could use their magical arts and practices to lead people to truth....
Out of all the stars in the night sky that they were studying and looking at… This particular Star stood up above the rest.... The Magi refer the Star --- AS HIS STAR..
What is His Star.... There seems to be consensus among Scholars who agree that the star is most probably the fulfilment of the Star that is mentioned in the book of Numbers 24:15 .... We are told that a Star shall come out of Jacob… it thought that it is possible that Magi were familiar with the prophecies of the OT.. The word star or comet would rise out of Jacob was a reference to coming of a deliver of Israel…
What were the Magi looking at?
There are also various ideas of what magi saw; whether it was some supernova, or whether it was a brilliant comet such as Halley’s Comet, or whether it was a brilliant conjunction of planets such as Saturn and Jupiter...
We Can’t Get lost in details Here…
What we are told in Scripture is that there was a brilliant star that appeared, and the magi, seeing this star, were convinced of an act of God in which the entry of a great king was being heralded to the world....
It is what they did next is what is really important… That after identifying the Star they began to follow the Light that God had revealed...
We see that God has provided a means for them to Follow Him…
There are these wonderful promises of guidance in the Scripture…For example…After David receives forgiveness from his failure with Bathsheba.. God gives this promises and blessing of Guidance… God says to David....
Psalm 32:8 ESV
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
One of the wonderful things about Scripture is that we can know his voice.. God has given us his word as means of instruction and guidance…
God says that He will instruct David through His word… but he will also Guide him with my eye.... This is amazing imagery of how God guides us with his very presence..Just like the Magi had to be willing to follow the Star…
Guidance comes from both seeking and willingness to follow… the same message is given...
In Psalm 23
Psalm 23:1–3 ESV
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
The Lord is the Shepherd — he is providing Direction… The Shepherd is the Provider He is providing pastures… The Lord is providing the Energy — He is restoring our souls… alls those things have been made available..
all the systems are in place… What is needed is the willingness to follow.. if we keep our eyes upon Him… He will willingly lead us ...
Another aspect of Guidance is that it is more about the Direction wer are heading in than all the details...
God will Point us in the right direction and the details will take care of themselves…
We don't have all the information or the details… But what we can trust is that when we walk in the light of God that we are going to be heading in the right direction.
But here is the the thing.
If we are honest we love the convenience of an automated life… We living in the “Smart” Generation.. where we have smart watches.. smart tv’s we have smart cars… we have smart Houses… The thought of everything being automated is somehow welcoming… less hassles more convenience.
We love the automated life… when it comes to the spiritual life… you can't do it on auto pilot...
The first part of their quest is Awareness of the star… Awareness comes through observations...
--The Magi observed a star in the eastern sky .... they examined and studied the Star.. and after much time and everything pointed to the Birth of a King..
The second part is to follow…
Romans 8:14 ESV
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
-- The Magi have followed the Star of the King.
These men were learned men they had been studying an unusual star in the eastern sky and had interpreted it as sign that the Jewish King would be born..
We need to ask whom or What we are following?
The Magi teach us that Wise men still seek after the King!
T/s What we learn from the Magi is what it means to actively seek after Christ… And there are three movements that I want to point out in our text… .
The first is the...1. The Question of the Direction

2. We Quest of Threats: What are my challenges ?

James Emeory White Wrote a book entitled Christ among the dragons.... he tells of
Medieval cartographers (mapmakers) sketched hic sunt dragones (translated "there be dragons") on the edges of their maps. Those three words were used by the medieval cartographer of the famed Lenox Globe (c. 1503-1507) to describe the outer boundaries where knowledge ended and speculation began.
After drawing on all of his knowledge, the mapmaker could only write those three provocative words to convey that these areas were at best unexplored, and at worst, perilous.
There is a point when these Magi loose loose sight of the Star… and unknowingly… travel into some perilous territory…
Magi stop being led by the Star.. and turn to their own logic to try and connect all the dots....They put two and two together By their own reason and thinking, they came to the conclusion that there was a king to be born..the most logical place would be in the Capital of Jerusalem.
They are headed into some dangerious waters… it doesn't take long before news of their arrival gets to the palace..
Matthew 2:3–5 ESV
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:
When Herod hears what the Magi had been asking… He is disturbed and disturbed/ terrified with the rest of the city... The word troubled... means to have great mental distress... throw into confusion...
Here is the thing about Herod he was really a nasty piece of work… Though an ambitious builder and efficient administrator, Herod also had a dark side. He was a paranoid, cruel, and ruthless ruler Throughout his reign he feared that people would revolt against him, including members of his own family. Already by this time, Herod had killed several family members, including some of his own sons, because he suspected that they wanted his throne
Fear drove Herod to action He lost no time gathering top leaders and scholars -- lets fix this problem.... The laid forward the thesis the proposition... “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” They didn't have google to find stuff out you had to find the actual scholars... get the best minds in the Theology... religion-- lets figure this out... They come to the Prophet Micah who foretells the Birth of Christ being Bethlehem...
What is amazing that after they discover that Jesus is going to be born 5 miles down the road in Bethlehem… You would expect the response to be the same as the Shepherds… Lets go and see this thing that has happened… … But, not Herod or the Scribes… Instead there is no excitement… no joy…only the fear and threat… What is the reason??? Well it comes down to something quite deep in Human nature...
b. The desire for self preservation
Herod’s and response of the City of Jerusalem is an extreeme example of self-preservation and fighting for the status quo—the exact opposite of the worship of the Magi.
The reason is that they didn’t want anything to really change… Change was not welcomed and was viewed as threat to the peace that they were enjoying....
You see… Herod didn’t possess any real power… the real power was with back in Rome with Caesar… Caesar appointed these Herods to keep the peace… people from uprising… So, Herod was a kind of puppet leader....and any uprising in Jerusalem would cost Herod his throne.... News was had already leak out and the city was begging to stir and this could esculate into something much larger.. Herod is moving on this information as quickly as possible and deal with the problem as quick as possible…
The first thing he does is meet secretly with the Magi and during this meeting he comes up with some objectives…First He attempts to build some trust and get all the details that they have acquired about the star… and he is giving the impression that he is just as excited about finding the King as they are… tells them as soon as you find the Baby King… Let me know so I can also come and worship..
We know that this was the furtherest thing in Herods mind — because as the Magi start making plans the angel of the Lord warns them that they are not to return to Herod… When Herod finds out that he has been tricked.. He looses it… He sends out an edict and has all the Children under two killed…
We get the sense in our text --- that these Magi are not so quick to believe Herod..
We need to remember that the Magi are scholars and they have keen observation skills… It would be very difficult to pull the whool over their eyes....The Magi’s don’t say a word they are just listen to every word…that is spoken.... The Bible says they Listened and then they went on their way...
The best thing that we can do When we feel threatened is to Listen...
When Mary saw the Shepherds come and rejoice over Jesus… We are told that that she hid these things inside of her… She pondered and thought about the meaning of all that was being said…
The Bible has much to say about knowing about when to speak and when to listen… The Magi were taking it all in… I can imagine that they knew that something was wrong about the way that they had been approached by Herod.. This is confirmed later when God speaks to the Magi in a dream and warning them not to return to Herod.
We don't often think about the spiritual battle that is surrounding the Birth of Jesus. When you think that Jesus as infant would have been at His most vunerable point.. Enemy always tries and capitalizes on our weaknessess.. The enemy destructive plans.
There be dragons there… but when we recognize the threats.. We can trust Christ to pull down the enemies plan..
Isaiah 54:17 ESV
17 no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.”
Just like those ancient maps that said there are dragons there…
James Emory White…goes on tell us that there are other maps of the same error...
that held another image—Christ. For instance, The Psalter map (c. 1250), so called because it accompanied a copy of the book of Psalms, featured dragons on the bottom, as well as Jesus and the angels at the top. Such a map reminds us of the availability of "true north" as followers of Christ: Yes, there be dragons; but there is also Jesus and the angels. And we can follow him—and find our way.
T/s What we learn from the Magi is what it means to actively seek after Christ… And there are three movements that I want to point out in our text… .
The first is the...1. The Question of the Direction
2. We Quest of Threats: What are my challenges ?

3. The Quest of Worship: What are my Priorities?

When you think about your life there are different Priorities and different stages of your life… And you have different perspectives… I was reading this piece that Nancy Howser had written in Sports illustrated after her husband resigned as manager of baseball’s Kansas City royals following two surgeries for brain cancer.. She says that..
“As a child I was brought up to believe that it was not whether you won or lost, but how you played the game. Then, in the real world, I found that to be all wrong. There I learned you have to win to get anywhere, and it didn't matter how you did it. But now, after what has happened to [my husband] Dick, I realize that my priorities in the so-called real world were all wrong. Now Dick and I know that the old way was the right way. You know, it really ... and truly ... is how you play the game.”
What we learn from the Magi is the Priority of Worship.
When the Magi arrive in Jerusalem they had lost sight of the star…\… but then just as they were on the outskirts of the City… they get back on track… And the Star that they had been following reappeared… They GPS co ordinates reappear.
Matthew 2:9–10 ESV
9 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. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
The Magi could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! at the Right time....
Not only was the star visible - but it was leading them..
This is actually the first time we see the star was actually moving… This a little more than a supernova… because it literally hovers over the House that Mary and Joseph are staying in.. There is something supernatural here…
This is a beauty picture of how God used, amongst these astrologers, a star to make it clear exactly where Jesus was, leading to their introduction to Him. The fact that the world comes to Jesus in the first place is a wonderful indication of the universal significance that his birth is to have…it was and is for all nations… all ethnic groups...
Matthew 2:11–12 ESV
11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
We see here three different responses to Jesus; one may say that all people respond in one of these three ways.
· Herod displayed an open hatred and hostility toward Jesus.
· The chief priests and the scribes were indifferent toward Jesus, all the while retaining their religious respectability.
· The wise men sought out Jesus and worshipped Him – even at great cost.
These men traveled thousands of miles to see the king of the Jews. When they finally found him, they responded with joy, worship, and gifts.
When they see the Purpose of the whole Journey was to lead them to Christ.. to lead them into His presence… .. they are immediately Overcome with sense of Awe and they bow down to worship... they opened their luggage and the presented gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.... Isaiah saw this same event several hundred years before...
Isaiah 60:6 ESV
A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.
What these Magi brought was the Best of what they had… they opened up their treasures literally means the opening up of these caskets… these treasuries or storehouses of treasure… and out of there treasury the gave gold, frankincense, and myrrh… Worship is about opening up our hearts.. It is about bring our best…
The gifts that were presented probably had no symbolic intent but were simply gifts fit for a king. They are illustrative. First, gold is a gift for a king, and Matthew is introducing a King who is to rule not by force but by love, to express His will not with a crown but with a cross. Second, frankincense is said to be a gift for a priest, a sweet perfume used in temple sacrifice. Jesus, as King of kings, rules men on behalf of God, but as Priest He ministers on behalf of men to God. And third, myrrh is said to be the gift for one who is going to die. Early on the morning of the third day after Jesus’ Crucifixion, the women came to the tomb bringing spices such as this to anoint the body of Jesus.
CONCLUSION
Life is about a quest of finding out where we fit into the big scheme of things... Everyone is on a quest to find meaning and purpose in life --- we all feel that we have gifts and treasures....
something that needs to be expressed. Life is often about opportunities... and timing ...sometimes we miss opportunities and get off track.. But what joy when we find Christ... His Star.. right place at the right time... When we bring our gifts lay them down before the King..
The completion of joy the completion of meaning is found before the King.....
What is our posture of worship? How do you measure your posture? Look at what your are presenting before Christ... Look at your treasure...
The Magi worshipped the King. It was not because they were supposed to or because He required it, but because their hearts demanded it of them. They encountered the Word who became flesh, God with us, and they were never the same again.
All the more as Christmas nears, let’s seek God and give Him the worship and praise He rightly deserves. May He meet you in your gift and may you find Him like all wise men do.
Will you join me in prayer?
Father, thank You that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Please reveal the areas in our lives that reflect the heart of Herod. Please protect us from a familiarity with You and Your Word that circumvents our hearts. Give us hearts like the Magi, who sought You and worshipped You when they found You. Be present in our Christmas and be glorified in our lives. In Jesus’s name, amen.
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