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A Visit from a Magus

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                                           A Visit from a Magus

                                                           Matthew 2:1-12


Theme: The Lord's light leads us to glorifying and giving to the Christ.

Introduction: Epiphany

           A.I am a magus.  I come to you today, Epiphany Sunday

                      1.Do you know what a magus is?

                                 a.Some people have thought we are kings, but we are not

                                 b.Some consider us magicians

                                           (1)The word "magic" even comes from our name

                                           (2)Some of us were early scientists and to many that seemed magical

                                 c.Probably the main thing you know about us is that we came to visit Jesus

                      2.Do you know what Epiphany is?

                                 a.The word means "manifesting" or "presenting"

                                 b.You sing a song about it when you sing about the twelve days of Christmas, Epiphany Day is January 6, the twelfth day

                                 c.Epiphany celebrates our coming to see Jesus

           B.Matthew writes our story in his second chapter--Read Matthew 2:1-12

                      1.I want to help you understand this story and to see yourself in it

                      2.I will help you identify with the characters, the Who

                      3.Next I will indicate the significance of the places, the Where

                      4.Then we will examine the implications, the Why

II.The Identifications, the Who

           A.The Magi

                      1.We, magi, are wise men, an elite priesthood, counselors to kings, and representative for them

                                 a.We have both political and religious significance

                                 b.To put us in your terms, politically we are like your president's cabinet, religiously, we are like Catholic archbishops

                                 c.We were present in all the kingdoms to the east of Judah, Persia, Syria, and in Arabia

                      2.We, magi, have a long history

                                 a.One of the first ones written about is Balaam

                                           (1)Do you know of him?

                                           (2)He was hired by Balak, the King of Moab, to curse Israel

                                           (3)He could not curse Israel because he saw that a star would come out of Jacob, a scepter out of Israel, a ruler

                                 b.Later some of us magi came with the Queen of Sheba to offer gifts to the wise and powerful King Solomon, the son of David

                                 c.You hear about us again in connection with Daniel

                                 d.It is interesting that Israel took note of us at the beginning, high point, and end of their kingdom

                      3.We had come to honor Israel's kings in the past, and we were expected to come again when their king was born

                                 a.Isaiah expected that when Israel's great king came the kings of the nations would send gifts of honor

                                 b.The writer of Psalm 72 expected us to come with gold

                                 c.Even the promise to Abraham expected us to come

                      4.I am sure my forbearers were surprised that Jerusalem was disturbed by their coming.  They should have been expected

                                 a.But it is often outsiders, newcomers, who see things more clearly

                                 b.The magi came because they saw the light and understood


                      1.But there are other characters in the story whom I should tell you about

                      2.There was King Herod

                                 a.Herod was a clever, powerful, and ruthless leader

                                 b.He come to power by promising to help the Romans control Palestine since the Jewish leaders kept fighting among themselves

                                 c.He had killed some of his own sons whom we thought were threats to his rule

                      3.It was not surprising that Herod did not see the light

                                 a.Herod was not a Jew

                                 b.Herod did not want a Jewish Messiah

                                 c.Herod was concerned only for himself and his own power

           C.Jerusalem and the Jewish Leaders

                      1.What is surprising is Jerusalem and the Jewish leaders

                                 a.Why did they not see the light?

                                 b.Why were they disturbed when we came to them?

                      2.They knew their Scriptures, but they still did not see

                      3.They had hopes for a Messiah, but they did not act


                      1.I am a magus.  Who are you in this story?

                      2.Do you identify with me, a wise outsider seeking greater understanding?

                                 a.Do you sense something in this place or with this people that attracts you?

                                 b.Are you asking questions about what this group believes and does?

                      3.I hope you do not identify with Herod

                                 a.Many people cleverly and powerfully promote themselves

                                 b.They willfully reject God because he would demand changes

                                 c.If you identify with Herod, do not pretend to belong here

                      4.Are you a Jersalemite, maybe even a leader?

                                 a.A knowledgeable and good member of God's people

                                 b.Yet you are not sure how to answer a seeker, an outsider

                                 c.You long for growth and development in God's kingdom, but you have a hard time seeing it

                                 d.Something in you resist fully entering into God's work

III.The Indications, the Where

           A.The Place

                      1.Now we need to look at where we are going and how we know the way

                      2.We were first lead by the star to a place

                                 a.Many have speculated has to the nature of this star

                                 b.With our scientific knowledge of the heavens we knew when something new or unusual was happening

                                 c.We combined this with our religious and astrological beliefs to determine something was happening in Judah

                                 d.Thus we went to the capital city, Jerusalem

                      3.What has lead you to this place?

                                 a.Are you seeking something new, like us?

                                 b.Or are you a resident?  Is this place just part of your life?

                      4.Just coming to a place was not enough for us or the people of Jerusalem

           B.The Prophecy

                      1.At Jerusalem we were directed by prophecy, Israel's Scriptures

                      2.The Word of God made things more specific

                                 a.The prophecy led us to the specific place

                                 b.The prophecy prepared us for what we were to experience

                      3.At this place the Word of God leads you whether you are a seeker or a resident

                                 a.But knowledge of the Word is not the goal.

                                 b.It is not enough just to know Scripture

           C.The Person

                      1.Through the Word and the Star we were lead to a person, a child

                                 a.Without God's light we would not have come to the right place

                                 b.Without the Word and human interpretation of the Word we would not have advanced

                                 c.The human and the divine work together, but it is again the star which led us to the Christ child

                      2.The goal of this place and this Word is to lead you to the person of Christ

                                 a.It is to bring you into a personal relationship with God

                                 b.The goal is to move beyond knowledge to an experience, to an encounter

                      3.What is your star?  How can you be lead to this encounter?

                                 a.Your star is the Spirit of God

                                           (1)The Spirit leads you to this place through natural events

                                           (2)The Spirit leads you through the prophecy of the Word

                                           (3)The Spirit leads you to the person of Jesus

                                 b.But how do you know if you are being lead to Jesus?

                      4.Seeing the star brought us great joy

                                 a.This joy assured us that we were moving in the right direction

                                 b.Only we who followed the star knew this joy

                                 c.Too many stayed in Jerusalem with only  knowledge of the Word but without the joy of following the Spirit


5.The indications of moving in the right direction is the joy of following the Spirit

                                 a.Following the Sprit brings a delight to what you are doing

                                 b.The Spirit gives an excitement about the future, an expectation of meeting the King

                                 c.If you are excited before God about what you are doing, the Spirit is at work and leading you

                                 d.The route is directed by the Word and traveled by following the Spirit with joy, anticipation, and excitement

IV.The Implications, the Why

           A.The Glorifying

                      1.The implication of following the Spirit is that we were lead to glorify the Lord in worship

                                 a.If you are led to this place and through the Word by the Spirit, you will encounter the Lord and bow down in humble worship

                                 b.You will see and experience him here and in daily life

                                 c.Your eyes will be opened to see in Jesus a King, the Lord

                      2.We were the first to understand the implications of this child

                                 a.This child was the King of the Jews, but he was also the Lord of all people and nations

                                 b.This child would shepherd Israel and disciple the nations

                      3.All people are welcome to Bethlehem, to come to this King

                                 a.Seekers, outsiders, can come

                                 b.Jerusalemites, church-goers, can come anew and afresh

                                 c.Even Herod could have come, if he had changed his ways

                                 d.You can come.  You need to come and worship

           B.The Giving

                      1.We gave gifts of worship

                      2.Gold and incense were gifts of honor and worship

                                 a.They were the gifts we brought to Solomon with the Queen of Sheba

                                 b.They were the wealth Isaiah saw coming from the nations

                                 c.You, too, need to bring your gifts of worship

                                           (1)Not out of duty or just to pay the bills of the church

                                           (2)Gifts out of worship and honor to the Lord

                      3.Gold and incense are royal gifts, but people ask why myrrh

                                 a.Myrrh is a gift of love

                                           (1)It is the lover's perfume in the Song of Songs

                                           (2)It is the royal bridegroom's anointing in Psalm 45

                                 b.We brought more than honor to a king.  We brought our love to this child

                      4.The Lord desire your gift of love, your expression of love

                                 a.Those who love the Lord want to honor him in life, live with him in fellowship, please him with their actions, show their love

                                 b.Your love will show that you have seen and followed the star and come to the King

Conclusion: Representatives of a King

           A.We, magi, know a king when we see one

                      1.We know how to honor a king, to represent a king, to serve a king

                      2.We know it is a great honor to serve and represent a king

                                 a. It is a great responsibility

                                 b.It is the greatest joy

           BYou, too, can be a wise person, a representative of the King

                      1.The star still leads

                      2.The King is still here

                      3.Come and worship

                      4.Go and serve

                      5.Show your love in worship and in work

           C.You are the representatives of the King

                      1.You are his light, his stars, in this world

                      2.Go into your country and tell what you have seen, heard, and experienced of the King

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