Summary of sermon by Erlo Stegen, 6 Dec 2015
7 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, inquired of them exactly what time the star appeared.
8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child. And when you have found him, bring me word again so that I may come and worship him also.
16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked by the wise men, was greatly enraged. And he sent and killed all the boys in Bethlehem, and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had carefully inquired of the wise men.
Some deduct that it took the wise men 2 years from the time they first saw the star till they found the child, but we do not know if that was so. We do know that Herod calculated from what the wise men told him that Jesus could not be older than 2 years and that’s why he killed the children two years and under.
We also know that the wise men, for a while, took their eyes off the star. In life, and even in a Christian’s life, things don’t always go the way you think. Dear friend, never take your eyes off the star and follow your own imaginations and preconcieved ideas. Otherwise, if things don’t go according to your own liking then you turn your back on the Lord and all hell is let loose in your life. God makes it clear to us that our ways are not His ways and His ways are not our ways (Is 55:8-9).
It’s difficult for people to humble themselves. It is difficult to let go of your own way of thinking; to get to the point where one can say, ‘Lord not my will be done but Your will be done’.
These were wise men; when they saw the star, they recognized that a king had been born; even the Messiah had been born. They left their homes and occupations, their home and country, to follow this star that was to lead them to the King. But as they got close to Jerusalem, they no longer followed the star, but their own ideas. For them it was obvious that the King, the Messiah, must be born in the royal palace – in the city of Jerusalem. And that’s the danger for us too. We get to a point where we think we know and understand so much that we no longer need God’s guidance. Be watchful dear Christian that you don’t get to that point and then get off the right road.
When the wise men told their story in Jerusalem, Herod and the whole of Jerusalem were greatly distressed. Herod and the people of Jerusalem should have rejoiced, because this Child was God Himself. God left His throne in Heaven to become man. He came to help us, to help Herod and all the people of that time.
The wise men couldn’t believe that the King could be born in another place than Jerusalem, in the palace. It’s true that Jerusalem was the royal city, but when Herod got the news he called together all the religious leaders, the scribes and Pharisees, and they told him that the Messiah won’t be born in Jerusalem, but, as the Scripture says, in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). These religious leaders were intelligent, but they only looked at one side of the issue. They didn’t search the Scriptures to see what God said about the matter and then follow through to worship the Messiah of God. It’s tragic when children of the Lord, don’t follow Him with all their heart, but start to employ their own preconceptions. And so too with the wise men, God sent them the star to give them the message about the Messiah’s birth. They were probably very relieved when they saw the lights of the city, thinking that they’ve arrived.
The religious leaders knew that the Messiah would not be born in Jerusalem but Bethlehem, but they were nothing more than a road sign (which only points the road but is fixed into the ground and never goes to the place it directs to). Not one of them went there, but they pointed others there. It’s tragic if someone knows the truth and can tell others the truth about Jesus, but do not live it themselves. Are there such people in our midst?
There’s a church the Lord Jesus wrote about in Revelation that had a name of being alive but was dead (Rev 3:1).
The wise men couldn’t imagine that He would be born in a stable with the cows. After they realised their mistake, they rejoiced when they saw the star again and then followed it faithfully. As they followed the star, it led them to that lowly stable. Their dreams and imaginations were just rubble and shattered to pieces. Let’s give up our own ideas, thoughts and dreams and return to God’s Word and do what His word says.
There they found the Christ-child. Have you found the Christ-child, and bowed down to Him and worshipped Him? Or have you just heard about Him and tell others about Him, but you haven’t found Him yourself? Are you still only a road sign, or have you personally been to worship Him?
When the wise men worshipped the Child they presented Him with gold and myrrh and frankincense. Gold symbolizes that He is a King. Frankincense signifies that He is our Priest, and myrrh is a symbol of death and suffering. Herein we see their wisdom, in that they foresaw that He was our High Priest, who reconciles us to God through His Blood and that He is our King. They caught hold of this mystery that Christ is the King of kings and Lord of lords. It was all so prophetic of the way He would live and die.
These gifts were also of extremely high value. They weren’t stingy in the way they gave, and they also received much more in return from God. The wise men received salvation, saving grace and sustaining grace, which was invaluable, infinitely more than they had given. That’s the way it works with God. Whatever you do for Him, He always gives back much more.
Tunes (David and Jan)