Summary of sermon by Erlo Stegen, 04 Jan 2015
I will speak about these wise men from the East. We are not exactly sure where they came from because it just says the East but it could have been China or one of those lands there. That doesn’t trouble us exactly where they were from. But we know that they travelled very far to come to the Kong who had been born. Neither do we know who told them that this Child would be born. It is only the Bible that prophesies about His birth. There were no other historical references. But we do know there had been prophets like Daniel (who had lived most of his life in an Eastern kingdom) and others who had prophesied about it. The Magi saw the star and they said that indicated that the King had been born in Israel. Unfortunately, they presumed that if a king was born in Israel then he had to be born in Jerusalem, the capital. So they started their long journey to Jerusalem.
In Jerusalem they asked, “Where is the king? We have seen His star.” They were directed to Herod. Surely he would know. However when Herod heard this he was troubled together with the whole of Jerusalem. Why was Herod disturbed? If it was a baby, it was a long way off and he was elderly. He was troubled by his thinking that the king born was a threat to his position. Power is troublesome. Power and position cause the mind to not work properly. He was intoxicated with his power. Herod thought, “This is now a threat to my position.” Herod should have known. Perhaps he was worried about a family member being his heir and saw the birth of the King as a danger to his throne. Instead of rejoicing that the Messiah had been born this poison of power infected him.
Herod called the priests and scribes and all those who were “experts” in the Jewish Scriptures. He wanted to know where the king would be born because he didn’t know the Bible like some Christians who don’t know the Bible either. (When a heathen’s child becomes sick, he first goes to the witchdoctor to find out who bewitched his child. A heathen doesn’t think of the child being cold or neglected; he thinks the child has been bewitched. They look for different spirits and spells as being the cause. The Germans of old worshipped their gods and did not worship God or Jesus. Wodan was the chief god for the Germans. Our forefathers worshipped these gods. There was the god of thunder. Freyja was the god of love. Their witchcraft used the sounds of the horses. There was also the god of the harvest and fruitfulness. Whether it was a harvest or a woman that was barren, they went to these gods until the gospel came around the year 400. But then the gospel diminished – for it hadn’t taken root, some Englishmen brought the gospel back into the land of our forefathers. They came and in just a year 30 000 Germans converted.)
Herod called the wise men to one side and asked, “When was the child born? I also want to worship Him.” Yet had no intention of worshipping the child. He wanted to murder Him. Lying and hypocrisy is found everywhere. He said that he wanted to worship the child but he actually wanted to kill Him. If we were the Magi we might have thought: “Praise the Lord! Revival is breaking out”, but the truth was far from this foolish interpretation. Herod’s intentions were murderous.
The wise men went. A legend says that there were three wise men. But even if they were three there would have been a large entourage with them.
As they left Jerusalem the star appeared again. Somehow they had taken their eyes away from the star. How they rejoiced when they saw the star again. Before they were led by their own brains and their own intelligence by presuming that He must be born in Jerusalem. lt because of their going astray. The same with Sarah thinking that it was too late to have a child from Abraham so she, using her “common-sense” sent him to her maidservant. And how much trouble isn’tand we have trouble till today because of Ishmael’s birth.
If you are not lead by the Christ child, you will regret it for the rest of your life and you will say what a fool I have been. You too will fall if you remove your sight from the star (which is found in the Word of God). When they saw the star again they rejoiced and they followed it closely. Seeing the Christ-child they bowed and worshipped Him. Then they took out their gifts. They gave Him a gift of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold symbolised the royalty and kings. They worshipped the child because they knew he was a king. Then they took out frankincense. This signified divinity. They worshipped him as king and God. Myrrh is very bitter. It signified suffering and death. It is correct that they were called wise. By their gifts they signified that this child that was born was a king, was divine and the myrrh signified His suffering and death. It was used for embalming. This was a revelation from God. They didn’t just worship Him just as king but also as God. Though He was God He would suffer and die. Maybe we will meet with them in heaven and say, “You from the East, you had this revelation that a king had been born. You understood.” These were heathen men from the depth of heathendom, yet they caught the mystery. We Christians can learn wisdom from these heathen men.
Though they were heathen, they understood more than the scribes in Jerusalem and they preached a sermon that very few can.
God might speak in a dream. Joseph had a dream where an angel said, “Get up and take the child to Egypt.” Joseph and Mary could use these gifts to survive in Egypt. The wise men didn’t have to give Him money because Jesus owns all the gold and silver.
When these wise men were to return, God gave them a dream and said, “Don’t go to back to Herod.” and they took a different road. Joseph obeyed his dream from God to take the child and his mother to Egypt. He got up and obeyed. He said, “Mary get up.” I don’t think that Mary said, “How can you do this? I can’t take a long journey.”
Does this make sense to you? Has it found a place in your heart or will it disappear again? I will leave it at this point. My prayer is that your listening to this will not be in vain but will bring forth much fruit. If not why are you in the service? You should rather stay at home if God’s Word doesn’t find a place in your heart. If God speaks to you and you don’t follow Him you deserve a double hell. Jesus said that it would have been better that you had never heard. Even if all your friends forsake you but that you won’t forsake this. I hope this will be enough for the rest of your life.