“A Madman and Gifts for a King” The Christmas Story: Week 2 (Matthew 2:1-12)
There are a lot of miraculous things surrounding the story of Jesus’ birth. King Herod, the Wise Men, and the Star are all things that are hard to explain. They are also things that we often put a lot of speculation into and sometimes make our speculation more important than what the Bible actually says.
1. God’s Power
2. Man’s Response
If you have your bibles this morning, what a great morning it is to turn to Matthew chapter two as we look at a madman and the gifts brought for a king. We’re in the second week of our new December series called The Christmas Story.
If you remember last week, we saw the angel Gabriel. He went to visit Mary and told him, “Listen Mary, you’re gonna have a son. He’s gonna be named Jesus, and he’s gonna be the savior, king, messiah of the world.” After she processed that for a minute, she realized that God was gonna use her, and we looked at her song. We all it The Magnificat, and it’s just her glorious expression of praising God for who he is, the good news of God leading to the good news of the Christmas story.
Today, we’re gonna pick up the story many months at least, probably a couple years later when God sends a star to these Magi from the east, we read, and they come all the way to Jerusalem and eventually land in Bethlehem and they worship Christ the King.
It’s a wonderful and fascinating story. We ask questions about these wise men. Who are they? Who is this King Herod the Great guy and what about this star of Bethlehem? But not only is this story fascinating, it’s applicable, meaning it wasn’t just meant to be really cool for them then, it’s meant to actually apply to our lives today if we don’t let some of the distractions in this text take away from it.
So, as we get into the story, it was the time, the text tells us, of King Herod and these wise men who followed the star, came from the east, and they arrive in Jerusalem and they have this audience with the king, and what do they say? “Can you tell us where this king of the Jews has been born?”
Now, King Herod being the character that he is started to freak out a little bit, but before we get into how he freaked out and what he wanted to do, there’s some things in this passage of scripture that I want us to not just get out of the way, but to use and build context from so that we can see what the true meaning of the text is.
And if we’re not careful, these first three things I want to talk about will take us on a journey of speculation and actually distract from what the main meaning of the text is. What are these three things that I’m talking about? Well, one, it’s King Herod. Lots of questions about him. Two, it’s these Magi we need to discuss, and who are they, where are they from, and how do they contribute to the story, and the third thing in this text that can be a speculative distraction if we’re not careful is this star, all three contributing to this story. Let’s get these three things, not out of the way, but build them in context so we can see that the point of this text is to be like the Magi, to worship Christ for who he is.
So, let’s start with King Herod. King Herod I’ve labeled a madman. Although he was a madman, he was brilliant. King Herod was an assistant ruler, if you will, in the days when Jesus was born. Now, the title King was given to him, kind of a self-given title, but it really didn’t describe him. See, King Herod, though he was called a king, didn’t really perform as a king. Why? Because he didn’t have the power of a king. Though he’s called king, who had the real power in Jerusalem in this day? Rome did. He still had to submit to Caesar and the Roman Empire, but he did have some power and he did have some authority.
He couldn’t have been a king because he wasn’t in the bloodline of David. He couldn’t have been a king of Judah because that was not a position that God called him to, but even though it wasn’t a position he should’ve held, he was still a fantastic leader for Israel in this day and age. Herod accomplished things in Israel, and particularly in Jerusalem, that no one else had ever accomplished. Therefore, they labeled him Herod the Great.
Even today, if you travel to Jerusalem, all of the things that we want to look at from the day of Jesus, most of them have Herod’s name on it. I mean, not like he signed it, but somehow he contributed to it and he helped build it. For example, the greatest thing that he did, even on top of the peace that he helped establish, even on top of the relationships that he was building, the greatest thing that the people saw that Herod did was to rebuild the temple from the glory that it was in Solomon’s day.
This is a huge fact. We kind of just say it and be like, “Oh, that’s cool.” No, it was huge for the Israelite people. See, the presence of God for the Israelites was in the temple, and when Herod built the temple again, they saw that as Herod being used by God to bring his presence back to his people in their land. So, he was kind of a superstar for doing that. The sacrificial system started going again. They saw God’s presence being within their land.
He did many great things. In fact, some of Herod’s success I believe contributed to some of the people and their pushback against Jesus. See, Jesus was born right after Herod’s time in rule. The temple had just been built, but what does Jesus do? He kind of blows up the whole thing, doesn’t he? He doesn’t say, “Let’s go to the temple to worship God where his presence is through the sacrificial system.” Jesus has the audacity in his life to say, “I am the temple. But you may tear down, I’ll rebuild it in three days. Not only that, but if you would believe in me,” in fact, Paul carries the thought further, “You will be the temple and Christ through his spirit will live in you.” You want to talk about a building project? One just small project over here. They just saw a multi … Back then, would’ve been a multi-billion dollar project just be finished, and now Jesus is changing it.
There was some pushback because of Herod’s greatness. But I want to tell you, despite his greatness, he was also cray cray, as the kids like to say today. Herod was crazy. He loved power. Though he was a great and brilliant architect, he was a fantastic master builder, he was a liaison with the people, he brought peace, he did not like people messing with his power. He killed his own wife and other family members just because he thought they wanted a piece of the power that he had.
So, it shouldn’t surprise us when the Magi come and they ask, “Where is this King of the Jews born?” And once he asks the Jewish leaders, the high priest and the scribes, “Where is this guy gonna be born?” They tell him, “Bethlehem,” that he goes out and tries to kill him. A madman who would kill his own family would have no problem killing another Jewish boy that wanted to compete with his power, but here’s the reality. God says, “You can’t touch this.”
Despite the fact that he knew where Jesus was gonna be born and the fact that he was already crazy, God put Jesus just out of his reach, and I want to tell you, Herod couldn’t destroy Jesus and the message of salvation that he brought and neither can anybody today. We shouldn’t be worried at all these attempts that are trying to come after Jesus, especially his Christmas. You can’t take Christ out of Christmas. Don’t worry about that. You can’t remove the power of the gospel. We can let it live through us, but God is God. If King Herod can’t do it in all of his power and might, no one else can, either.
So this is Herod. He was a sick and confused, yet powerful man. Now that we know who Herod is, let’s move on to the other aspect of this passage that’s interesting at least, but we shouldn’t let it be a distraction, and that’s these three men. Well, actually, you know what? We don’t even know if there’s three of them. These men that the bible calls Magi, or wise men. We’ve gone so far as to call them three kings from the orient.
Here’s the reality. We don’t know that to be true at all. I think there’s a lot of speculation that comes from the study of the Magi throughout history, and if you’re not careful, whether it be King Herod, the Magi, or especially the star we’re fixing to talk about, these can become distraction to cause you to miss the main point of the text.
All we know about these Magi is that this term Magi means one who studies the stars. We know that because they saw a star and somehow it led them to Jerusalem and miraculously it somehow physically led them from Jerusalem five miles down the road to Bethlehem. So we know that they’re from the east. We can speculate, maybe from Babylon. I don’t know. They could’ve been from Turkey.
We speculate that there were three of them. How many times in your life have you thought through every nativity scene that you’ve ever seen that there were three, factually, three wise men? We all think that. I’m not saying that’s like illegal or anything, but the text doesn’t tell us that. It just says there were Magi from the east. Why do we think there’s three of them? Because they brought three gifts. You know, two of them could’ve brought three gifts. On Christmas morning, have you ever given one of your children more than one gift? I’m sure you have, yeah, yeah. Everyone’s like, “More than one? I wish. Two or three.” It could’ve been 10 Magi from the east that brought three gifts. We don’t know.
We surely don’t know that they were kings or that they were from the orient. We know that they came and don’t forget the main point that they came for, they achieved. Look at verse two. The wise men came to worship him. Yes, from the east, yes, they studied the stars, but this is the point that you don’t want to miss. In fact, this is gonna be the main application from this text for your life today. They came to worship him and so should we.
This term, for worship, should consume a lot more of your energy than trying to study where they came from and who they were. We don’t know that much about them, but this term worship is the Greek term [persuce 00:10:14] and here’s what it means. It means to fall on your face to the ground. I’m talking nose in the dirt, palms in the dirt, and bowing down fully pronated in worship.
Now, who do you do that for? Not just paying homage to a king. If they were gonna do that, they would’ve fallen on their face before Herod. There’s no record on them falling on their face before Herod. They would only do that in worship of who? God. So these probably gentiles from the east came all the way to Jerusalem, risked their lives in front of the king to get to Bethlehem to fall on their face and worship the king of kings and the Lord of Lords and to bring him gifts as illustration of their worship. Don’t miss that, and don’t go too far in your study of them.
Let’s move on. The third thing I want to talk about as we get into the meat of this text is this star. This is probably the most obscure piece of information in the Christmas story that has the most speculation associated with it. I don’t know how to explain to you the star being revealed to the Magi. I don’t understand how they studied it, why they studied it, and surely don’t understand how the source of light that the bible calls a star could physically travel from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, and neither do you.
You may know more than I do about it, but the text does not tell us specifics. But yet I know people that have spent a long time, maybe even a whole sermon series, just about the speculation surrounding this star. There’s even a documentary about it, and I would tell you, watch the documentary, The Star of Bethlehem. That’s really cool.
And it’s interesting to note, if we could, that throughout history, there’s been record of either the universe showing the star for a second disappearing or the planets aligning so that the star was appearing, and if that helps your logical mind, so be it, but don’t get distracted by it. The point is, it was a miracle, whether you can explain it or not.
In fact, the whole Christmas story, the whole gospel like I said last week, is a miracle. Why? Because God did it. He did something that you cannot do. Whether he uses a star that was already there, whether he put a star in the place for a few months and then took it away, or whether it was planets that aligned, God did it. It was a miracle that a virgin had a child. It was a miracle that the Magi even knew to look for the king of the Jews through this star. It’s a miracle that he survived the journey that he was born. It’s a miracle that he lived a perfect life. It’s a miracle that he could atone for sin. It’s a miracle that he rose from the dead. It’s a miracle that he ascended into heaven without dying and it’s a miracle that he can give you salvation from your sin. So, don’t study it so much that you get distracted, that you miss God’s power in it.
And this point, although this is really cool. I love the star. I love studying it. I love the Magi and thinking about it, although we don’t want to speculate. I love King Herod and the role that he plays. Because these details are not the main point of the text, it gives you an opportunity to say this. Please don’t miss this. When you’re reading the bible, don’t magnify the marginal for the benefit of your study. Many of you have been Christians for a long time, and if you’re not careful, just reading the bible isn’t enough for you anymore. So what you want to do is you want to find some cool fact that nobody else has ever seen, some piece of nugget that you can use to show and to magnify your intelligence with the text. I run into this danger probably as much, probably more than anybody here today. But be careful not to magnify the marginal and the marginal to supersede the clear great points of the bible.
This happens in the Christmas story, with the Magi. It happens with Herod a little bit. It definitely happens with the star, but the place that we see this happening the most, you know it, where? Is from the Book of Revelation. John Poplar makes the point that these details give you a mindset for the marginal, and most of the people that have a mindset for the marginal or that magnify the marginal, as I like to say, they miss the great and awesome truths of the scripture just for a little bit deeper study for their own intelligence.
For example, those in the Book of Revelation can become prideful about the date that they know that you don’t know that Jesus is coming back, and they’ll tell you and they’ll write books about it and you’ll buy them and you’ll come tell me about it and I want to tell you, you’re wrong every time because Jesus says, “I don’t even know.” And many time, we go to Revelation and we study these marginal facts and we magnify them, we do it under the guise of, “I want to be ready when he comes back.”
Let me help you with all that. This is how you become ready. Know Jesus as your savior. Have a deep abiding relationship with him, and whatever the blood moon means and whenever it comes and however you understand it, you’re gonna be ready because you have an abiding relationship with the king of the universe. A lot of times when you magnify the marginal, you marginalize the magnitude of the main message. Many people who magnify the marginal, they don’t think about the holiness of God enough and the grandeur of God, or what about the sinfulness of man or the amazing reality that we have atonement for sin, and justification of sin by the sacrifice on the cross alone? The resurrection power that you have access to that gives you salvation? The glorification of our savior, his ascension, and then the fact that he’s coming again, you don’t know when, and he’s coming again in judgment.
The point is not that you know all the details perfectly the bible doesn’t tell you the answers to. The point is not that you know the exact date or the exact time. The point is, are you ready, and do you worship him?
So now that we’ve built some of the context of these issues, let’s use them to celebrate God’s power that we see in this passage of scripture. That’s what I want you to do today. As we walk through the rest of the story, I want you to celebrate God’s power and think about, like the characters in the story, how do I respond to God’s power?
So we pick the story back up after the Magi came to visit Herod and they said to him, “Where is this king of the Jews gonna be born?” Notice what happens next. King of the Jews? Wait a second. King Herod’s thinking, “I’m the King of the Jews. I’m the King of Judah.” He goes to his scholars, the scribes, the Pharisees, and the high priests, and he says, “Will you tell me where this king’s being born?”
Here’s a fact that I think is greater than who are the Magi. Here’s the fact that I think is greater than where the star came from. It’s how they responded. Look here in verse six. When Herod calls together all of the Jewish leaders, he says, “Where is this Messiah King to be born?” They don’t hesitate. They don’t research. They simply quote scripture. They knew the answer. They quote Micah chapter five verse two where it says, “And you, O Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah, for out of you shall come forth a ruler,” that means king, “Who will be shepherd to my people, Israel.”
Do you get that? The Jewish leaders knew the answer. They give it to Herod. Now he’s gonna go and try to kill Jesus. God says again, “You can’t touch this,” but don’t miss the fact that these Jewish leaders knew the answers and they didn’t do anything about it. Doesn’t that strike you as odd that they’d been waiting for thousands of years for the Messiah, the miracle of the Messiah being revealed to these guys from the east that are gentiles, have come to visit the Messiah, and they give the answer knowing where the messiah’s gonna be born, but they don’t even go and investigate it? That blows my mind. Where was their heart? They don’t go. Herod tries to go. They tell Herod where he was, but you know who does go? The Magi, they go, and the story goes on.
The star miraculously appeared. Now, it miraculously led them from Jerusalem five miles away to Bethlehem. They come to the house. Jesus was probably already a toddler at the time. They knock on the door, and then we have described in verse 11 that they do what they came to do. They open the door, whatever. They saw Jesus for the first time. They fall on their face. Again, they prostrate themselves before the God-man. They worship him. They give him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
After maybe days of worship … I don’t know what happened. It was probably awesome for them and for the parents of Jesus, as Jesus is just a little child. He probably doesn’t quite know what’s going on yet, or maybe he does. He’s Jesus, whatever. They go back home a different way, again a miracle so they don’t have to interact with King Herod, and this is the story.
What I want you to see is God’s power and man’s response to his power. So, let’s work through how God’s power again is revealed in this text. You see it in the Magi, don’t you, that however God worked out through history, through the study of astrology, that there was this star or star formation that was gonna appear, that these guys from the east, these scholars from the east knew about, and when it appeared, that they followed it in some way to Jerusalem and then from Jerusalem to Bethlehem? That’s God’s power. That’s God’s power manipulating the universe to point gentiles to his son.
So in Matthew, a very Jewish gospel from the beginning, you have gentiles coming to the savior of the world. Not just the savior of the Jews, but the savior of Jews and gentiles alike. Matthew follows that up at the end of the book in Matthew chapter 28 with Jesus being the savior of the Jew and the gentiles. Well, when he tells his disciples, “Don’t just go around Jerusalem and share the message of Christ,” what does he tell us in Matthew 28 verses 18 through 20? “Go and make disciples of all nations, Jew and Gentile, white and black and Hispanic, every color, every people group, every nation, and you tell them the message of Christ. You baptize them and you teach them all that he commands you to do.” He says, “Surely I will be with you always to the end of the age.” This is God’s hand of power in Matthew.
You see it not only in the Magi, but you see it in the labels that are given to Jesus: king, messiah, and savior. That’s all God’s hand. You see it in the star. You see it also in the label of Bethlehem. This is God’s power. The word Bethlehem literally means house of bread, and from the house of bread, we learn from John, came the bread of life that satisfies all of humanity’s longing for a savior. You see it in the title that they give Bethlehem and delivering them a shepherd. Not only the bread of life came there, but he would be the shepherd to God’s people. What does a shepherd do? He guides, protects, and provides that Jesus is the good shepherd of your soul.
We also see God’s power in protecting Jesus from Herod. This guy who rebuilt the temple, who brought peace to a nation that was at war, who did all these mighty things, he couldn’t get a little baby five miles away from his hometown. That’s God’s power, God protecting.
You see again and again God’s power being shown in this text so that we see Jesus for who he is, but here’s the question. Do you see God’s power in this text? If you say, “Mm-hmm, sure,” shake your head like this, then allow it to cause you to believe in him, believe in him to be your messiah, king, and savior. If you’ve never trusted in Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior, if you repent and believe, he could be your savior today. Believe in him, that it’s not just a story meant for them long ago. Believe in him and let it impact you today. Don’t get lost in the marginal details of the story, but see God for who he is and worship him.
This is what you should response to be, but look at some of the other responses that we see to God’s power revealed in Christ. Warren Wiersbe says that Herod was opposing the king, that the Jewish leaders were ignoring the king, that these wise men, these Magi were seeking and worshiping the king. That was the response we see in the text.
What’s your response to God’s power today? I think there’s a couple options. If you read day nine in your advent guide, which by the way, if you didn’t pick it up last week, you can pick it up this week, this passage of scripture that we’re studying today is gonna relate to your readings both today and throughout the rest of the week if you’ve already done it. If you haven’t done it yet, you don’t even have it, don’t stress out, right? You didn’t lose your salvation just because you didn’t pick up the advent guide. Just pick it up today in welcome hallway and you can start on day one, but on day nine, John Piper does a fantastic job of seeing these responses and he labels the first two responses both from King Herod and the Jewish leaders as opposition.
One of the responses that we see to Jesus in the Christmas season is opposition. The first type of opposition that I see is illustrated in King Herod. King Herod was aggressively opposing Jesus. He was in fact, the word could be used as he was hostile towards Jesus, so let me encourage you today, though you’re probably not, don’t be hostile to Jesus as the revealed power of God in the Christmas story.
You may not be hostile, but don’t you see some hostility in our society today for Christ at Christmas? I mean, how many businesses refuse to say, “Merry Christmas,” and just kind of go to, “Happy Holidays”? Don’t let that stress you out too much. Just a small illustration.
Remember in 2011 when the atheist group went to Athens, Texas and tried to get the nativity scene removed, right? The people in Athens I think did a great job of responding. They weren’t worried about baby Jesus being removed, although they didn’t want that. They were more worried about how they showed Jesus in their lifestyle to these atheist unbelievers.
There’s gonna be opposition to Jesus at Christmas. Don’t be a part of the opposition would be my first admission to you. Let Jesus in. Yes, he may come in and he may wreck shop and want to change stuff in you and make you accountable and tell you to stop doing the things you were doing and ask you to do different things that you’re not doing, but I want to tell you, what he wants you to do is better than what you want to do for yourself, so don’t oppose Jesus in your own life, but the question is, when the world is opposing Jesus, how do you respond to their opposition? Are you more focused on defending baby Jesus? He doesn’t need your defense. Or are you more focused on showing Jesus despite their opposition?
So we see opposition to Jesus in the form of hostility, but the second one I believe is gonna hit you square between the eyes like it hit me. The second type of opposition we see in the text comes from who? The Jewish leaders who knew better. They heard the message of the Messiah coming to be born in Bethlehem. They memorized Micah 5:2, which shared that message. They repeated that message, but then they ignored the message. They were indifferent to the message of Christ at Christmas.
Don’t be indifferent to the message of Christ at Christmas. You’re like, “Pastor, I would never do that.” Is that not what we see in our everyday lives, in all, most, maybe not all, but most of American Christianity? Do we not already have the message of Christ told again and again and again? Do we not hear it preached every Christmas, but yet do we not still become indifferent to it? Do we still not ignore it just like the Jewish leaders did?
See, here’s the thing with the bible. You can read it and learn something new from it. You can even memorize it and do nothing with it. You can have the facts of the bible down, but not understand the true meaning of the bible if you do not apply it. Let me say it simply like this. The bible is not done with you when you learn something new about it. The bible is not done with you when you memorize it. The bible is not done with you until it transforms something inside of you. That’s what the priest missed, the Jewish leaders that knew it and they memorized it. They weren’t transformed by it, though Jesus was just five miles away. The Messiah could’ve been just a walk from their worship. Not only did they not go and worship like the Magi. They didn’t even investigate it to see if it was true. They might as well have been a million miles away. They completely missed it. They were indifferent to it.
Don’t let it happen to you. Let Jesus the messiah king be more to you like I said in my prayer than just an addition to your Christmas decorations that you have at the center of your nativity scene. Let him be the messiah king that actually impacts you, changes you, lives through you, and that other people can see in you.
So we have Herod’s response. We have the Jewish leaders’ response, which is indifference, and it hurts me to see that happen in our society, but look at the last response we see from the Magi. This is what God wants from us. What do they do? They listen, they obey, they go, and they worship him.
Church, let your response to the power of God revealed in Christ at Christmas be one of worship. Truly worship Christ this time of year. Let me tell you, the world’s already set it up for you, right? It’s like they’ve given you that pass on the basketball court and you’re wide open if you’ll take the shot. It’s like they set you up for that beautiful spike. They already start thinking about Christmas in October, November, but especially in December. The trees, the lights are everywhere. Red and green looks like it threw up on our entire nation, right?
You already do traditions this time of year. Many of you tell me the stories about how you give your kids a stocking every single day of December. That’s a fantastic idea. Many of you give your children candy every day this time of year and some of you have it hidden in boxes or in gifts. That’s cool. Do that, too.
So many of you are already doing so many of these traditions revolved around Christmas this time of year. What I’m asking you to do is not stop doing them. I’m not dogging on you for doing them. I think they’re fantastic and they’re great. I’m asking you to leverage the time that you already have. Leverage the traditions you already do. When you’re doing the stockings, make it about Jesus, or at least tie him into it to be the pinnacle of it. When you’re giving the candy, tie it to Jesus. Get this advent guide and print it off, or you can go download it. Go to Google, type in John Piper’s Good News of Great Joy. It’s gonna take you to the Desiring God website and the Desiring God people, they want to give it to you for free, right? You can pick up a paper copy today in welcome hall or you can just download it. Look at it on your phone every night. Talk about Jesus with your children.
Leverage the time that you already have, but for Christ’s sake, and I don’t mean that like as a cuss word, for Christ’s sake, at Christmas, don’t let commercialization of Christmas take over your household. Don’t let the thing that your children get excited the most about be the candy, the stockings, and the gifts. Leverage it and let Jesus Christ be the pinnacle of your Christmas celebration.
And if you’re sitting there wondering, “Hmm, do I need some reform in this area?” Let me just talk plainly to you for a second. Your children, which we make Christmas all about children these days. That’s okay. Your children will worship what you worship and what you teach them to worship. Let me frame it another way. If you’re wondering if you need reform in this area of Christmas celebration during December, what are you teaching your children to be the most excited about this time of year?
You grandparents are like, “Phew, I’m off he hook.” Nope. Grandma and Grandpa, what are you teaching your grandchildren to be the most excited about this time of year? I think if you just ask yourself that question, I don’t even have to answer it for you.
Let that sink in and then if you need reforming in your heart like I do, like I did this week, then just ask God to reform you and use the time that you already have and the gifts that you already give to point people to Christ because he is worthy of your worship this time of year. How did the Magi do it? They show up, they fall on their face, they worship, and they give gifts to the king, of what? Gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Now, I could get into how gold illustrates the kingliness of Christ and the frankincense associated with his death. We could tie all that together and it would be pretty, but let me just tell you, they gave Jesus gifts not to help a brother out. They gave Jesus gifts. He didn’t need to be helped out. God doesn’t need it from you. They gave Jesus gifts as an illustration of their worship, and after they were done, they didn’t go … Well, we don’t know for sure, but I can’t imagine they went to life back to normal again.
Let me let that walk in your life for a second. Today we have a wonderful text with wonderful opportunities for application, but many of us if not all of us are gonna wake up Monday morning and it’s gonna be what? Business as usual. Gonna go back to whatever you’re doing with your children at home if you’re a stay-at-home mom. You’re gonna go back to school and you’re gonna teach, you’re gonna lead. You’re gonna go back to the fire department, and it’s just gonna be business as usual.
Let me encourage you that I don’t think that’s what the Magi did. If I was the Magi and I went and I was interacting with the king of kings, I was able to see the prince of peace with my eyes, if God almighty was in … Well, maybe he was standing and I worshiped him, I wouldn’t just go back to my astrology job and be like, “Oh that was cool, we found the king of the Jews. Let’s see other cool things we can find out about the stars.” No, it would’ve changed everything. There would be no more business as usual. I would take Jesus, my new messiah king, and share it with everybody that I knew.
So when you wake up Monday morning at Christmas, you can worship Christ by not going back to business as usual, because after Jesus, church, business should never be as usual again, unless business as usual means taking Jesus with you to everywhere you go and every job that you have, unless business as usual means when people look at you, they see Jesus flowing from you. If that’s what business as usual means, well then I guess go back to business as usual, but for most of us, it doesn’t mean that. Let Jesus change everything that you do.
And the gifts. They brought three gifts. And some people say, “Oh, well, Jesus needed the gold to set up his ministry.” Really? The guy that owns the cattle on a thousand hills needed some gold from some guys from the east? Maybe he used it. I don’t know, but I’m gonna tell you what, God didn’t need it. He didn’t need a handout and he didn’t need a help up. They brought their gifts to him for him as an illustration of their worship and this is why you should give gifts to God, as well, and maybe even work it into the gifts for your kids, but we’ll do that another time.
But when you give to God, whether it be money or time, please don’t look at it like you’re helping God out and giving to the budget, you’re helping God out and supporting the building project. We’re gonna celebrate today. It’s gonna be awesome. I’m helping God out by supporting this missions thing. No, no, no. Look at it like, “I’m giving an illustration of my worship to him because he is worthy.”
See, when you give God your time like they gave Jesus gifts and you give God your money, when you give it to him, you’re saying, “You, Lord, are more important to me than this money. You, Lord, are more important to me than this time. I give this to you because there’s no competition between you and them in the throne of my heart,” and the more you give and the more time you sacrifice, the louder that message is to your heart. The more money you give to Jesus and his whatever he wants you to give it to, the less you will be able to worship that money in your life. Just think about that for a few minutes this morning.
What is your response to God’s power revealed in Christ in the Christmas story? I pray it wouldn’t be hostility. I look around and I see your eyes and I don’t see hostility, but if it is, stop being hostile towards Jesus. You’re not gonna get anywhere. That’s a battle you can’t win. More likely, it’s probably indifference, isn’t it? Not letting the Christmas story impact you. Maybe you just need to give him some priority this time of year. Maybe like the gifts, you need to re-look at how you give. I don’t know what it is, but whatever it is, would you just respond to him this morning?
May 12, 2019