Sermon on Matthew 2:1-12

Epiphany Sunday

A Walk to Worship

Text:  Matthew 2:1-12

I.

Some of you know that recently we went on a little trip.  It was nice to get away for a while.  We found it very refreshing to have a change of scenery for once.  And it ended up being a very memorable trip.  We traveled around 600 miles in one direction, about the distance from Palm Coast to Nashville, TN.  Not as long as some other trips, but still a considerable distance to travel.  It was a little more arduous than most though because we didn’t fly.  We stuck to the roads that led there—that is, if you want to call them roads.  Needless to say, it was a very rough and bumpy journey and it ended up taking us quite a while to get there.

Yes, it was nice to get away for a while, but that wasn’t the point of us going.  We were off to see someone there.  We really wanted to see a leader who was going to be in town.  There were hundreds of little snippets written about him and his appearance.  As we read all about it we became very excited and we wanted to see this great leader, too.  The whole way there we continually discussed what it was going to be like to see in person someone so important.  You can imagine if you had the opportunity to meet the President or some great leader from the past like Winston Churchill.  I’m sure you would be excited, too.

Finally we pulled into town.  We were getting close!  We quickly made our way to the place where we expected to find him.  The excitement was building.  Our palms were sweaty.  Our hearts were racing.  We had goose bumps on our arms and neck.

We walked through the door and entered the building.  Then we saw him.  He didn’t look like one who had so much power and authority.  Perhaps most people wouldn’t even be able to distinguish him from any other face in the crowd.  But we knew exactly who he was.

As we approached him we found him to be so meek and so mild.  He was also quite cute (he was bouncing up and down on his mother’s lap at the time).  Though the baby was so small and so frail, yet as we approached we humbly knelt down onto our knees.  Then with absolute reverence we bowed low until prostrate on the ground.

Wiping the tears from our eyes, we could hardly believe what we were seeing.  He looked like any ordinary baby, but he wasn’t.  It was God come in human flesh.  It was God come to be with us.  It was God who came for us, and we were staring at the godhead veiled in human flesh with our own eyes!

He was the reason why we came in the first place.  He was the reason why we rode camels and walked by foot over 600 miles from Persia over rocky and arid desert terrain.  He was the reason why we didn’t care that the journey took us about two months in one direction.  We had come to see God in human flesh.

You see, we had been reading about this baby.  Even though we were Gentiles living in Persia, or what you would know as Iran and Iraq, we had been reading all about it.  I’m not really sure how the Old Testament ever really made it to our part of the world.  Likely it came with Daniel and other Jews when they were taken off into exile to Babylon 600 years before.  Regardless of the reason, we thank God that we had a copy of Scripture to read and study from.  And we sure did!  We knew all the prophecies about the Messiah whom God would send.  It was part of our job as Magoi to be knowledgeable men in Persia—knowledgeable in literature, astronomy, astrology, magic and more.  That’s why we Magoi (or Magi) are often called Wise Men.

But as we read these Old Testament Scriptures, God revealed something to us—that he was going to send a Savior for sin.  What a relief!  What a comfort!  What a joy to know that God would deliver his people from their sins!  For surely we Wise Men know that we are sinners.  Too often we would slip into some of our old bad habits.  Maybe you have some of your own bad habits that are difficult to break.  For us, it was getting tangled in our surrounding heathen culture.  We served a government and a king that relied on magic and astrology and other superstitious practices.  Sometimes we became a little too involved in this work we were required to do.  Other times we had trouble resisting some of the other alluring temptations of our culture.  Persia took great delight in adulterous practices.  As I said, we were often around the royalty, so we would often witness his hedonistic practices with his harem.  Let me tell you, Tiger Woods couldn’t come close to some of the things we saw.

I’m sure you understand.  It’s easy to fall prey to your surrounding culture.  It’s easy to succumb to the pressures and temptations around.  It’s easy to slip into bad habits of sinful activity.  We did it too.

That’s why we became so overjoyed as we read and studied the Word of God.  The Lord promised to send a Messiah.  He promised a Savior who would come to take away sin.  How our hearts were filled with joy as we read Isaiah about the one who would be Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Then one day we saw an unusual star in the sky.  As men who had a knowledge of the sky, we knew it wasn’t any ordinary star.  We also knew well that the prophet Micah said in chapter 5, But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.” We knew the time had finally come.  So we packed our bags, we loaded our camels, and we followed the star for two months on our way to Israel.  We set out on a Walk to Worship the King.

First we went to Jerusalem, the capital city, thinking that the newborn king would be there.  We asked King Herod where the ruler was who was born king of the Jews.  King Herod didn’t take that very well.  He sent us out to find this child, but we could tell he had something bad in mind.

We followed the star another six miles to Bethlehem where it finally came to rest.  It didn’t stop over a stable as most people think (and as most manger scenes show).  This was a while later after the birth.  The star came to stop over a house.  That’s when we entered the house and saw him—the Christchild come to save mankind.

I can hardly describe how our hearts leapt for joy. Knowing Isaiah’s words in chapter 53 that soon this child would be pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities we could only but fall at his feet and worship him.  For that is what we came to do—give him our highest worship and praise.  We offered our Savior the best treasures we possibly could afford:  gold, which was fitting for our King; frankincense which was often burnt in worship, fitting as we worshiped our God; and myrrh, which was a fragrant incense for anointing the dead, fitting for the one who would soon die for us.  Our two months of treacherous travel suddenly had purpose.  Our lives filled with sin and riddled with guilt suddenly had meaning.  Our Savior had come!

I’m sure you can understand the joy and the peace we felt.  Perhaps your joy and peace are even greater!  Just think, you don’t have to walk 600 miles to worship the Lord.  Some of you don’t even have to travel six blocks!  You don’t have to walk a rocky and bumpy desert road to worship, you can ride in your high speed cars on smooth pavement.  You don’t have to worship the Savior in a stable or in a house like we did.  You get to meet in a public place, and soon you’ll have a brand new facility dedicated just for worshiping him.  How cool!

What joy and peace are also yours in knowing what Jesus came for.  Knowing that this was the one who came to be our Savior from sin, knowing that this child would grow to be the one to shed his blood and give his life for our salvation, we were willing to travel any lengths to see him.  We would walk any distance to worship him.  We wanted to give him the best offerings we could possibly afford.

I’m sure that joy and peace are also yours.  Having the convenience of worshiping at a church right around the corner, and knowing that the Savior has already come, and knowing that your sins are already paid for, I’m sure you do the same as we Wise Men did.  How could we do anything different, right?  Why wouldn’t we travel at any cost through any conditions and during any circumstances to worship him when we have the chance?  Why wouldn’t we be overflowing with joy in knowing that sin has been paid for?  Why wouldn’t we give to God our very best knowing that he gave his own Son to us?  What a joy it is for us all to come and fall at the feet our King Jesus and to worship him!

II.

That sure was some journey!  I’ll never forget the amazing experience of meeting my Savior face to face.  When we had finished worshiping him, we followed the Lord’s advice given in a dream and we headed back to Persia by a different route.

But now we are on a different journey.  We Wise Men are traveling on a different Walk to Worship.  You are on that journey with us.  We are all traveling down the road to eternal life.  Jesus put us on that road.  He opened the doors of paradise, and we who believe in him are on our way there.

What a joy it will be for us all to reach the end of this journey.  For once more we will see our Savior face to face.  But this time we won’t see him in such a meek and humble state.  This time we will see him in full glory sitting on his throne in heaven.  And the reaction will be the same.  Having traveled so long and so hard through this life, and knowing that he is the one who saved us from sin and gave us the gift of heaven, we will once more kneel before him.  We will fall prostrate on the ground to worship and praise him.  We will give him our very best and our very all.

We all are on the narrow path to heaven.  That newborn child I saw in Bethlehem saved us from our sin.  Now we are on a Walk to Worship him with all believers in paradise.  By faith in that Christchild you are saved.  By faith in that Christchild your sins have been washed away.  By faith in that Christchild you will enter the joys of heaven.  And that, my friends, makes you “wise men” too.

AMEN


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Posted on January 3, 2010, in Church, Sermons and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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