(Christmas Message)

"3 MEN AND A BABY!"

 

TEXT:         Matt. 2:1-12

 

INTRO:       What if Christ had not come? 

 

ILLUS:     A striking Christmas card was once published with the title "If Christ Had Not Come."  It was founded upon our Savior's words "If I had not come."  The card represented a pastor's falling into a short sleep in his study on Christmas morning and dreaming of a world into which Jesus had never come.

         In his dream he found himself looking through his home, but there were no little stockings in the chimney corner, no Christmas bells or wreaths of holly, and no Christ to comfort, gladden and save.  He walked out to the street, but there was no church with its spire pointing to Heaven.  He came back and sat down in his library, but every book about the Savior had disappeared.

           The doorbell rang and a messenger asked the preacher to visit his poor, dying mother.  He hastened with the weeping child, and as he reached the home he sat down and said, "I have something here that will comfort you."   He opened his Bible to look for a familiar promise, but it ended with Malachi.  There was no Gospel and no promise of hope and salvation, and he could only bow his head and weep with her in bitter despair.

           Two days later he stood beside her coffin and conducted the funeral service. There was no message of consolation, no hope of heaven. Source Unknown

 

        How easy it is for all of us to forget just how important this event is!  Even for those who don't worship Christ this day would be no different than any others if Christ had not come, for though it is not a spiritual celebration for many it would never have been a day celebrated at all if it hadn't been for Christ's birth!

 

PROP. SENT:     The Bible teaches us that the birth of Christ was God's gift to all, but like all gifts we must receive it in order to enjoy it!

 

I.      WHAT WISE MEN CAN TEACH US!   2:1-8

 

A.   Seekers!   2:1-7

1.  The Magi were men of science, not just mystics ...

a.   They were highly educated.

b.   They were wealthy.

c.   They were highly respected in their Gentile culture.

d.   They were upper class citizens.

e.   They were not particularly prone to faith in Jewish religion being Gentiles.

f.    They were reasonable and rational men like men of science today.

g.   In this sense they were almost the exact opposites of the Shepherds!

(1.  Shepherds were extremely poor.

(2.  Shepherds were a despised class in Jesus day, they were not even allowed to testify in a court of law even if they had been an eyewitness to a crime!

(3.  They were considered lower class.

(4.  They were uneducated as a rule.

(5.  The ones mentioned in Luke tended the sacrificial flocks for the Temple, these flocks were kept between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, they were very tied in to the Jewish religion in this way.

2.  The Magi were studying the heavens, not necessarily looking for God, but God sends them a message they understood in language they spoke!

3.  This really is the essence of God coming as a baby too, language that all humans can understand and relate to!

4.  These men of science realized through their field of study that God was real, how interesting that these men of science did not see a conflict between science and God but rather saw it as complimentary!

a.   To them the very existence of the vast universe spoke about God's creative powers!

b.   God then used their interest and language to reach them.

5.  These men were seekers of the truth and it brought them to God!

a.   Those who seek real truth can still find God!

b.   Only those who begin with "there is no God" can't seem to see Him in anything.

c.   If we keep our eyes open and allow God to speak to us He will usually do so in language we understand, and in the end we will end up at the same place -- the person of Jesus, this is where both Shepherd and Magi ended up!

6.  It is tragic today that the world sees Jesus as being in the way, maybe they should understand that God keeps putting Jesus in front of them for a reason!

 

ILLUS:     Just a few days before Christmas two ladies stood looking into a department store window at a large display of the manger scene with clay figures of the baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the wise men, and the animals.  Disgustedly, one lady said, "Look at that, the church trying to horn in on Christmas!" -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 79.

 

7.  These 3 wise men would do whatever it took to find Christ, perhaps there is something here they could teach us!

a.   How seriously have we sought for Christ?

b.   These wise men put their lives, their occupations, their wealth, everything on hold until they could find the creator of the universe they so often studied!

c.   We could learn from their wisdom in becoming seekers of Christ too!

 

B.   Sincere   2:8

1.  Science and logic only brought them so far however, they ended up in Jerusalem looking for the King of the Jews because logic dictated that a King would live in the Capital city and so would probably be born there as well, but their logic didn't bring them to Christ, only in the general direction of finding him!

2.  Once in Jerusalem it required the Scriptures to get them face to face with Jesus, it was the Word of God that spoke of Jesus' exact location, which was prophesied to be in Bethlehem!

a.   This is still true today, logic and science, real truth, may get us going in the right direction toward God, but it will require a specific revelation to truly find Him!

b.   This is the focus of Scripture, to show us Christ, to introduce us to Him personally, to allow for us to reach Him and touch Him!

3.  They did not quit their search when logic failed them, their desire to find Christ was sincere, and rewarded once they knew the Word of God!

4.  Herod however had a very different desire in finding Christ, not to know truth but to hopefully rid the world of Christ since He was a threat to Herod's selfish lifestyle and power!

a.   This is not much different today with some!

b.   They would rather not find Jesus, He threatens the life they have chosen to live, a life built around selfish living.

5.  Christ came however to do battle against sin, and this was the message these wise men came to understand!

 

ILLUS:     Back during World War II a little boy and his daddy were driving home on Christmas Eve. They drove past rows of houses with Christmas trees and decorations in the windows. In many of the windows the little boy noticed a star. He asked his father, "Daddy, why do some of the people have a star in the window?" His daddy said that the star meant that the family had a son in the war. As they passed the last house, suddenly the little boy caught sight of the evening star in the sky. "Look, Daddy, God must have a son in the war, too! He's got a star in his -window." Indeed, God has a son who went to war, but Jesus came into our world to go to war with sin.  -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 84.

 

6.  These wise men realized that the world needed something greater than just science, more than just logic, more than just religion, more than money, more than education, more than class status, the world needed a savior!

a.   How about you?

b.   Have you been WISE enough to understand this yet?

 

II.    WHAT WORSHIPPERS CAN TEACH US   2:9-12

 

A.   Serious   2:9

1.  The men were not just wise men, they were worshippers on their way to finding Christ!

a.   Their goal was not just the accumulation of more knowledge, but also to find the Savior.

b.   For them their greatest wisdom was not enough, they felt the need to be a worshipper also!

2.  They did not just want to KNOW about Christ, they wanted to MEET Him.

3.  They took seriously the need in their own lives to present themselves to God.

 

ILLUS:     During the Christmas season when our daughter was three years old, the number of presents under the tree slowly increased as the day approached. Caught up in the spirit and excitement of gifts and giving as only three-year-olds can be, one morning she was picking up, examining, shaking, and guessing what was inside of every package. Then, in a burst of inspiration, she picked up a big red bow that had fallen off one present and held it on top of her head. She looked up at me with twinkling eyes and beamed a smile as bright as the Star as she said, "Look at me, Daddy! I'm a present!"  Her words were more true than she realized!  The Lord went so far as to send us God's own Son -- the most remarkable present of all!  --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) pp. 230-231.

 

4.  For these wise men this was a lot more than a holiday trip, it was a holy encounter!

 

B.   Savior!   2:10-12

1.  They were now not just wise men, they had become worshippers!

2.  Before they give Jesus their material gifts, they present themselves in worship!

a.   Though we may give to God from our finest material blessings it will not fulfill us as much as when those gifts are first preceded by worship!

b.   Before any treasures from their pocketbooks are opened the treasure of their heart is opened to Christ, they bow and worship Him as the first thing, not the last!  "... they bowed down to worship Him, THEN they opened their treasures..."  2:11

3.  If we get caught up in their 3 gifts and miss how important the moment of worship is we will miss the whole point of their coming!

4.  They were wise to worship, and wise in the meaning of their gifts:

a.   Gold - this was the usual gift given to a King, it showed Christ's Dominion ... over their hearts and over the world!  This also had a practical side to it, for remember that Mary and Joseph were extremely   poor, this provided what they needed to take care of Jesus as He grew and possibly their time in Egypt when they fled for protection, their needs are met in Christ in every way!

b.   Incense - this frankincense was a perfume used in the Temple by the priests to signal the people's worship of God.  It was also used at times to anoint the priests themselves for Holy service.  Christ is our High Priest!

c.   Myrrh - this was used in two ways, to anoint the dead, no doubt here a symbol of Christ's future work for man's sins, and it was also worn by kings on their clothing ... it was a powerful perfume that was strong enough to literally cover up the stench of death! ... an obvious message that Christ could destroy the stench of death!

5.  All these gifts were gifts meant for a King, which of course meant the wise men giving them saw themselves as subjects!

6.  These wise men had come to find a savior in this King, not just to find a curiosity.

a.   Though men of science they are not conflicted about their role as scientists and their role as subjects of God's kingdom!

b.   They returned to their occupations, but not as the same men before their encounter with Christ, how about you?

7.  It would be so easy to get caught up in the celebration of Christ's birth that you actually miss the Christ child!

 

ILLUS:     The story is told of a christening that was to be held many years ago by a very wealthy European family.  Many guests were invited to the home for the occasion and came in the very latest fashionable garb.  Their wraps and coats were carried to a bedroom and laid upon the beds.  After the usual lot of conversation and commotion, they were ready for the christening ceremony and someone asked, "Where is the baby?"  The nurse was sent upstairs to look and returned in alarmed distress.  The baby was nowhere to be found!  After several minutes search someone remembered that the child had last been seen lying on one of the beds, and after a frantic search the little child was found smothered under the wraps of the guests.  The chief reason why they had come had been forgotten, neglected, and destroyed! This Christmas many will forget, neglect and even destroy the Christ child!  He is smothered by the tinsel, wrapping paper, ribbon, and make-believe that surround the festive occasion reminding us of the words of Luke, "There was no room for them in the inn."  Let's not crowd Christ out of Christmas.    C. E. Smith, San Jose Mercury News  -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 85.

 

8.  Wise men and wise women still come to Christ today, how wise are you?

 

CONCLUSION:   Those who came to Christ were not just the poor and uneducated, religious folks like the shepherds, they were also the wealthy learned professionals like the magi.  The truth of the matter is that wise men still seek to find Christ!  Have you come to Christ yet?  It is the wisest choice you will ever make!