Are You That Witness Series –
Intro: Over the years Karol and I have had are challenges with direction and reading maps when we go on a trip. Our first GPS was given to us as a gift from this church; mainly they feared that Karol and I would avoid a possible future argument when we travel. It is truly amazing the technology we have at our figure tips. The Wise men used a GPS long before modern technology did! God used a star to figure into the events surrounding the birth of His Son. This is one of many instances in the Bible where God demonstrated His sovereignty by doing something that went beyond the boundaries of our human understanding. By providing a fabulous GPS system from outer space, God enhanced the wise men’s determination to find the baby Jesus and worship Him. God continues to use fabulous systems to find people who will worship Him. As God used John the Baptist to be a witness for Christ, He expects the Church to continue to be that witness of the return of Christ, and He will not be in a manger or hanging on a tree.
The Wisemen saw the light and followed that light until Christ was revealed to them and then they gave their gifts. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:16-17
Text: Matthew 2:1-12 (NKJV)
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him." 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 So they said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: 6 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.' " 7 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also." 9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.”
Application - There are still Wisemen following Christ today, are you one of them?
Three men are revealed in this Narrative. We are all one of them!
1. The Not so Wiseman: (Herod)
The Herod here is Herod the Great, who ruled as king from 37 to 4 BC. He was an Edomite, not a Jew and he hoped to have favor from the Jews by marrying one. He was a figure of heroic proportions, whose rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple represented a major feat of ancient architecture, but whose rule was authoritarian, ruthless, and cruel. Even to the extent of slaughtering his own wife and children. He wasn’t a nice man! A jealous man to say the least, and the possibility of someone else coming into his realm proclaiming Kingship would be dealt harshly with. “Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.” Matthew 2:16
This not so Wiseman (Herod) showed a negative light on this Christ Kingship. The hatred was written all over the pages. Herod’s devious scheme to discover and destroy this unknown baby shows his fear that the magi’s declaration about the Child could be correct, and gives unintended testimony to Jesus’ true royalty. Herod knew that he was a dictator to be reckoned with. But this Jewish King was a threat. He feared and hated even the suggestion of a rival claimant. But even the hatred of the false king gave indirect testimony to the identity of the true King.
In Christ time Herod was a worldly King who would not allow any other person take his place as King or have that kind of authority. For many of us in this world today, we still have our own Herod, a Herod in another form, someone or thing that has authority over us, something that does not want to see us live in Christ.
2. The God/Man: (Jesus)
"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting." Micah 5:2
The central figure here is Christ Himself. One of the greatest promises ever made to the human race is given in the prophecy from Micah 5:2. It is the birth of the Messiah, the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. A Savior was coming and would be born in the city of Bethlehem. Israel could have no greater hope than this: the hope of the promised Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Bethlehem or the area surrounding it was sometimes referred to as Ephrathah and Ephrath. It was a small, insignificant town about five miles from Jerusalem. Imagine such a Mighty King, the Savior of the world, coming from such a small and lowly town! Why would the Lord choose Bethlehem for the birth of His beloved Son when He could have chosen any city, any palace, in all the world? These verses declare that the Lord uses the weak and lowly things of this world to confound the wise and strong. And in His mercy, the Lord graciously redeems and lifts up the lowly, despised things of this world to bring honor to His Name. No one can boast; for it is God who makes the weak strong and the small great. It is God who can make something out of nothing!
The choice of Bethlehem for the birth of the Savior also teaches us an essential lesson about the character and purpose of God. Christ came as a humble servant. He was born into an oppressed, impoverished nation and into a small, insignificant town within that nation. In addition, He was not born into a rich or powerful family but into a working-class family. God Himself—in the form of the Man Jesus Christ—entered the world He created. He did not come clothed as a mighty warrior or king to conquer but came clothed in humility to serve. This is an astonishing fact, and an honest and thinking person will recognize it as such. God, in Christ, came to serve. Think of Christ’s humility in condescending to become a man. Think of the humility He displayed in His character and behavior among the people. Listen to what Scripture says about the humility of Christ. Micah predicted not just where Christ would be born but also the great purpose for which He would be sent into the world. God would send Christ to live among people for the great cause of God Himself “unto me”. That is, Christ would be sent for the glory and praise of God and to do God’s will. He would rule God’s people and deliver them from all enemies.
The prophecy of Christ’s birth and coming rule was meant to encourage and give hope to the people of Israel. The people desperately needed hope because their time of judgment was drawing near. However, the people did not fully understand the great promise given them. They failed to grasp the importance of this great hope, to take it to heart and to change their rebellious ways. Instead, they continued in their sin and rebellion. Tragically, Micah’s prophecy—the great promise of the coming Messiah—had fallen on deaf ears.
We must be careful to heed the message of God’s coming judgment. And we must grab hold of the great hope the Lord has given us, the hope of the promised Messiah. God has given the world a Savior; He has provided for us a Redeemer. Our Savior and Redeemer is none other than God’s own beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Micah tried to warn the people, but they refused to listen. Still, every believer today has the responsibility to tell the story and to warn all who are lost in a cesspool of sin: judgment is coming. However, there is still time to repent and to turn to the Savior. But it will soon be too late. Christ is coming back to earth and no one knows the day or the hour of His return. “Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6
3. The Wiseman: (Wisemen) "I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel, And batter the brow of Moab, And destroy all the sons of tumult.” Numbers 24:17
Look at the character of the wise men. They were great men. But their greatness is magnified by the greatness of their faith and their moral courage. Faith is, after all, a kind of heaven-born insight. These men saw the star. There were thousands about them who looked upon the same star, and saw no meaning in it. It led them through the long desert to kneel before the Satisfier of their hopes. So it is with Christ's children in this world. They see by an insight of faith what other men do not see. There is a light that others do not see, there is a hand that others cannot perceive, and there is a voice that others cannot hear, that calls them to go forward.
The success of the wise men in their search for the Saviour should teach us that they who are really anxious to find Him will never miss Him for lack of proper guidance. The example of the wise men should make us ashamed of allowing difficulties, or even dangers, to hinder us in our search for the Saviour. God graciously adapts His guidance to the necessities of His creatures. The technology of the GPS system has always been. God’s plan of salvation still requires Wisemen who will witness for Christ! Just look for the star! We have seen the star the glorious star of the Epiphany. So have we like the Wisemen come to the Saviour to worship Him?
"Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him." Matthew 2:2 "Where is He?" The answer came at Epiphany. Among the wild Bethlehem hills was born One who was a light to lighten the Gentiles, who was come to give the knowledge of salvation to His people, to set the captive free, to make the poor, crushed slave a man indeed, to wipe away the tears of the sorrowful, to heal the sick, and to raise from the dead those who lay in trespasses and sins. Surely this is what the Epiphany teaches us, that the true life of every one of us is revealed in the life of Jesus Christ; that to be humble, to be gentle, to be obedient, to go about doing good, and to perform God's will in our daily work, is to be like Him whom the wise men worshipped long ages ago in Bethlehem. "Where is He?" Not only in heaven, pleading, as our great High Priest, the unfailing merits of His sacrifice, but here on earth, with His faithful Church.
Whatever more there may be, and there is much more in the visit of the wise men to the manger-cradle at Bethlehem, there is at least the lesson of consecration. These wise men prostrated themselves before this little Child. They did not keep their wisdom to themselves. They had no greater joy than in emptying themselves of their treasures, and bestowing them in humblest adoration upon Him. To every man there comes the old choice to be wise or not to be.
Are we like the wise men, in that, when children, we too have a sort of star in the East to guide us towards the cradle of our Lord? We are carried to church, we are taught to pray, we learn more or less of Scripture words and histories; God gives us notice, in various ways, of that wonderful Child who was born at Bethlehem to be King of the Jews. Now these notices and feelings, if they are indeed sent by the Most High, will guide us, more or less directly, to Jerusalem, that is, to the Holy Church of God, the city set on a hill that cannot be hid. Is that GPS working for you? Have you seen the star? Are you truly worshipping????
The Not so Wiseman is the Lost Man, the Wiseman is the saved man and the God/Man is Jesus Christ. JOHN 3:16-17 ‘ARE YOU THAT WITNESS?”
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Tags: "book of matthew" "are you that witness series"
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