SA1803 – We have come to worship Him
Reading: Matthew 2: 1 - 12
This story of the ‘wise men’ is always read at Christmas but seldom preached upon. However it is in the Bible to teach us certain things, not just because it is a good story. I want to look at verse 2 of the reading which says: "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."
1.0 The wise men
The original Greek word used is magoi (magoi), from which comes our word magician, now used in a entertainment sense, but not so in the original. Originally it meant philosophers, priests, or astronomers. They lived chiefly in Persia (now Iran) and Arabia. They were the learned men of the Eastern nations. devoted to astronomy, to religion, and to medicine. They were held in high esteem by the Persian court and were used as counsellors and statesmen. In the book of Daniel, he was made a magoi because he was able to interpret the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar. The magoi were highly respected and looked up to by other people. When these wise men arrived at Jerusalem, led by the star supplied by God, they asked a very significant question which I believe is relevant to us today.
2.0 Why did they come now?
At the time of the birth of Jesus there was an expectation that some remarkable personage was about to appear in Judea. The Jews were anxiously looking for the coming of the Messiah. They took the prophesy of weeks written in Daniel 9: 25-27 and reckoned that the period was approaching when the Messiah would appear. They expected the Messiah would be a temporal prince, and they were expecting that he would deliver them from Roman bondage. Many Jews at that time lived in Egypt, in Rome, in Greece and many, also, had gone to Eastern countries, and in every place they carried their sacred writings, and they too had an expectation that some remarkable person was about to appear.
Suetonius, a Roman historian, speaking of this expectation says: "An ancient and settled persuasion prevailed throughout the East that the Fates had decreed some one to come from Judea who should attain a universal empire." Tacitus, another Roman historian, says: "Many were persuaded that it was contained in the ancient books of their priests, that at that very time someone should come from Judea and possess the dominion." Josephus also, and Philo, two Jewish historians, make mention of the same expectation so the fact that such a person was expected is clearly attested. At the time this expectation was rife these wise men came to do him homage, and inquired anxiously where he was born?
3.0 Where is He who has been born?
The question the wise men asked starts with the words ‘Where is He who has been born?’ Jesus was already born and they knew that. They accepted that the star signified that He was alive. This question is one that we need to ask today.
For you and me, ‘Where is Jesus who has been born?’ For most people in the world Jesus is either a man who lived long ago and is dead and buried or He is a myth. It is true that He was born, and that He died many years ago but for those that acknowledge Him as their Saviour and Lord He is both alive today and is with them always. As it says in Romans 4: 25 about Jesus our Lord: Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. We are Christians because Jesus was born in Bethlehem, crucified in Jerusalem and risen in glory in Heaven. This is the One whom the wise men came to worship.
4.0 King of the Jews
Like all the others who looked for the coming of the Messiah they thought Jesus was coming to be king of the Jews, a temporal king coming to claim an earthly kingdom. They looked at a scripture in Micah 5: 2 - "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." The theologians ignored the last part of this verse because they could not understand it. How could someone come whose goings forth are from old, from everlasting. After all, only God was eternal and thus from everlasting and it surely could not mean that God was coming to earth to rule!
So they took this prophecy which clearly speaks of someone eternal and made it into a prophecy meaning someone temporal. People often take bits of the Bible to make what they want to believe a fact, but that never makes it true. Only the whole Bible together reveals the true God and this wonderful verse shows us that God is coming down as a man to rule His people Israel. Yet again they could not imagine that this heavenly ruler might just have a heavenly Israel and perhaps He was not coming to rescue the earthly Israel from the Romans but a heavenly Israel from their sins.
5.0 For we have seen His star in the East
It is not a sensible thing to do to try and speculate what this star was that the wise men had seen and followed. It was not a constellation or a star as we know them and neither was it one of the well known planets, comets or meteors. We know this because it came from east to west, stopped at Jerusalem and then it turned south and finally stopped over the very place where Jesus was. No known, or unknown for that matter, heavenly body can move in such a way so we must conclude that this star was provided by God for this one special purpose, to guide these men to Jesus. It led them to Jesus for the express purpose that they might worship Him.
In such a way I pray that we have been led here today for the express purpose that we may worship Him. There is not a star in the East leading people today but there is a Saviour willing to lead all to Himself. Jesus said in John 3: 14-15 - “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Jesus is the star today that will draw people to Himself but He must be lifted up by us in our lives. Our words, our behaviour and our manner must show people Jesus and not ourselves and then the star of Jesus will shine brightly in our firmament.
When it says they saw his star in the east it does not mean that they had seen the star to the east of themselves, but that, when they were in the East, they had seen this star. As this star was in the direction of Jerusalem it must have been west of them. It might be translated, "We, being in the East, have seen his star."
6.0 and have come….
The wise men saw the star and did something about it. I do not suppose for one moment that all the people who saw this remarkable star left off what they were doing and immediately prepared for a long journey. I am sure that some felt they could not leave their homes or their businesses or their wives and families and follow some mysterious star for who knew how long! I think that the ones who came to Bethlehem were just a small number of those who saw the star when it first appeared.
It was the same when Jesus grew up and began His ministry. Of the thousands who came and saw him, heard Him, were healed by Him and were fed by Him only a few followed Him and on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 there were only 120 there even though he had appeared to over 500 hundred after His resurrection. Of the thousands who heard Him, and the hundreds who saw him after the resurrection, only a fraction came and followed Him.
It is the same today. Millions have heard of Jesus but it is not enough to hear about Jesus or even to hear Him talking to you. It is essential that you come to Him and follow Him. Jesus is not only our Saviour but also our leader and He is our leader on a journey not a sit-in.
7.0 to worship Him
The wise men came to honour him as a prince or a king but not as God. The original word translated ‘worship’ implies no more than this. It means to prostrate oneself before another; to fall down and pay homage to another. We are here today but how have you come to worship Him? Is Jesus just a historical figure, is He a remarkable prophet or is He the king of your life? You may have accepted Him as your saviour but are you following Him as your leader and guide? The wise men made a long journey to worship Him but He calls you and me to follow Him on a lifetime’s journey to worship Him. You can only worship Jesus by following Him never by sitting and doing nothing.
Have you seen His star and come to worship Him today? If so you will hear Him say those words from Matthew 4: 19 - "Follow Me , and I will make you fishers of men." You cannot fish by doing nothing but if you dare to let Him lead you will find a life of such riches and such joy that all other lives will fade away.