Big Idea: Jesus is the one born King of the Jews, worship him.
May 6. Got that date circled on your calendar? KC3, King Charles III Coronation. Variety of responses.
How are you responding to the king?
While this passage has inspired much talk of kings; We Three Kings, or a showdown between two kings.
Matthew’s point is that there is only one true King. And there is only one wise response to him.
How are you responding to the king?
God is moving heaven and earth so that people might meet his Son, and worship him. Read v1-2
1 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 saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
v1 We read … After Jesus was born … Matthew arrives a little late for the Christmas celebrations. Our traditional Nativity scene compresses the events.
We learn here that not only was Jesus born in the line of David but he was also born in the town of David. And he was born in the time when Judea was under the rule of Herod the king.
Here is a little time stamp that reminds us that Jesus was an actual historical person – truly divine but fully human with a birth date (probably not Dec 25) and a birthplace. You can go and visit it today – someone has built an ugly church building over it, but it’s earthbound and historical.
Matthew may be late for Christmas but he brings the Magi, an unnumbered group of Gentile wise men on a quest, and some gifts (later).
Both our Christmas traditions and Christmas theology would be poorer without them.
In v2 they arrive in Jerusalem and ask … Where is the one born King of the Jews We saw his star We have come to worship him. The Psalmist sings that (Ps 19) the heavens declare the glory of God … And it seems that the heavens also declared, through a star, the arrival of his glorious King (v2b)
They have followed the star and even though they are Gentiles they have come to worship him (v2).
The title “King of the Jews” God’s forever king who will rule his kingdom which will bring blessing to all nations/Gentiles.
Going to all nations as part of our commission is not a polite suggestion but core to the mission and plan of God.
We have come to worship him. Only God is to be worshipped – very clear about that. Jesus the one born king of the Jews is God.
Again, truly divine (worship) and fully human (born place and time).
I don’t know how the Magi knew about the birth of the one born King of the Jews by looking at a star.
But what is clear is that God is moving heaven and earth so that his son is worshipped.
Jo and I had the great privilege to get to know a Persian lady with a very special story. She grew up in Iran. But when that country came under strict Islamic rule her father although Muslim came under suspicion so eventually they had to escape from the country. During this time our friend had a dream where Jesus called her to follow him. It took years and lots of travel and searching until one day she walked into St Andrews cathedral in the middle of Sydney CBD and heard Philip Jenson preaching from the Bible. Instantly she knew that this was the voice of Jesus and through the faithful preaching in that church, she was saved, she is a worshipper of Jesus.
While there are numerous theories about how these wise men knew to follow the star and worship Jesus we need to remember no matter the prompting God’s intent is that you would worship Jesus.
Maybe MPC’s mission statement needs updating to “Growing worshippers of Jesus.”
You need to be a worshipper. What we see here is that Jesus IS your King.
KC3 is king over Australia. Many different responses to that, but for the time being it does not change the fact. Jesus is your King. How are you responding?
Recognise and submit to his rule and worship him.
Do you need to repent, turn around, stop ignoring or resisting his rule and come to him in humility and repentance as your king?
As the account continues we learn what it means to worship the Lord Jesus.
Matthew tells us what happens in Jerusalem when it’s citizens learn of the birth of the King.
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him;
Herod is disturbed or troubled by the news that there is one born king of the Jews. Herod was not a Jew nor a king by birth. He was appointed by the Roman senate. History tells us that Herod was mega-paranoid about his position. It was around this time that he had his favourite wife and their two eldest sons put to death because he thought they were whispering behind his back.
One historian said when Herod shivers Jerusalem trembles.
Things are astir in Jerusalem. Herod calls some other wise men.
and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'”
Chief priests and scribes. Men who spent their days in the Scriptures, seeking to know more and learning more.
And they are impressive. Where is the Messiah to be born? Buzzer – BETHLEHEM!
And they can quote their source Micah 5:2. They can quote the verses, the words God spoke to his people hundreds of years before.
In that time and place if anyone was thought to be close to God it was them.
But despite their great insight and ability to answer all the questions at Growth Group; they are indifferent.
Why weren’t they the first out the door? The long-awaited promised Messiah, 8 km away. But neither the revelation nor the call to Bethlehem moves them.
They suffer from indifference.
Information, not transformation – I know I say that a lot but it’s a life-threatening condition.
Skin check, dental appointment, cholesterol measured. Useless to know the info but do nothing.
We don’t need smarter sinners. We need people who live lives being transformed by the good news of Jesus not living with indifference.
It might be that you …
All good things but ask yourself… Are you being moved? Do you see transformation in your life?
Recently I found myself praying fervently and frequently for the sale of our Ballina house. God invited me to pray for such things. But I was embarrassed to realise that it was this issue most on my heart. Why don’t I pray so fervently and frequently for growth in godliness? Embarrassing to admit, but so thankful for the prompting from God.
On my good days I notice transformation happening not in my confidence that I have it all together. Rather … In the nature and content of my prayers particularly my adoration of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness and my searching repentance. It is a work of God, not me. In my willingness to apologise sooner With my increased sensitivity to sin and self-centredness in my life and thinking. In my deepening realisation of my desperate need for Jesus’ saving sacrifice to be applied to my life and for the work of the Holy Spirit to produce his fruit.
These may sound very depressing and lacking in vibrancy. But many of you will know that they are not disheartening when they move you toward Jesus. To understand what it means that, not only is He the King but a shepherd King who pastors his people.
But you won’t know that comfort if you remain indifferent.
The other response to be on guard for is resistance.
7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.”
I get the shivers when I think about Herod taking the Magi aside for a secret chat.
He is saying the right words but you just know his heart is not in it. Next week we’ll see that bear out in his actions. But you can sense the resistance even here.
We are to expect hostility from the world. But not in here.
Here is one who is identifying with God’s people and using words like worship. But in his heart, his is hostile to the rule of Jesus. Not willing to step off his throne for the one true king.
Hamish + you
And what I want you to see and to feel in this passage is that both the religious leaders and the king express allegiance with their words but their actions and their hearts reveal the truth.
To notice these things in your life and attitudes is like a big red warning sign – WRONG WAY. GO BACK. There was one of those signs near the exit to our estate in Ballina. Cait often commented that it wasn’t polite. No, but it saves the lives of those who obey.
It is only by worshipping Jesus that we will overcome these ailments of the soul.
In the last few verses, we read how wise people respond to Jesus in worship.
9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
Jesus could have been anywhere between 6 months to two years old.
He has not started his earthly ministry, there have been no miraculous signs or authoritative teaching. But they fall before him in worship.
They worship Jesus not for what he does but for who he is, God’s Son. And they lavish on him costly gifts fit for a king.
There is a lot going on here. But at the very centre notice that the arrival of Jesus changes the face of the worship of God.
Gentiles approaching and without making the ritual or sin offerings required by the law.
Matthew is signalling that Jesus now provides clear access for all people to God.
He is foreshadowing the cross, where that life-giving, forgiveness-winning once and for-all sacrifice was made by the King of the Jews (27:37).
It’s like a billboard advertising your holiday destination. You don’t stop there and unpack. But it tells you that you are on the right road.
Fast Forward: What will it look like for you to worship?
Corporately Acts 2:42 gathering, teaching, fellowship, breaking bread and praying.
Eph 4 being trained by leaders to serve.
Singing together is an aspect of worship that appears in the OT and NT. (Part of not total)
Rev 5:11-14 a vision of future glory. Multitudes together praising God and the Lamb. Personally. Rom 12:1-2 honouring God in the way we live. Not conforming to our world but being transformed by the gospel and offering our lives in his service.
Col 3:17 in everything you do, do in the name of the Lord Jesus, to his glory and with thanksgiving to God.
How do we cultivate those attitudes in our lives? CLPTA Confession. Lament. Praise. Thanksgiving. Adoration. CLPTA
Confession. Examining our lives and thoughts and words in light of Scripture we reflect on our sinfulness and that we stand in need of God’s grace and the forgiveness that comes only through Jesus.
Lament. The world we experience is not as the world should be. Lament is a groaning and a prayer for God to make all things new. Your Kingdom come. We are longing for home.
Praise. A response to God’s character and saving actions. An expression of a lifted burden. A loud exhaling of breath.
Thanksgiving. Deepening gratitude for what God has done. Explore his boundless, steadfast love for us in Christ and faithfulness to his promises.
Adoration. Contemplating with the goal of delighting in God for who he is.
Recent tweaks to our church service have been made to increase these aspects of worship. It would be good for you to be here on time – every bit is on purpose with a purpose.
As you exercise such spiritual muscles, personally or in group training at church it will overflow into a life of robust worship.
A lifetime ago a friend of mine had his young son down the front of the church listening to a kid’s talk. At one point the presenter said, “Jesus is the King.” At which point my friend’s son took hold of his face and in a startled cry yelled, “Dad! I thought Elvis was the king!”
While there is confusion about kingship in our world there ought to be no confusion in here (church building) or here (the heart).
Jesus is the King, ruler over everything Jesus is the one, promised one the Son of God Jesus is the Lord, he’s the one you can’t ignore Jesus, Jesus, he is the King He is the King.
God has moved heaven and earth so that he would be worshipped.