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Sunday, December 22, 2019

posted Dec 23, 2019, 9:08 AM by Site Administrator





Matthew 2:1-12

Key Verse: 2:2


...and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?  We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”

First, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” (1-2). Look at verse 1. “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem....” Magi, traditionally called “Wise Men, supposedly lived in ancient Persia or Babylon.The Greek historian, Herodotus, in the fifth century B.C., identified the Magi as a caste of Medes who had a priestly function in the Persian Empire. They were great intellectuals, occupying high government positionsIn the ancient times, Astrology was one of very popular subjects among the intellectuals. The Magi say in verse 2, “We saw his star in the east....” They saw “his star.” As they were studying stars at night, they found one exceptionally bright star. It was an extraordinary star which captured their eyes. They were convinced that it was “his star,” which symbolized the King of the Jews – the Promised Messiah. Modern day, peopleboth believers and unbelievers, have heard about Jesus’ second coming; in the same way, in those days people heard and knew about the Messiah’s first coming. 


When the Magi found the star of the King of the Jews, they were excited - a new discovery is always a big thing for the scientists. But they were not just content with finding that the prophecy of the king of the Jews was fulfilled. Instead, they wanted to see him face to face, touch his tiny foot, and worship Him. So, what did they do? They cancelled all their schedules - government affairs, family gatherings, trip plans and all other business schedules; they asked for a long vacation and started their journey. Their investment was really great - time, money, their efforts. They came from a faraway country in the east, following the two great rivers – the Tigris and the Euphrates, tracing the area known as “the fertile Crescent” from one end in the Persian Gulf area to the other end in Judea, about 1,200 miles one way. By airplane today, it may take about a few hours, but in those days, it must have taken about one month or two months one way through the wilderness. It was not an easy journey. They had to overcome the terrible weather in the Middle East; probably, they climbed up and down the mountains, crossed the rivers, and the deserts. They really valued seeing the new born Messiah so highly. 


The Magi followed the star; so during day time, they rested, and when evening came, and the star appeared, they set off, and continued the journey. In the eyes of people, they looked strange; their lifestyle was different. They were holy pilgrims. Their struggle showed that to them, seeing the Messiah was really important, and they sought him wholeheartedly. Their example convicts us of how much we seek Jesus. Jesus is no longer that tiny speechless baby, but our God; we can have real fellowship with him, talking to him and hearing from him; Jesus wants us to come to him and have eating fellowship with him. Christmas is the time when we renew our love for him; maybe, Christmas is the beginning of our real pursuit of Jesus Christ our Lord.  


Then, finally, despite intractable difficulties and harrowing hardships, spending much money and sacrificing their lifetime-careers, they came to Jerusalem. They shouted, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” 


Here, they described the baby Jesus as “the king of the Jews.” This is Jesus’ official title. He was proclaimed as the king of the Jews at his birth by these Magi, and he was also proclaimed as the king of the Jews at his death on the cross. He was born as our King, and died as our King. This is really shocking. He is king, and we are his subjects! We live in democratic society; so we are not familiar with a monarchy system, even the terms such as king and kingdom sound a little old dated. But the Bible shows that we are in the monarchy system, and Jesus is our King and we are his people. It means that we have to see everything from a totally different view - as we believe in Jesus Christ, we are in a totally different paradigm. Toward the President of the USA, we just shake hands with him, and if we don’t like his political view, we protest and even threaten him, saying that we will not vote for him any longer. But not so with the king! Once a king is king always, and especially for Jesus, because he is eternal king. We must show him absolute loyalty, because he is our king. When he asks us to do something, we must do it whether we like it or not; if he asks us to go to a certain place, we must go there, even if that place is very dangerous, or even if we have to sacrifice a lot. Actually, Jesus expects such undying loyalty from us, saying, “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer...Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev 2:10) Many peoples’ mistake is that they forget about their new status as citizens of Jesus’ kingdom; they approach the Bible with their old way of thinking, democratic view - they cut off any part they don’t understand, keeping such liberal attitude toward God. I know you are good citizens of this country – you pay taxes, you protect America, and you are very concerned about keeping the speed limits and stop signs. But let me ask you a question: Are you good citizens of Jesus’ kingdom? Let’s remember that as we believed in Jesus, paradigm has changed; we are in a monarch system. Let’s be loyal to Jesus to the end.


What kind of king is the king of the Jews? In 1Samuel, when the Israel people asked God to assign a king over them, they talked about what kind of king they wanted - a king to lead them and to go out before them and fight their battles. The king they wanted to have was very idealistic. If any king is like the king they wanted - going out before his people and fighting their battles, then, all his people would be really happy and blessed. But sadly, there is no king like that; all kings are selfish, self-indulgent and cruel. Instead of going out before their people, they stand behind them and push them to go out ahead of them and fight their battles; at the expense of their people, these kings enjoy luxury and prosperity; under the rule of these selfish kings, people suffer a lot. But God granted their wish and established David as an ideal king. David ruled his people as their shepherd, being concerned about their well-being; most of all, he was a righteous king who loved God and was willing to do anything for God’s purpose. He ruled his people with justice and righteousness; as a result, under his rule, his people enjoyed peace and rest; no one was left out. Even though he was not the perfect king, he showed a hint of what the perfect king would be like. Then, God promised that in the line of David, He would establish a king who would reign over his people for ever and ever - God promised that He would establish an eternal kingdom through him. This promised king in the line of David was the king of the Jews whom people really wanted to have, the king who would go out before them and fight their battles, who would do everything for their well being


Jesus was born as the king of the Jews and lived as the king of the Jews and died as the kingdom of the Jews. While his people were still weak and powerless due to their sins, he alone, without asking his people to do anything, fought their battles against sin, by taking up his cross, filling his body with sufferings, pains and sorrows, and eventually laid his life for them on the cross so that they would be forgiven of their sins, and set free from the bondage of sin and death. He fought their battles and brought victory to them so that they would enjoy the benefits of his fights and sacrifice. He is the king of the Jews, the ideal king we humans have been waiting for. This is your King, Jesus. We can really brag about him – we can brag about how great our king is. 


Now, you don’t want to reject his kingship upon your life any more, do you? If anyone rejects even this kind of perfect king, ideal king, then, it is obvious that that person is fundamentally rebellious, rejecting any authority over him or her - such a person has no place in the kingdom of God. Again, Jesus official title, even from his birth, is the king of the Jews. Believing in him, or accepting Him literally means to acknowledge his kingship over us, willing to abide by his laws and regulations, willing to live according to his commands. Jesus is the king of the Jews. Now today, do youaccept him as your king? Dont you now want to really live as his loyal people? Christmas is the day we celebrate the birth of our king. 


Second, “Herod was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him” (3-8). These Magi, Gentile worshipers of God brought to the Jews, God’s chosen people, the good news of the birth of the king of the Jews. What great news it was! At this, the people of Jerusalem should have rejoiced, singing and dancing. Yet, how did they respond? Look at verse 3. Let’s read this verse together:


When king Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.


What?!!! They were disturbed at the news of the Messiah’s coming! They were the ones who believed in the Bible; they had worship service every week! They had great pride as God’s chosen people that they would rather choose to die than denying God. It seemed that they had been waiting for the Messiah! But when he came, and when they heard about his birth, they were all disturbed! The word, “disturbed” suggests that, at the news of his birth, they were puzzled and said to each other, “Oh, no!” “What shall I do?” Why were they disturbed at this good news? They were disturbed because they knew how they had lived their life – not in a manner worthy of his coming; no one knew how they lived, but they themselves knew; no one condemned them, but they themselves knew that they were not qualified to meet their King, because the very life they had lived thus far testified against them. At his coming, all their Bible knowledge, or their faithful religious activities did not give them any confidence. What really mattered was whether they had lived their life in a manner worthy of his coming or not.   


There are so many people who go to church every Sunday and talk about Jesus’ second coming. But when Jesus comes again, many people will show the same response - they will be disturbed. Those who have lived their life in a manner worthy of his coming will rejoice greatly; they will rise and welcome him, singing and dancing - just like the first and second servants in the parable of the mina. But those who have not lived their life in a manner worthy of his coming will be scared and disturbed just like these people in Jerusalem. About how we must prepare ourselves for his second coming, Jesus gives us a clear instruction, saying, Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luk 21:36) We are waiting for Jesus’ second coming; we know that, once he comes, we will live in his kingdom forever - this is the very hope all Christians have and wait for. Then, in view of this hope, we must really think about how we live our life - we must live our life as Christians in a manner worthy of his second coming, living a holy life, doing what God wants us to do, instead of doing whatever we feel like doing. Then, we will not be disturbed when the signs of his second coming appear; even if the World War III occurs, we will not be shaken at all. The apostle Peter writes: “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” (2 Pet 3:13-14) Jesus says in Luke 21:34, “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.” 


What was the religious leaders’ response? Herod summoned all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law to ask them where the Christ was to be born (4). They answered right at the spot, saying, “In Bethlehem in Judea, for this is what the prophet has written: “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 for my people Israel.” Their quotation was from Micah 5:2. Their Bible knowledge was really great. Even without looking at the Scriptures, they recited this prophecy in one breath. They memorized the Bible very well, and understood what the Bible was talking about. Now they heard that the Messiah was born in Bethlehem, five miles south to Jerusalem. What great news it was! So, did they say to Herod, “Please, excuse us,” and run to Bethlehem to see the Messiah? No! After this, they went home, took a hot shower, and slept very well, as if nothing unusual had happened. Despite their great Bible knowledge and their religious positions, they had no interest in the Messiah coming; they had no concern about the fulfillment of God’s prophecy; maybe, they were just interested in the benefits of being religious such as occupying high positions, receiving honor and respect; but they were not interested in things of God.

King Herod’s response was even worse. When Herod heard about the birth of Jesus, he was disturbed (3). He felt that his kingship was threatened. Immediately he decided to kill the baby Jesus, assuming that the baby Jesus was a threat to his throne. Later, when Herod learned that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he became furious. He gave orders to kill all the baby boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old or under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi (16). In this way, when Herod tried to save his life, his throne, he became an enemy of God. When people love anything in the world, there is no love of God in their hearts; often, they become enemies of God.


Third, “They were overjoyed” (9-12). The Magi’s long pilgrimage finally ended when the star stopped over the place where the child was (9). Verse 10 says, “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.” The word, “overjoyed” means “extremely joyful” or “full of joy.” You know usually, aged people do not express their joy that well, but just some laughter like Santa Clause, “HoHoHo. Merry Christmas! Hohoho...” But think about these Magi, old kingly people in kingly costumes being overjoyed, being extremely joyful, shouting, “Hurray” and dancing! They look cute. What is the secret of this great delight? The secret was that they had been seeking the king of the Jews with all their hearts and strength, and had finally found him. This is the joy only those who seek Jesus wholeheartedly come to enjoy, when they find him. Many Christians feel bored about their Christian life; simply, they do not have that much joy or happiness or excitement; they just go through the motion. It seems that they have no life. Why? It is because they are not seeking Jesus, their king wholehearted - they have lost the object of their worship; they have lost their true interest in Jesus. In our life of faith, Jesus is everything; because of him, we started this Christian life; because of him, it is maintained, and he is the ultimate goal of our Christian life - He is the Alpha and the Omega of our life of faith. If we lose him, we lose everything. If we find him, we have everything. So, by any means, we must seek him with all our heart so that we can find him; we must secure him at the center of our heart by any means; we must not give our heart to anything else, or anyone else, but Jesus alone. God says, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Who find him? Those who seek him with all their hearts! We can find him this way, and our joy will be complete.


Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year when we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus. But nowadays, people have changed Christmas too commercial, as a result, it is one of the most burdensome time – people suffer from headaches and depression, instead of rejoicing greatly. I pray that, during this Christmas season, instead of headaches, all of you may have great joy like the Magi had! I pray that we may shout for joy and dance like the Magi. What is the secret of having such great joy? Find Jesus by seeking him wholeheartedly, and your joy will be complete. I pray that all of you may say, “That joy is mine.”  Let’s renew our heart’s love for Jesus and seek him wholeheartedly.  


Look at verse 11. Let’s read this verse together: 


On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.


They saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Wow! This is really an amazing scene. At that moment, Mary might wear just peasant’s cloth, not shining at all; for sure, there was no aura around her head. Then, what about the baby? He was just an infant new born baby, so weak and fragile. But these aged priestly people, kingly people recognized him as the King of the Jews, the Savior of the world. Even though the baby did not perform any miracles yet, they recognized him as their King, as their God and as their Savior; even though the baby did not speak a word yet, let alone delivering a powerful and heart-moving message, they recognized him as their God, bowed down and worshiped him. They were really humble people who could accept the new born baby as their King.


Then they presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. The visit of the Magi is recorded only in Matthew’s Gospel. Matthew, the former tax collector, who pursued money, who only knew how to get, must have been greatly moved by the story of the Magi. The Magi knew how to give their most precious gifts to the most precious One. There are so many people who are wandering aimlessly with what they have – their time, their future, their money, and their talent. But these Magi did not wander. They sought God diligently with all their hearts and with all their strength. Finally, they saw God in the baby Jesus and gave him everything they had. And they were overjoyed. 


Their worship was very plain - they saw the baby, bowed down, worshiped him and presented their gifts to him - so their actual worship time probably took about 5 or 10 minutes. For this, they traveled such a long distance, pouring out their time and money and energy; they sacrificed so much just to see him, bow down to him and worship him. Then, what did the baby Jesus do for them? Nothing! He did not deliver a message to them; he didn’t give them his divine counseling service; he did not perform great miracles for them; instead, he just looked at them; maybe, he smiled at them. This shows that they made such efforts to see him not because they wanted to get something from him, but because who the baby Jesus was - the king of the Jews. They considered seeing him and worshiping him a great privilege that they wanted to secure it by any means, willing to pour out their time and money for it. Simply, the baby Jesus was worthy of all their time, money, and all their sacrifices. They were true worshipers of Jesus Christ. Long time ago, I had one sheep. Once he experienced Jesus’ grace, he was overjoyed. Then, in order to come to worship service every Sunday he spent 2 hours on bus from San Pedro to Long Beach; his struggle was beautiful. He used to be a raver, but to me, he was a cute prince; I loved him. Then, I took him back home after worship service. Today, we worship him, by pouring out our time, money, and talent, because Jesus is worth it.


At this Christmas, let’s check out our hearts and restore our love for Jesus. He did amazing things for each of us; as our King, he went ahead of us, fought our battles, even to the point of laying down his life for us so that we might not die, but live. Moreover, he visited us in our deepest despair, in our deepest sorrows, and rescued us from our sins and gave us this new life. Indeed, he is our King, and we are his people. So, it is really right for us to worship Him. It is really right for us to seek him with all our heart and strength - that’s how we can really worship him. There is a song, saying, “울며 일하라 들에서나의 어린양 먹이라. “Weep and work in the field; take care of my sheep, feeding them.” How come you weep, while you work? Because there are a lot of difficulties and pains in feeding Jesus’ sheep. Yet, you still feed Jesus’ sheep weeping. Why? Because you love Jesus. That’s how you really seek Him. There is also a song, “예수님이 좋은걸 어떡합니까예수님이 좋은걸 어떡합니까? “I like Jesus very much, what else can I do? I like Jesus very much, what else can I do?” When I came to America as a missionary in 1993, missionary John Kwon picked me up at LAX and said to me, “For the past 10 years, I have served God, forgetting the world.” That expression, “Forgetting the world,” touched my heart deeply. I could understand what kind of life he had lived and how he had served Jesus. We gave up our dreams in the world; we left our comfortable life. And now we are struggling to feed his sheep, even weeping. Why? All because of Jesus - he is the cause of our changed life, and he is the purpose of our life; he is the goal of all our struggles. He is everything to us. So, it is really reasonable for us to celebrate his birth into the world. Merry Christmas!


At this Christmas, let’s remember our King Jesus - what great things He has done for us. At this Christmas, let’s make our heart’s decision that we will be modern day Magi, seeking Jesus with all our heart and strength. The great joy of finding Him belongs to those who earnestly seek him. Then, we can really sing the song, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”


One Word:We Have Come To Worship The New Born King Jesus