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Sunday, December 24, 2017

posted Dec 24, 2017, 7:35 PM by Site Administrator





Matthew 2:1-12

Key Verse: 2:2


Merry Christmas! I thank God for blessing us to worship him today. I also thank God for allowing me to be a Christmas messenger. But you also can be messengers as well. Look to your neighbor on your right and your left and say, "Jesus came into the world for you!" Now you are all Christmas messengers. Amen. 


...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. They were great intellectuals, occupying high government positionsIn the ancient times, Astrology was one of very popular subjects among the intellectuals. The Magi said 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, people heard and knew about the Messiah’s first coming in those days. 


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 and to worship Him. So, they asked for a long vacation from their boss, set aside all other schedules such as their duties or family gatherings, and started their journey. 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. 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 even changed their sleep schedule. They could not follow the star during the day, because stars appear in the dark; So they slept during the day and walked during the night. People probably thought that they were vampires. Not only that, traveling at night was hard for them. There were no street lights or flashlights. No 7-11 to get hot] chocolate or coffeeActually, they were holy pilgrims. Then, finally, despite a long and dangerous journey they arrived at Jerusalem, and went to Herod’s palace. 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. We must treat him as king, showing our absolute loyalty to him and holding onto his laws and decrees, his will and his commands. No relativistic or democratic attitude toward him, but absolute obedience to him, by remaining loyal and faithful to him even to the point of death.


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. These kings would stand behind their civilians and tell them to fight for himunder the rule of these selfish kings, people suffer a lot. But God granted Israel’s people wish, and God 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 king of the Jews. Our enemy sin has defeated us and beaten us; we were weak and powerless to fight against our sins. We fell into drugs. Some of us harmed people physically, emotionally and mentally. We could not stop ourselves, because sin forced us to do terrible things. We could not fight back. But while we were weak, our King Jesus fought our battles against sin by taking up his cross and filled his body with pain and sufferings. He sacrificed himself and rose from the dead for our victory over sin. He fought for us so that we would be forgiven of our sins and defeat sin in our lives. He did this so that we can be strong children of God who are not control by sin and defeated by sin any longer. Jesus is our King. 


Who would fight your sin? Only Jesus. Who would rescue you from your past mistake? Only Jesus your king. He is the ultimate Hero that we have longed for. Jesus is your King. If anyone rejects even this kind of perfect 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. 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 you accept him as your king? Will you 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 brought good news of joy to the Jews, God’s chosen peopleThe King of the Jews has finally come! At this, the people of Jerusalem should have rejoiced, and make a huge parade to go visit him. Yet, how did therespond? Look at verse 3. Let’s read this verse together:


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


What in the world?!!! They were disturbed at the news of the Messiah’s coming! Some people get excited about a new super hero movie. They go to comic-con and watch previewfor 5 minutesSometimes they camp out at the theatres to see the premiere. But when the real Hero, Jesus came to the world, Herod and all Jerusalem were disturbed. This means that they said to each other, "Aww man! Why is he here right now?" The Jews should have been excited because they talked about the coming Messiah for decades. They heard about his coming in Sabbath worship services for years. Now when the Messiah came they disliked his coming to the world. To them, the Messiah was an unexpected or even unwelcomed guest.Why? They were not truly ready for his first coming. If a pastor knocked on the door of a deacon’s house to give him a present, while the deacon played 50 Cents song "In Da club"loudlythat deacon would be embarrassed. He would say, "Huh! Hi Pastor. I didn’t know you were coming by. Can you come back tomorrow?"  The Jews felt like this, guilty and uncomfortable at Jesus’ first comingNo one pointed out their problems, but they themselves knew that they were not qualified to meet their Messiah, because the very life they had lived thus far testified against them. 


This is really a scary idea even to think about. There are so many people who go to church every Sunday and talk about Jesus' second coming. Once, a student asked me, "Do you believe in the pre-trib or post-trib rapture?" Having that knowledge does not mean anything. Jesus does not give you brownie points if you either believe in a pre-trib or post-trib rapture. What matters is that each person lives their lives in the manner worthy of his coming. Any person who lives this way will rejoice, sing and dance at his second coming--just like the first and second servants in the parable of the mina. But anyone who has not lived their life in a manner worthy of his coming will be scared and disturbed when Jesus comes. 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; thus, we must be ready for his coming by doing what he asks us to do every single day. 


What was the religious leaders’ response? Herod summoned all the chief priests and teachers of the law to ask them where the Christ was to be born (4). They answered without skipping a beat, 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 excellent. Even without looking at the Scriptures, they recited this prophecy in one breath. So, did they say to Herod, "Please, excuse us," andran 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. Their Bible knowledge was great, very specific, correct and impressive, yet they had no enthusiasm about the Messiah’s first coming. They did not even smile at the good news. They had no concern about the fulfillment of God's prophecy; maybe they felt too good to see the Messiah. Maybe, they were just interested in the benefits of being religious such as occupying high positions, receiving honor and respect; contrary to the Magi who had made a long journey to see and worship the new born king of the Jews, they did not make any effort to see him. They were not willing to sacrifice one night’s sweet sleep to see the Messiah. 

King Herod’s response was even worse. He felt that the birth of Jesus was a threat to his kingdom. Immediately he planned to kill the baby Jesus, assuming that the baby Jesus would become a threat to his throne. Later, Herod learned that he was outwitted by the Magi. He even ordered his soldiers to kill all the boys in Bethlehem who were two years old or under, to ensure baby Jesus would be killedIn this way, when Herod tried to save 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 times, they become enemies of God. Don't love anything in the world, but love God alone.


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, old 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 thesecret of this great delight? The secret was that they had been seeking the king of the Jews, the true object of their worship, with all their hearts and strength, and had finally found him. This is the joy only those who seek the true worthy object of their worship wholeheartedly come to enjoyWhen you seek him truly, you laugh loudly. Some people might say, "Man, you laugh like a hyena." You don’t care because you have joy in Jesus Christ. Jesus is your joy and heart’s delight. 


Christmas is the time we must rejoice because of Jesus. Tell your neighbor on your left, "Christmas is the time to rejoice" Tell it to your neighbor on your right. Those who have been seeking God can rejoice. But nowadays, people have made Christmas a commercialize holiday, as a result, it is one of the most burdensome time of the year; sadly, people suffer from headaches and depression, instead of rejoicing greatly. Today, let’s rejoice because of Jesus. Amen. Then you will not need any Motrin. 


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. Mary wore peasant clothes. She did not have an aura round her head. Then, what about the baby? He was just an infant new born baby. But these aged 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 deliver 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. Some people boldly say, "Only if God appears to me and shows me what to do, I will obey him." Christmas is the time when we must humble ourselves so that, like the Magi, we too can accept the new born baby Jesus as our King, even though he does not perform miracles for us yet.


Then they presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 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, bowed down to him and worshipedhim. 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. The Magi considered seeing him and worshiping him a great privilege that they wanted to secure it by any means,because Jesus is their King. Simply, the baby Jesus was worthy of all their time, money, and all their sacrifices. They were true worshipers of Jesus Christ. 


Modern day, people do not consider Jesus worthy of their time and money; so they do not attend worship service, saying, "I am busy," or "I go to church if I feel like it" or "I have to work". Even if they come to church on Sunday, their true purpose is not to worship Jesus, but to have some benefits in him such as a free ticket to heaven; they feel like the whole world revolves around them. They keep checking out the time, and wonder when church service will end. Or they think about the next Korean drama episode on Netflix. They are rich toward themselves that they pour out their time, energy and money for themselves freely, but for Jesus, they are so stingy, and rude towards him. Jesus is our Savior; he is our King; he is our God. So, he is worthy of our life's true devotion; even if we have to travel a lot to attend worship service, even if it is costly to come to worship service, Jesus is worthy of all our endeavors. Even if we sacrifice our entire life to serve him, Jesus is worthy. 


And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, the Magi returned to their country by another route. 


When I looked at how my peers were becoming financially stable and saw how they were making a lot more money than I was, I was dismayed at the reality of how I was struggling to make ends meet for me and my family. Some of my peers bought houses. Some bought new cars. What about me? I was wrestling with college students and facing rejections while my peers were more financially stable than I was. I felt like I have been struggling for years with very littleincome to survive every month to pay off student loans and daycare. The word "budget" came up a lot in my household.The desire to make more money was appealing. Because of this desire, I complained a lot about the things that I had to do. 

Our worship service on Luke 17:11-19 about the ten lepers receiving their sight from Jesus began to speak to me; particularly, the Samaritan’s man praising God in a loud voice resonated with me. While I was at the conference, I was moved by the Insanity of God -- specifically Demetri’s struggle to praise God for 17 years in one of Russia’s prison. I was brought to tears by his daily commitment to praising God.I complained a lot about my own Christian life about the losses and struggles yet even though Demetri was beaten day after day and locked up, he praised God every morning. After the conference, as I was sharing this story with one of my relatives, I decided that I should spend 1 hour a day to praising God. In that conversation with my relative I reasoned that there are always matters to complain about. But there are far more reasons to praise God. 

As a result of praising God for one hour each day, I came to have a new vantage point of seeing how blessed my life in Jesus is. I get to worship God in my generation which brings a great impact in my generation. Unlike some of my peers who own a house and party a lot, I am brining goodness to this generation by living my life as a shepherd for college students. My whole life is aligning to what the Bible says, and people can see either through my life or by what I say what the Bible actually says. God is making me a living testimony of what the Bible says. Who could imagine that my life is about sharing about who Jesus is and what Jesus has done? I am living my life that shows how great he is. Some of my peers are living their lives to show how great money is or how great their careers are or how great their houses are and even how great their dogs are. Yet I am showing the world that Jesus is far greater than what people pursue in this life. Not every church going person can testify that their life is a living example of how great Jesus is, yet my life is testifying to his greatness. I am living a wonderful life! I am not rich. I don’t own a house. I am still in financial debt, however, yet I am rich at worshipping Jesus. I am rich to serve him and live for him. I am rich in giving my life to him and rich to be in the fellowship with him. I am rich to work with him. I am even an instrument that supports college students to grow up, and live for Jesus. 

For the recent conference, my wife and I even put our daughter in the hands of relatives that live for far away from us just so that my wife and I can be God’s expression of love to students at the conference. We were not bothered; in fact, my wife and I are even rich with gratitude to do such a thing, and we have delighted at witnessing students repent and love God, right before our very eyes. We’ve had the blessed opportunity at witnessing God’s amazing love change lives right before our eyes. Not everyone in the world is blessed to see what we see. I realized that my sacrifices and hardships are my opportunities to worship him, and not the reasons to complain. 

Today, God has blessed me to be a Christmas messengerI am like a star directing others to worship Jesus. I thank God for his blessing on my life. I also get to share in the joy the Magi had in worshipping Baby Jesus. Now I will continue to worship Jesus with joy, and will continue testify to the world about how great he is even to the end of my life. 


One Word: We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.