Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Nativity - Part 2: Wisemen

The Nativity
Part 2 - Wise Men
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |


Matthew 2:1-13
 1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

 6 “‘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 shepherd my people Israel.’[

7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 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, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

The Escape to Egypt

13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”


From our earliest memories of the Christmas story, we have heard of the three wise men, or three kings from afar.  As we examine the scriptures, we will discover who they were, where they came from and why we consider them wise.


a.      First, there were not three of them
                                                             i.      The scriptures do not tell us there were three of them.  This is an assumption that has been made because there were three gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh.

                                                          ii.      More likely, this was a caravan of travelers, perhaps dozens traveling a great distance together with many camels to carry all of their supplies, tents, food, gifts ect...

b.     Magi, not wise men
                                                             i.      The scripture refers to them as Magi, the literal Greek uses the word magos, not wise men.

                                                          ii.      The Greek word Magos means, magician.

                                                       iii.      We see from the scriptures in Daniel 2:2 that they were magicians, sorcerers, astrologers and Chaldeans.

c.      What Magi believed
                                                             i.      Magicians, sorcerers, astrologers, Chaldeans, the Magi believed not in a personal God or deity, but in the forces of nature.

                                                          ii.      They worshipped fire, earth, air, water, not gods who ruled over the elements, but the elements themselves.  This is the group responsible for starting the use of divining rods to seek out elements.

                                                       iii.      However, this was prominent during the time of Daniel, over the centuries, the Greek term became a generic title for anyone who studied astronomy, science or other schooled art.
d.     Why the Magi were not magicians, sorcerers or astrologers
                                                             i.      The proof is in the Magi’s belief itself.  True Magi did not worship anyone or anything other than the elements themselves. 

                                                          ii.      More likely, the generic title magi was used for them because they were religious philosophers who had become familiar with Jewish prophecies through studying the writings of Daniel, Jeremiah, Ezra and other Jews scattered throughout the east.


a.      Perhaps they were looking for someone who would bring world peace and their search for answers read God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 22:18?
                                                             i.      “through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

b.     Perhaps they read Isaiah 9:6?
                                                             i.      “For to us a child is born,
   to us a son is given,
   and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
   Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
   Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

c.      They may have read from the book of laws in Numbers 24:17
                                                             i.      “I see him, but not now;
   I behold him, but not near.
A star will come out of Jacob;
   a scepter will rise out of Israel.”

d.     All of these scriptures would have been available to them at the time, and men who studied would have read these.

e.      We know now from Revelation 22:16 that Jesus is the bright morning star.

f.       Regardless of how many they were, who they were, where they lived or what they were called, the important thing is what they did. They followed the star that would guide them to the Messiah.


a.      When seeking the King of Kings, you may miss the mark if you follow the world’s point of view.

                                                             i.      The Magi searched for the King of the Jews, we know they expected to find Him in a mansion or a royal court, because the scriptures tell us they first went to the King asking where the King of the Jews was.

                                                          ii.      Sometimes in life, we too can lose our way when we are trying to find the Lord.

1.      We take our eyes off the sign we are told in scripture to follow, and use our own understanding as the Magi did, where we too can find ourselves in the house of wickedness.

2.      They sign they were given to follow was the star, the sign we are given to follow in this life is Christ’s teachings found in the Word of God.

a.      Take your eye off it, and you may find yourself somewhere you do not want to be.

                                                       iii.      We see from the story though, that the magi had right intentions, they were “seeking” the Lord, and eventually found Him.

1.      We are promised by Jesus, seek me and you will find me, for everyone who seeks me, will find me.  Matthew 7:7-8
b.     The difference between an earthly king and the King of Kings

                                                             i.      We saw in scripture, when the magi stood before King Herod, they asked, “Where is the King of the Jews?”

1.      Remember, King Herod was illegitimately sitting at the throne of David.  According to the world’s standards, he was the King of the Jews, but according to the Word of God, Herod was sitting in Jesus’ seat.

                                                          ii.      When the magi find Jesus as a young child with Mary, they immediately fell down and worshipped Him.

1.      Another sign they were not true Magi who only worshipped the elements.

                                                       iii.      The wise men have just come from the splendors of Herod’s palace at Jerusalem. They stood before King Herod in all his regalia. Now they find themselves at a shack in Bethlehem and before them is a child, and they fall and worship Him.

c.      The magi could have given up seeking Jesus.  They could have simply blamed circumstance, the evil of the world around them, or the devil himself for not finding the King of Kings.

                                                             i.      But they did not stop until they found Him!

                                                          ii.      Joseph – sold into slavery. Lied to by his brothers – falsely accused in Potiphar’s house – forgotten about in prison – But God made him something when he was nothing – Joseph found the Lord and worshipped Him regardless of the circumstances in his life!

                                                       iii.      Daniel - along with the other teen Israelites were imprisoned by Babylonian oppressors who over-threw their land, he was taught the ways of the Babylonians and grew to be a leader in Babylonia.  Daniel found God and worshipped Him regardless of the evil in the land that surrounded him and the Lord sent angels to protect him when he was punished for worshipping God.

                                                         iv.      Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego were also captured in Daniels time, they too never allowed the world around them and its twisted ways to stop them from worshipping the Lord, and Jesus protected them when they were punished for worshipping the Lord.

                                                            v.      Paul was in prison, he writes to the church at Philippi, telling them to cheer up. Paul did not allow circumstances in his life to keep him from worshipping God.

d.     When the magi found the Lord, they offered Him their best

                                                             i.      Matthew 2:11they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”

1.      Gold, symbolizes Kingship on earth, Jesus is the King of Kings!

2.      Frankincense, symbolizes His priesthood, for Jesus is The High Priest!

3.      Myrrh is embalming oil.  Why would they give embalming oil for death to a child? The answer is, Myrrh symbolizes Jesus’ atoning death for the forgiveness of sins.

                                                          ii.      These treasures, as the scriptures call them, were not only symbolic, but the best that the magi had to offer the Lord.

1.      When you come to the Lord, are you giving Him your best?

2.      Wise men give their very best and then some
Wise men forgive people and then some
Wise men walk the extra mile and then some


So, what can we learn from the wise men?

         What star are you following?  Is it one by the world’s standards, or is it the sign given to you in the Word of God?

         Do you still seek the Lord, or have you allowed the circumstances of life to become an excuse for you to stop seeking?

         When you find the Lord, do you fall down and worship Him?

         When you worship the Lord, do you truly give Him your best, your all, everything?

God has given us his sign to follow, which is the word of God.

The Lord promises that if we seek Him, we will find Him, if we follow His sign.

When we find Him, we must fall down, submit and worship Him, giving Him our everything.

Do not allow the world or circumstances around you to become an excuse to stop seeking your Savior, because He is the only Savior there is, and you cannot do without Him!