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WITNESSES TO CHRISTíS BIRTH:
The Wise Men

I. Introduction: 

 Just like we said with the shepherds last week, the visit of the wise men to see the Christ-child should surprise us.  We donít know how many there were or their names (most assume three since Matthew mentions three gifts) and it seems that they actually came after Jesus had been alive for awhile (perhaps even a year old).  Likewise, although many point out the possible significance of gold, frankincense, and myrrh for the life and death of Jesus, these gifts were more likely mentioned only because of their value.  Yet, even if you take away some of these traditions that surround the story of the wise men, what Matthew does tell us is still significant.  Let me point out two reasons why.

II.  The significance of the visit of the Wise Men:

 A.  Their visit is significant due to the supernatural elements: When they first arrive at Herodís palace they ask where the king of the Jews has been born?  Then they explain that they are looking for Him because we saw his star when it rose.  Later, after they leave Herod, the same star leads them to the place where Jesus was at.  Of course, much speculation has been spent on just what this Ďstarí was.  Yet, however you answer the question, Godís control of the event cannot be denied.  He sovereignly led these men to be witnesses of the Christ and sovereignly protected Jesus by warning them in a dream to not go back to Herod.  We donít know all of the details concerning why they were looking for the king of the Jews or where they came from, but Matthew makes it clear that their coming was part of Godís sovereign plan.

 B.  Their visit is significant due to the fact that they were Gentiles: They tell Herod that they have come to see the king of the Jews and to worship him.  The term Ďworshipí could simply refer to them paying honor to someone of authority.  But even so, you cannot miss the contrast between their response to the birth of the king of the Jews and the Jewsí response.  Herod asks the chief priests and the scribes where the Christ was to be born and they quote him the Micah passage that states that He would be born in Bethlehem.  Yet, they do not bother to go and see if the king of the Jews has actually been born.  It sure seems that they would be very eager to find the one who is said to be their king.  Yet, as John points out (John 1:11), Jesusí own people, the Jews, did not receive Him.  Who did receive Him?  Who did inquire about Him?  Who did visit Him and bring Him gifts?  The Wise Men, the Magi, the Gentiles, they were there.

III.  Conclusion:

 Again, like with the shepherds, we can identify with the wise men.  They were outsiders.  They were not a part of Godís chosen people, the Jews.  They were Gentiles, just like us.  How interesting that even at the beginning of the story of Christ we see the inclusion of the nations.  So then, how should we respond to such good news?  With the wise men, may we bring ourselves to this baby who was born king of the Jews.  We know more than they knew, for we know of His death and resurrection for our sins.  Surely, He is worthy of all that we are.  Amen.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 22 December 2010 )

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