Matthew 2:1–11 (ESV): 2 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.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 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.’ ”
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.” 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, frankincense, and myrrh.
Matthew 2:1-11 – The Illuminating Manifestation
Want to do a fun exercise? What are some of the notable epiphanies of your life?
- Jerry and Janis Friedeman were pretty wonderful parents.
- When I teach, I feel His pleasure.
- When I teach/preach in a prison, I feel His pleasure even more.
- The greatest place in my world is 4417 Hickory Ridge Rd. in Jackson, MS, or…wherever Mary Friedeman is. Related to that last item…I have great taste in women.
- Being a parent to a full quiver of children was a lot more meaningful, fun, and joy-giving than anyone suggested it would be.
- The more I recognize that life is not about me, for the most part, but about others, the happier I become.
Epiphany in the Bible is the day of celebration commemorating the Magi finding Jesus; It was the manifestation of Jesus to the Gentiles.
1. A Gentile Epiphany
God is going to use us to reach the whole world.
Gen. 12 – the call of Abraham was a call to bless Abraham so his family might bless the nations. Matthew structures His gospel so that at the beginning, you have Gentiles prominent, and at the very close – they are prominent again (make disciples of the nations!).
Philip Yancey writes:
As I read accounts of the New Testament church, no characteristic stands out more sharply than [diversity). Beginning with Pentecost, the Christian church dismantled the barriers of gender, race, and social class that had marked Jewish congregations. Paul, who as a rabbi had given thanks daily that he was not born a woman, slave, or Gentile, marveled over the radical change: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus,”
One modern Indian pastor told me, “Most of what happens in Christian churches, including even miracles, can be duplicated in Hindu and Muslim congregations. But in my area, only Christians strive, however ineptly, to mix men and women of different castes, races, and social groups. That’s the real miracle.”
Diversity complicates rather than simplifies life; perhaps for this reason, we tend to surround ourselves with people of similar age, economic class, and opinion. [But) Church (should] offer a place where infants and grandparents, unemployed and executives, [different races) immigrants and blue bloods can come together..,
When I walk into a new church, the more its members resemble each other-and resemble me-the more uncomfortable I feel. Source: Philip Yancey, “Denominational Diagnostics,”
Christianity Today (November 2008), p. 119
It’s a messy thing, being diverse!
Have you had any Gentile epiphanies lately – meaning…have you relationally warmed up to those substantially different than you for the Gospel’s sake? It is the essence of the Great Commission – “Go…make disciples of panta ta ethne…all the people groups.
2. How to Worship
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.”
Herod used the word “worship” with the Magi, but what he really meant is that He wanted to treat Jesus in a way that would elevate and preserve his own standing in life.
Do we worship that way? Tithe that way? Pray that way? To elevate and preserve ourselves? To get some advantage? To USE God?
11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed low and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
The Magi came to give. Give King Jesus praise and worship. Give Him gifts. Give Him unadulterated attention.
So…why do you worship Him? To get something for yourself – be kind to God to He’ll be kind to you. That kind of faith will never get you through living through ‘the dark night of the soul” (like Job). Is our faith a jailhouse faith, a prosperity gospel faith…or is it the faith of someone who worships the face of God first and then His hand?
3. A Gift Greater Than Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.
We don’t know what happened to these Magi. It is largely suspected that those gifts, however, sponsored Joseph, Mary, and Baby Jesus’ flight to Egypt to escape Herod’s murder.
Do you know a greater gift than all of that?
I’ve told you about the guy that wanted to buy that pearl. Man, he wanted that pearl. So the man said he’d sell it to him. How much? All the money on you. All the money in the bank.
All your IRA/retirement accounts. That car. That boat. That house. That woman. Those kids.
“That’s it, man, that’s all I’ve got!” One more thing – I want YOU.
Guy showing off his car yesterday. Fancy. Expensive, Stick-shift. Roared away. I wondered – did he talk to Jesus about that car? Because he bought it with Jesus’ money, not His. When he came to Jesus and declared Christ to be Lord and Savior, which meant His money, too. Did he talk to Jesus about that $70,000 car?
The greater gift than gold, frankincense, and myrrh – or what turned out to be an all-expense paid trip to Egypt – would have been the very lives of the Magi.
Or, for you, YOU. And all you possess, all your relationships, all you’ve got.
It said that the Magi went home by a different route. Spiritually, that’s exactly what He wants with your life. Today. Right now.