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February 9, 2021 7:00 am
Imagine the typical nativity scene were all familiar with the traditional pieces but there's actually quite a bit of mystery within the story they tell who were the so-called wisemen. Why did they bring murder was the supposed star. They followed her, to the planet or something else stay with us for this broadcast of the Bible study hours has Dr. James Boyce unpacks the meaning behind these mysteries are welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly as Dr. Boyce continues through this series and Matthew we are reminded again today that the gospel is for all people. What better way for Matthew to communicate that message, then, to include the account of the Gentile Magi coming to worship the Jewish king.
The very first letter that the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth. The told him to look around at their congregation and pay attention to the kind of people that are becoming Christians.
And this is what he said not many wise men by human standards but many influential not many of noble birth have been chosen by God to know Jesus Christ as a true observation generally and yet there are some because when we turn to the very beginning of the Gospels to the story of the birth of Christ and those who came to worship him. Some of them from very far off. We find that there were those who were wives. Those who were of noble birth and those who were influential we call them wisemen and they were quite important people because when they came to Jerusalem late caused quite a stir. Everybody noticed that these important people had, and they had come asking where Jesus Christ was born where they were going to be able to find and worship the one that was the king of the Jews is what they said where is the one that was been born king of the Jews. We saw his star in the East and have come to worship him on the Bible doesn't tell us very much about these change in visitors. Scholars have been puzzling about them trying to figure out who they were actually where they came from. Ever since we all get cards and Christmas time and time wisemen on them always. Three of them bearing their free gas, but nothing in the Bible tells us that there were three wise men doesn't even say that they were wisemen actual word in the Bible is what we call Magi so required my Galway means great ones, but it doesn't really tell us how they were great, how they got there often in our cards. We have them worshiping the infant Jesus in the stable, but it would seem from the details of the story that they probably got there later because Herod when he found that the wisemen were coming back to tell them where the child was had all the children in Bethlehem killed two years of age and under and so it would be a clue. Perhaps that that wisemen had seen the star long ago and took them, perhaps almost 2 years to get there is a little detail in the story would perhaps suggest that because when they came they didn't find Jesus in the stable in a manger it said.
Rather, they came in the house.
It seems like the family had settled down there in Bethlehem. In the meantime but we don't know much about that.
We don't know much about the story either. Everybody's puzzled a lot about what that star was the earliest explanation of it way back in the early history of the church was that it was a comment. Comments were considered to be quite important in those days, a comment went across the sky ran all sorts of things into it.
So that became a natural explanation. You know the name of Johannes Kepler, the father of modern astronomy.
You might know that he explained the phenomenon as a conjunction of two planets Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation of Pisces which took place about seven BC and if you visit planetariums at Christmas time where they do stories about the stars of the state popular explanation that you got.
But the problem with it is that that never did actually look like a star. It was just two planets together. Besides, it obviously didn't move that seems to be what's required by the story. Probably the best explanation of that star as it was a miracle of God and sent some bright object in the sky to guide the wisemen. The best explanation I know is that it was the Shekinah glory that had guided the people of Israel during the days of their wandering in the wilderness. At any rate, it seemed to have moved brought them the holy land were told in the story that after they had left Herod's palace and came and stood over the place where the young child was require something like that to explain what were told about it in the Bible, but the point I want to make is that the explanation of those things is not given to us by Matthew doesn't give us details as to the number of the wisemen are exactly where they came from or how long it took them to get there instead. When we read the story, the emphasis seems to be on the fact that these Gentiles came to worship a Jewish king very significant in Matthew's gospel because when you come to the end you find a great statement, which we call the great commission, saying that the disciples are to take the gospel of God's salvation in Jesus Christ to all nations everywhere. So from the very beginning of Matthew's gospel to the very end, we find that the gospel is for the world. And then there's the emphasis upon the gifts that come in at the end of the story. The wisemen brought their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Obviously they're very significant is why there mentioned there.
Just think about the gifts of thought about gold.
First of all I was bowled an appropriate gift for Jesus Christ.
Well it was appropriate because gold is the metal of Kings is a scholar that has written many books of the Bible by the name of William Barclay and he always has interesting little details in his commentaries that you don't usually find anywhere else in in his particular study of Matthew to tells us something that Seneca the great Roman orator said concerning gifts given to Kings and Persia said it was considered wrong and personal to approach the king without a gift you're going to see a king. You had to have a gift and the best of all possible gifts when you went to visit a king was gold because he said gold is the king of metals and therefore a good gift for kings. That's what the wisemen seem to of done when archaeologists dig up ancient sites.
One way they can tell if the tomb that they are excavating is the tomb of an important person is whether or not it contains gold they dig up to him and they find in it, gold artifacts, etc. clothing. This person was certainly wealthy because most people didn't have gold. The barium ground and only wealthy.
Probably from a royal family, and most likely a king.
So if you visit museums you sometimes find that in Greece there's a little town of Mycenae now ruin that was occupied about the time of the Trojan war. I found a lot of artifacts and famous burial ground there and if you go to the archaeological Museum in Athens, you find there that there is a famous death mask, called the death mask of Agamemnon.
It's made of pure gold. It's one of the great artifacts of the ancient world. Again, if you go to the archaeological state Museum in Cairo and look there at the things that were found in the tomb of King, in upper Egypt. You'll find that there is literally priceless gold that was buried with this very important king was discovered in 1922 by an Englishman's name is Howard Carter so gold is the metal of Kings sometimes been pointed out that the gold that was given to Joseph and Mary. Thereby, the wisemen might have been the way God provided for them so that later when they had to take a trip to Egypt and live there to escape from the anger apparently had something to spam and that probably is true, but it's not the point that Matthew was making in the story when he says that these wise men from the East came and presented Jesus with the gift of boldness away. They had of saying that he's the king. Not only is he that continues the King of Kings and he's Lord of lords, incense, incense was a symbolic gift to. It was used in the temple worship in Israel. It was mixed with the oil was used to anoint the priests. I was blended into the meal offerings that were presented in the temple as Thanksgiving offerings by the Jewish people gave to the burning meal, a pleasant odor so it's probably in reference to that, that the apostle Paul when he wrote to the Philippians to thank them for a gift that they had given him said that their sacrifice was a fragrant offering and acceptable sacrifice pleasing to God. So when these wise men brought incense to Jesus. It was a way of acknowledging, either intentionally if they understood as much, or unintentionally, that Jesus was our great high priest, one whose whole life was entirely pleasing to his father couple interesting facts about incense.
One of them is that it was never mixed with the sin offerings. The meal offerings were Thanksgiving offerings and the incense was mixed with them, but the meat and wine offerings were offerings for sin. I was never mixed with them. So when we remember that we think naturally of Jesus who was utterly sinless. He said to his enemies.
On one occasion which of you convicted the assembly, which of you have anything that you can possibly accuse me of that large wrongdoing and had absolutely nothing to say I said on another occasion, he said, I do always those things that please my father, Jesus was absolutely sinless, great.
Barnhouse wrote the sermon on these gifts some years ago and he said this we see from the symbolism of these gifts that the eternal royalty and holiness of Christ were announced from his earliest years you come forth from heaven to perform a work of redemption and he was prepared in every way to do the father's will, so that he might fulfill every demand and every obligation of the law. Only thus would he be eligible to die on the cross and by the cross alone redeem the world that life could show that he was the fit candidate for the cross and so we cling with surety to the work that was accomplished there at Calvary. Since we know that our sin bearer was himself without sin. What is one more gift and that's the gift of murder.
Just because gold was a symbol of Christ's kinship and incense was symbolic of the perfection of his life. So murder speaks of his death. That's because murder was used in embalming the trappings of death were important in that age just as they are at our age. Although way we go about it is different. Because of this murder was very important item of commerce in the ancient world, we discover that a suit is returned to the Bible and begin to read it with more in mind we remember, for example, that when Jesus was crucified on the cross Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea wanted to prepare the body for burial and were told there that they use the hundred pounds of spices which were more mixed with aloe some sort of resin kind of gone. So if 100 pounds of this combination were used for just one body gives you an idea how much murder was bought and sold in the ancient world were again you go to the book of Revelation and one of the cities of Asia Minor, to which one of those early letters was written was Smyrna smart is just the Greek word from our exactly the same word and it was called Smyrna because the manufacture and the distribution of murder seems to of been his most important industry now by any human standard would be offensive to give anybody a gift or Mart wouldn't it would be like giving them a gun and saying why don't you shoot yourself at would be a lot to say the very least.
But in this case, it wasn't offensive and it wasn't odd because the wisemen presumably know exactly what they were doing their gift was actually a gift of faith don't know how much of that future ministry of Jesus Christ wisemen were enabled by God understand, but we know when we read the Old Testament that what it tells us about the coming of the Messiah is that he was going to come to die. Think of Psalm 22, for example, which describes Jesus death by crucifixion, so verse from Absalom the very end. Jesus cried out when he was hiding on the cross he cried out my God my God why have you forsaken me again about Isaiah 53 verses four and five.
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows that we considered him stricken by God, afflicted he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities the punishment that brought us peace was upon him by his wounds we are healed. These verses and others like it tell us that Jesus came to suffer for our sin and that future suffering was symbolized by this gift of myrrh. Some other use of more but significant here because it's so use the Lord Jesus Christ refused sometimes murder was used as an anesthetic to deaden pain may recall that at the time of the crucifixion. One of the things the soldiers did was to mix murder with wine and offered to Jesus to drink and he didn't drink it because it was meant to deaden this pain.
It was a way sort of helping out on the part of the soldiers. Jesus didn't do that because he was willing to bear all of the suffering that could possibly be inflicted upon them as he was suffering for our sin. Later on when he was hanging on the cross.
Remember you said I first in order to have one verse of the Psalms fulfilled and they took a sponge.
They dipped it in wine vinegar and held it up to his lips and he didn't drink about medication, but there was no more mixed with it so is very significant in the life of Christ not only what it symbolized and how it was actually used in the end I mentioned William Barclay. Here's the summary gold from the king frankincense to the priest murder for one who was to die these with the gifts of the wisemen and even at the cradle of Christ.
They foretold that he was to be the true king, the perfect high priest, and in the end, the supreme Savior of man. Well enough about the gifts. Let's think a little bit about the wisemen themselves. It's true that we don't know very much about them. As I said earlier, we don't even know if they can properly be called wisemen because that's not a good translation of the word Maglite which means the great ones, although that may not be a good translation wisemen really were wisemen and it's worth thinking just a little bit about the ways in which they really were wise. Why were they wise. Well first of all, they were wise enough to seek Jesus God and inform them in some way about the birth of this Jewish king don't know exactly how they were far away in the East, probably in Persia and they said to themselves well what should we do and I said well we ought to do.
The only wise thing to seek them out and slowly got a caravan together, they made that long trip across the desert actually to come and find it. We went to Jerusalem which was the capital city of the Jews and when they got there they began to ask where he was. Apparently they just began asking everywhere because wasn't just from Herod that they asked the question, Herod doesn't come into the story and about halfway through, so it seems that they just got into the city and they said where is this one who's born King of the Jews and nobody seemed to know the question when around and eventually got answered as you know by the high priests so they show their wisdom by actually seeking Jesus out makes us when asked that question in a personal way. Are you wise enough to seek Jesus's birth has been announced widely and often automatic day. Of course many many people to know about it then, but today everybody does what we talk about a Christmas it's the birth of Christ there is no mystery. So the question is have you found them. If you haven't found Jesus Christ come to know him as your Savior and your Lord, you still seeking for not seeking you're not as wise as the wisemen who kept on seeking until he actually was found. And secondly they were wise enough to ask where he was a know he was wasn't very much information to be had by asking asking people who might know that I finally got the answer is really rather remarkable because these were the Magi. After all, it means the great ones. They were the important people back in their own country, it would be natural for people to come to them for answers to know where Jesus was new a lot but they did know that so they went around the band. Ask people everywhere.
Eventually they got the answer from the religious leaders of the nation may have the answer because it was in the Bible. They said all the answer is in the book of Micah's in the fifth chapter. It's a second verse goes like this, but you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah for all of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel when they heard that they learn the Christ was to be born in Bethlehem nearby town, and I think they must've learned something else to because I think they learn not only from what was said, but also from what was not set. They came expecting Jesus to a been born in Jerusalem the capital city, probably in the palace of the king, but he wasn't so what God was doing was, not endorsing the ruling monarchy. But God was doing something different than asking that he was sending was being born in that little town of Bethlehem. Quite a distance away must've.
Notice also that Jesus wasn't to be found in the temple.
If you think of them as a spiritual leader, you might say, well perhaps that's where he should've been done. Maybe he's going to be the child of one of the priests of Israel, or perhaps a high priest but he wasn't found there either. Moreover, I think as they listen to the explanation of these scribes and Pharisees and other religious leaders of the people got the answer and then work's mystical often find them if they can, but unaccompanied by religious leaders. They must realize that these men were supposed to know the law and actually knew the answer to the question were probably unspiritual and on were the men had the answers you say, but they didn't make the effort to go and find their Messiah that bother you didn't bother the wisemen.
I said well that's not our responsibility. Our responsibility is to go seek out this one that God is made known to us, and so they (and is powerless in my left priests in their temple and they made a journey to Jerusalem until they found, let me point out the way they knew where he was is that they learned about it from the Bible where Jesus is to be found today in the Bible and it makes me ask the question argue wise enough to find Jesus from the Bible wise when I do go a long distance find. Amanda asked many different people answers there in the Bible and you don't have to go far to get the answer to that today.
The way to come to know Jesus Christ is in the Bible.
This is what Paul writes in the 10th chapter of Romans. This is what he wrote say in your heart who will ascend into heaven, that is, to bring Christ down or who will descend into the deep, that is, to bring Christ up from the dead.
What does it say says the word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart that is the word of faith that we are proclaiming. The point is that Jesus is present in the gospel and whoever calls upon the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved is 1/3 way in which the wise men were wise. Once they had found them they were wise enough to worship them. This is important because it is a kind of seeking. That really is an honest seeking exit kind of seeking after wisdom for its own sake but with an unwillingness to follow where that knowledge actually should leave, especially in spiritual things.
Some people just love learning and they use that as an excuse for their unbelief while they learned about Jesus and all about. But now they think the learn about something else. All that in the coming use it as a way of failing to come to terms with Jesus Christ the wisemen to do that because they knew from the beginning that when they found him they were going to fall down and worship them and present their gifts so that's the point at which we come out we apply it this way and I ask you have you fallen down and worshiped Christ disappointed Christmas after all, it's not time just to be entertained by a story.
It's to present the coming of the son of God in the human life in order that he might die and be our Savior. So the question is have you found them to be your Savior and if you have have you worshiped him, and have you given them your gifts as well. As wisemen did you do to find Jesus with the surest way is to determine in advance that you will worship and when you do find them other words, if you fall down before him and recognize him to be the son of God, which he truly is. You have to begin by praying something like this. You want to say Lord Jesus Christ. I don't know yet where you are or how I can find you. I followed a lot of false leads and some of them are in my own heart.
I recognize that I'm ambivalent in this. I want to find you, and that not quite but I want to make this determination. Now that if you will lead me to yourself. So I really do find you and come to understand who you are and I say in advance when I do that I'm going to accept you as God my Savior and my Lord and I'm going to fall down and worship you.
That's the surest of all possible ways to find the answer to life in finding Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ a lot of stands behind it all will certainly enable you to find but I wanted you have already found you are already a Christian. While in that case, you need to offer them your gifts as wisemen did start with your mother.
Remember that murder is a symbol of Christ's death is not only that it's a symbol of all kinds of definite auto include your own death as well as your death of the past. One of the ways the apostle Paul developer talking about becoming a Christian was to say you have to die to what you are in order that you might rise to new life in Jesus Christ anyone is become a Christian is no longer what he or she was so you need to come to Jesus and say something like that.
You need to say. I recognize now because you are my Lord and my Savior. And because you have brought me to yourself that I don't belong to myself anymore that all past of mind that old life is gone for good. Now I want to look for you. That's what it means offer Jesus your murder about your incense and seven symbolizes worship that's the case you need worship him as your Savior and Lord. Because worship is often expressed in prayer incense was often used in prayer and symbolizes the offering up of your life.
Jesus comes to living here. We will do good works, so that the deeds produced in your life will in turn become a fragrant offering acceptable and pleasing to God. Just as the offering of the Philippians was that the apostle Paul.
And finally, you need to bring your gold when you offer your gold to acknowledge the right of Jesus Christ to rule in your life so you say you are the king, I am your servant direct my life as you choose to direct, I am delighted to walk in the way I should go on is one last thing you do those things. I think you'll find something else very important. It comes in at the very end of the story concerning the wisemen. What we are told is that after having been warned not to go back to Herod because of his murderous intentions.
They return to their own country by another roof or in another way. I will be true of you if the wisemen become your pattern you find Jesus Christ you fall down before Avenue worship Avenue offer in your gifts gifts of your gold or frankincense and by then you'll find that your life will be totally redirected to be going in a different way entirely and it will be good that you do is pray father were thankful that we had an opportunity to think together about the wisemen and their gifts. We pray that you would bless that study is a reminder to us at this Christmas season. Wisemen seemed to of been wisemen.
So often we are not wise of all we are foolish. Help us to be wise spiritual things in the ordering of our lives, above all in seeking finding falling down worshiping and then serving Jesus Christ whom to know is life eternal prayer is now you are listening to the Bible study hours with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals.
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