A Child of Magnitude
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 and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. (Matthew 2:1-12 ESV)
I see everyone survived the earthquake this week. I heard it was about a 4.4 on the richter scale. HOw many people felt it? How many slept right on through. This was my third earthquake to go through. So i felt it woke up and knew what was going on, and it stopped and I thought, “If its bad I ll hear sirens, and laid back down.” It went unnoticed because it was a relatively small magnitude. Bigger the magnitude the more we notice right.
The bigger the magnitude of anything the more we notice and pay attention. Earthquakes or even elections. If you look at the election of a president or leader, when that person is installed you have some people who are excited about it. Think about DC and people on the back of the capitol building with their banners of celebration and the excitement. But at every election you also have people out their with their protests. Every time I went to downtown DC we signs of people protesting something. And then you also have a matter of people who no matter the magnitude they are completely indifferent. The new president means nothing to them.
You can do this with politics. You can do it with sports. Each time Alabama wins their fans are ecstatic and most others are upset. You also have a large group of people completely indifferent and don’t know a game was played.
The stakes are raised with the bigger the scenario. They are raised when you go from the election of a Mayor, to a Governor, to a president. There is more power, more at stake for the higher office. People can seem like their life is over when the wrong president gets elected. Hollywoord stars begin saying they are going to move to France.
In this passage we see a major event has taken place in the world. Its not that a president was elected, but that a king is born. His coming shakes the world. And the normal responses are heightened.
Big Idea: The magnitude of who Jesus is demands our worship.
Three responses to his coming.
- The Child is Worshipped
First thing to see is the the child is worshipped. Magi from the east come to worship him.
Worship: praised him. They gave up the things they love to honor him. You worship the things that you are willing to give everything else up for. You never miss a football game is; you can tell what is the center of your life. Never miss an episode of wheel of fortune; never miss… that is your God.
The word for worship (Proskunew) means to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence; 1) from a basic sense bow down to kiss someone's feet, garment hem, or the ground in front of him; with falling face down in front of someone worship, venerate, do obeisance to;
This is quite the reaction to a child. To an infant. But who he is and who God has revealed this child to be is grounds for extreme celebration and devotion. We have seen this child is the one who was promised, of the line of Abraham and David, an heir to the throne and promised an eternal reign. He is a child of such magnitude that people worship him, not just like him, but bow down at his feet.
But also not who worships him. Magi come to see him. Some have translated this as “kings.” They are not kings. That tradition wrongly comes from Isaiah 62:10 that says the kings of Tarshish and Isles and of Sheba would offer gifts to the messiah. These people certainly offer gifts but those places were in the opposite direction (south and west). These magi are from the east. Some speculated on number of them, some said there were fourteen, others said there were three, hence the Christmas song three kings. The reason they suggested three was because they brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh. So neither three nor kings. As way of fun I did think if we ever renamed the church maybe we should call ourselves “Five Kings Church.” When people ask why can sternly say because that’s who came to worship Jesus at his birth!! :-)
The word Magi is actually a Persian word (Iran). The magnitude of Jesus reached to other countries. This is an unusual word. It looks like our word for magic. Some have translated it “wise men.” It’s only other occurrences are in the book of Daniel when babylonian kings wish to have dreams interpreted they call their wise men, astrologers, soothsayers. These are not the people you would think to be worshipping the Savior, but Jesus welcomes the most unusual people.
God does something unusual in the heavens to announce the birth of his Son. He is calling all people to himself and it begins at his birth. The gentiles, the magicians, the astrologers, the Iranians, all come to worship him.
One of the most distasteful aspects of Christianity for people today is what is known as the exclusivity of Christ. That salvation comes only through Jesus and is not found in any other. People want to be inclusive. How can you tell someone their way is wrong?? Its unthinkable. Unless you are not on board with that, then you suddenly feel the exclusivity of inclusivity.
But here it is amazing that those outside the people of God, in another land, those given to astrology are coming to Christ. In the Bible salvation only comes through JEsus Christ. It is through belief in his name and only found there. And here we see the power of an exclusive God who includes the most unlikely people. And that is a theme of the Bible. So yes, the Bible is exclusive that salvation only comes through Jesus Christ but it is a gospel in which all people can receive. His magnitude has no bounds.
God meets these Magi in a unique way that they could understand. He meets them where they were at. In Iran doing Astrology!
They have seen his star, it’s his star, and he owns it. That’s his magnitude.
They are looking for him who “is born king of the Jews.” Not the one who will be king. He is a king ontologocially. Most rulers are rulers because of what they achieve. The rise in the ranks. This king is king everlasting.
His magnitude stretches through land and time, it goes into eternity past.
"'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.'" (Mat 2:6 ESV)
These words come from the prophet Michah who lived about 750-715 bc. Michah came to confront the people’s rebellion and pronounce judgment for those who did not turn to the Lord. HE preached repentance and how their futures could be changed through such repentance. God promised a shepherd king, one who would not just rule as king but care for people as a shepherd. Micah announced the coming messiah who would come from Bethlehem. Not the great city of Jerusalem but a lesser city and yet a city who would be great because this child would come from there.
Such great news can only be received with exuberance. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. (Mat 2:10 ESV). How did they rejoice: exceedingly. With what did they rejoice: great joy. There is an exuberance.
The give their treasures to show their gratitude, devotion, excitement, passion. They are giving their glory to glorify him.
The magi left their country and all they have to give gifts to this child and worship him. They do what Jesus will command his disciples at the end of the book. They are going to new countries and lands to worship the Savior.
Everyone is a worshiper; it’s just a matter of what are you worshipping. Are you worshipping television superstars, are you worshipping your career. Are you worshipping sex. Are you worshipping education. Some of the things we worship are good things, things that we should desire, things that we should enjoy; but things that are never meant to be our God.
They worshipped him because they saw him for who he is. What does your worship look like. What does it indicate you believe about him. We sing not because how good we sound, not because of how great people on stage sing, not because we have the coolest or most comfortable auditorium. We worship because we have seen who has come. If you are not excited about worship rather than critiquing others we need to go back to if we are roused by who this child is.
The thing you worship is the thing that gets central importance in your life. It’s the thing you do not disappoint. The thing you do not say no to. The thing that you depend on for life, excitement, hope.
- The Child Causes Trouble
Not everyone is happy with the birth of the savior. Some are troubled. Troubled. to strike one's spirit with fear or dread, passive. If you heard and earthquake of 8.0 magnitude was on its way you would be troubled. The child’s magnitude concerns others.
King Herod is troubled. We will see more about him next week. We are introduced to him here. He was concerned with himself and his own glory. When you are seeking to establish your own rule and another ruler comes then you are troubled.
Herod seeks the child’s Glory. Herod's most famous and ambitious project was the expansion of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Herod's rebuilding of the Second Temple in Jerusalem was done so that he would "have a capital city worthy of his dignity and grandeur" and with this reconstruction Herod hoped to gain more support from the Jews.
He didn’t build a temple because of how great his God is. He built it to show his own glory. Later in this chapter we will see how Herod murders all children under the age of two to make sure no rival rulers survive.
Herod is troubled. All Jerusalem is troubled v3. Why would Jerusalem have the same trouble response that their monstrous king has. Irony. The city of God’s people, the same city that will contend against Jesus and his ministry is troubled. Jerusalem had turned from God and had not repented. Some of them are concerned with the coming ruler.
This is not the response of faith and following. And it is occuring in the very center of God’s people. Jesus threatens the structures of power. Jesus will confront religious leaders who only want the preservation of their own traditions and glory. Sometimes the greatest opposition to the kingdom comes from within God’s own people. It’s no surprise Herod is troubled, but Jerusalem itself as the same response. Something other than the glory of God has become a priority for the city of God.
Herod gives a pretense of faith, a pretense to worship, but it is all a ruse. He lies. "Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him." (Mat 2:8 ESV). An ethical life hinges on the worship of God. When we want our own praise we will do whatever it takes to serve our ends.
“There is nothing more important than appearing to be religious.”
― Niccolò Machiavelli
No judgement. Do whatever you believe.Use people. Use God.
“Herod was more interested in saving his throne that saving his soul.” Richard Glover (1956).
You are going to have moments and season in life where your devotion to God is challenged. Every day you have a decision to make of who are you going to serve, but there will be times and seasons that are more pronounced. For some, they would gladly remove God than the thing they most love. So they make sly excuses that hide their true intent.
It was impossible for Herod to receive the praise he wanted in life when this child was present. He couldn’t take it. He would not stand for it. And that is the same reason maybe do not serve Christ. They quit going on mission, quit giving, quit reaching out, because they want praise and don’t want to sacrifice anything to add to the renown of Jesus.
**True worship is always sacrificial. False worship is cheap and easy. True worship exalts Christ. False worship exalts ourselves.**
- Indifference of Others.
This is not specified in the text, but it is a logical conclusion. Some went to worship him, They gave their gold and precious things in order to show how precious this child was. Some were so troubled that they lied and sought to destroy the child.
But some did nothing. They took the middle way of not caring. Not getting into trouble. Not having to give up anything. They did not speak up for truth or seek to save a child. The detestable way of tepid service. They didn’t seek to know more, they didn’t resist, they didn’t press into the issue. They didn’t murder. But they also didn’t worship.
Perhaps of all these were the ones most ignorant. They did not even see how the child might threaten their lives. Herod got it. He saw the child as the threat that he was. Those who are indifferent had the worst view of all.
Cold Indifference: Neither loving him or hating him. Not being stirred in the least way. For those who hate him, they will consider your indifference a victory.
Many of those did nothing of the report. They didn’t go to persecute the child but they also did not go to worship the child.
There are three different reaction to who Jesus is here, but there is only one Jesus. He is the same. He is who God said he is and who he would be. What differs is people’s reaction to him.
Indifferent to him.
Where do you fit in? Are you unsure. Are you at least intrigued enough to learn more about who he is.