Monday, October 22, 2012

The Morning After: The King's Worshippers (Matthew 2:1-12)

As I continue my series through the first four chapters of the gospel of Matthew, I was forced to deal with one of the most speculated passages in this great book. What were wise men? How many were there? Where did they come from? What did they see when they looked into the sky? What was the purpose of the gifts that they brought? How did they know about the Jewish Messiah? How old was Jesus when the wise men came to worship Him? And the questions continue on and on. For many of them, we have no idea. 

We can speculate that while there were three gifts, there were probably more than three wise men. We can speculate that they were probably astronomers who were advisers to a king. We can speculate that it had been several months since Jesus' birth before they show up (the shepherds and wise men were not there at the same time). We can speculate that their trip would have taken a long time and was difficult traveling conditions. We can speculate on many things. But there is one thing that we know for certain. They came to worship the One who was born the King of the Jews. They traveled to worship King Baby Jesus!

While they are the main part of this story, there are many other characters in this story. This is more than a simple story, it is a window into how different people respond to the King of the Jews. As I studied it, I saw at least four different responses to Jesus.

Some People Respond to Jesus with Hatred
In this account, King Herod was very disturbed that someone was being called the King of the Jews. He held that position. In the next section of Scripture, we are going to see that his hatred for Jesus moved him to do some rather inhumane things.

The hatred of Jesus is not something that is exclusive to Herod. Many people hate him. They fear him. They are scared that if they are exposed to Him, they will be forced to deal with their lifestyle (John 3:20). Jesus stands against them, and they despise his morality in doing so. They do not want anyone to tell him what to do.

Some People Respond to Jesus with Selfishness
The people of Jerusalem feared Herod. They feared for what he might do. So, when a group of men come into town claiming they saw the star of the King of the Jews, they had a choice. They could either respond with the wise men and accept the wrath of Herod. Or they could cower in fear and shame. It seems like they responded to Jesus with what they thought was safest for them. They did not want to sacrifice and give up of their life for him.

Many people want to respond to Jesus with a half-hearted, watered-down version of themselves. They want to follow Jesus unless it costs them seriously. That is why Jesus uses such hard language as "hating your own life" and "hating your father and mother for my sake" (John 12:25; Luke 14:26-33).

Some People Respond to Jesus with Apathy
The religious leaders knew all the right answers. When Herod quizzed them to see where the Messiah was to be born, they nailed it. And it did nothing for them. When these foreign men showed up saying a sign had appeared that indicated that the Messiah had been born, the religious leaders apparently, did not even think it was worth the 5-mile trip to Bethlehem to see if these things were true.

Being around the things of God does not make you a worshipper of Him. Having the knowledge of the things of God does not make you a worshipper. Quoting Scripture, memorizing doctrine, and being able to answer Bible trivia questions does not necessarily make you a worshipper of God. The question is, has any of it made an impact on how you live your life?

Some People Respond to Jesus with Worship
These wise men came and believed in a little baby that did nothing to merit their worship. They worshipped Him for who He was, not what He did. Let me finish with this quote from J. C. Ryle. He summarized their faith perfectly:
"They saw no miracles to convince them. They heard no teaching to persuade them. They saw nothing but a new-born infant, helpless and weak, and needing a mother's care like any one of ourselves. And yet when they saw that infant, they believed that they saw the divine Saviour of the world! They fell down and worshipped him."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.