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,Matthew 2:1 (ESV)
- There were at least two wise men, perhaps more. It’s not known how many or what their names were.
- Wise men = magi = scholars / astronomers
- Herod was an Eodmite. Jewish by geography, but not really a Jew. He was put into power by Rome.
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.Matthew 2:11 (ESV)
- This visit did not happen in the stable at the manger when Jesus was born. It happened in “the house” which was likely a cave.
- Joseph not mentioned. It is likely that he was out working, or he’s simply not mentioned.
And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.Matthew 2:12 (ESV)
- This is the second dream in Matthew’s Gospel. In Luke’s Gospel, there’s a few more recorded. God is doing a lot of communicating during this season after 400 years of silence.
- God is present and making His plan happen.
When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.Hosea 11:1 (ESV)
Israel is Jacob and is the nation of God’s people called out of Egypt. Israel is more than just a location.
The purpose of the Exodus was to create a new nation of God’s people to be a model of God’s perfect kingdom on earth, but they failed. They rebelled. Then, Jesus came. Again, God calls his son out of Egypt. Jesus is the perfect model of God’s kingdom on earth. Jesus did all the things that Israel went through to do it right – even going into the wilderness. Where Israel failed in the wilderness, Jesus did it perfectly right.
Jesus is the light to the world. If we are not shining the light of Jesus into the world, we have failed. The world is going to be the world, but the church (God’s people) are called to be different. Our focus should not be on changing the world, but on our relationship with Christ so that we are changed. As we are changed, then the world is changed.
My notes from the sermon:
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.Isaiah 7:14 (ESV)
Immanuel = God with us.
To us, this is a sign of hope and salvation. To others, this is a sign of judgement & wrath.
Ahaz was a bad man and a bad king. He was seeking an alliance with Assyria – a much stronger nation, but God told him not to trust Assyria but to trust Him. God’s message was essentially be patient, follow the Lord, and be faithful and His commands. Trust the Lord.
The prediction of the child was pointing towards Jesus, but was an immediate prophecy marking the time “these things” would happen.
Jesus is the sign to us of God’s love. Our calling is to show to all people Jesus’ love through us as we are children of God.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him… Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.1 John 3:1, 18 (ESV)
Who “they” are does not change who we are. We are the sign for all people.
This brings to mind a scene in “the Chosen” (episode 4) where Jesus tells Simon to catch as many people as he can, all kinds, and that Jesus will sort them out later.
So faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works… You see that faith was active along with [Abraham’s] works, and faith was completed by his works,… For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.James 2:17-18, 22, 26
Living, good works grow out of our faith and love of Christ. If there’s no faith at the root of your works, they are spiritually dead. Works born of faith are more than just works, they are a witness to our faith in Christ; they are practice for our love of Christ; and they are teaching others how to walk in the faith.
How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.Hebrews 9:14