Matthew 2:1-2, 8, 11-12
This sermon is being presented as part of a service of word and music in a format that I lovingly refer to as a rolling homily
Anthem: Lo! How a Rose E'er Blooming
January 6th is the day that Christians celebrate Epiphany.
And since we didn't have a service on January 6th, we observe Epiphany on the Sunday on either side of that date, as we are today.
Epiphany commemorates the revealing of the Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ, to the Gentiles, who are represented in the persons of the Magi.
Some 700 years earlier, Isaiah foretold of Jesus' coming (Isaiah 11:1-2). He said:
1. Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,
And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.
This is the Rose the choir sang about: a Rose that is ever blooming, a Rose that continues to bloom.
Isaiah continues, telling us of some of the qualities of this fruit:
2. And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
Thus, if we are one with the Lord, these qualities should be in us, too.
And just as we recognize the natural beauty and fragrance of a rose, so should we have a natural recognition of Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and His presence in other believers.
Our hearts and souls should sing.
Hymn: 112 - Jesus, Name Above All Names.
In early 1981, I came to recognize Jesus in this way (a spiritual rebirth); and as I read Isaiah, I too, said, "Here I am, Lord!"
And in that same year Dan Schutte wrote the hymn by that name.
Do you remember the words of the refrain?
Here I am Lord.
Is it I, Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go, Lord,
If you lead me.
I will hold Your people in my heart.
I want you to think about these words, and picture yourselves in the area of Babylon with the Magi.
These men were astrologers and pagans; they did not believe in God, as did the Jews, or at least as the Jews were supposed to believe.
But God did call to them in the night, in the presence of the star, and revealed to them the meaning of this sight.
And when God called to them, they, too, must have become believers, and answered and asked, "Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?"
And God led them to Jerusalem.
They came seeking the King of the Jews, that they might worship Him (Matthew 2:1-2).
They came holding the people of God in their hearts.
They came to worship His majesty.
Hymn: 74 - Majesty
Listen to what Isaiah spoke of in 60:1-6:
1. "Arise, shine; for your light has come,
And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
2. "For behold, darkness will cover the earth,
And deep darkness the peoples;
But the Lord will rise upon you,
And His glory will appear upon you.
3. "And nations will come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.
The light has shown both in Israel and around the world.
And those who heard the Lord calling in the night saw the light shining.
But not everyone is listening or seeing, even in the lands of the believers, even where we are at this very moment.
That's why Isaiah says:
4. Lift up your eyes round about, and see;
They all gather together, they come to you.
Your sons will come from afar,
And your daughters will be carried in the arms.
5. "Then you will see and be radiant,
And your heart will thrill and rejoice;
Because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you,
The wealth of the nations will come to you.
6. "A multitude of camels will cover you,
The young camels of Midian and Ephah;
All those from Sheba will come;
They will bring gold and frankincense,
And will bear good news of the praises of the Lord.
The Lord is going to gather believers from every part of the earth.
And this is exactly what happened with the Magi, and they also brought gifts of gold and frankincense (Matthew 2:11).
They didn't fully understand what the Lord really wanted from them, but what they gave was accepted in the love in which it was given.
Listen carefully to the words of the following hymn:
Hymn: 165 - Adoration
The gold the Lord desires of us is our obedience.
The incense is our humbleness in coming before the Lord.
Do you remember in our preparation verses (Isaiah 11:1-2), Isaiahís telling us that one of the Christ-like characteristics is the wisdom of God that is seen in that person?
This is a measure of true wealth.
It's not precious metals or costly jewels and incense.
Itís just as we're told in Proverbs 3:13-15:
13. How blessed is the man who finds wisdom,
And the man who gains understanding.
14. For its profit is better than the profit of silver,
And its gain than fine gold.
16. She is more precious than jewels;
And nothing you desire compares with her.
It is this wisdom that opened the hearts of the Magi to hear the Lord calling them in the night.
In this wisdom they responded.
And in this wisdom, they realized that Jesus was more worthy than they were.
Hymn: 73 - Thou Art Worthy
The Magi, who weren't Jews, were more obedient to God than Herod, the ruler of Israel.
Herod commanded the Magi to find Jesus and report back to him (Matthew 2:8).
But the Magi once again heard the Lord calling in the night, and He told them not to return to Herod, but leave by another way, which they did (Matthew 2:12).
Herod wanted to kill Jesus; the Magi wanted to worship Him and be in His presence.
Hymn: 102 - There's Something About That Name
Can you smell the fragrance of the Lord?
It's there, just as certainly as the other signs of His presence.
We just need to be open to smell the fragrance, as we need to be open to hear the calling of the Lord.
The Magi put Jesus before themselves.
They put Him before the kings of the earth.
The Magi came with love in their hearts, seeking salvation; for they saw themselves as they really were before a holy, righteous, and loving God.
And they wanted to return that love, just as we should desire to do.
Hymn: 80 - I Love You, Lord
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