Passage: Matthew 2:1-12
Speaker: Steve Hands
Series: Advent – Our Hearts, Christ’s Home
At Home In Our Journey
We are all on a journey…the only question is where. This passage opens up with wise men from the east journeying to find the one who was born king of the jews (Matt 1:2). We have three responses to the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. The religious leaders have knowledge without true understanding; they know where about Jesus but do not journey to worship Jesus. Herod seeks to protect his power and looks to destroy any who threaten his power. Yet the wise men are on a journey of worship, filled with joy, generosity, and protected on that journey. Similarly we are on a journey, and we must move past empty knowledge and protective power to seek the king born in Bethlehem.
First we must move past empty knowledge (Matt 2:3–5). When Herod heard from a king was born, he inquires of the chief priests and scribes where this Christ was to be born. One of the marks of empty knowledge is constant conflict; the chief priests (Sadducees) and scribes (Pharisees) were so known for their division that some scholars dismiss Matt 2:4 as impossible. Yet the chief priests and scribes together respond to Herod’s question, and they have knowledge. They knew that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. They knew that the birth of the Messiah would put Bethlehem on the map! But their knowledge is empty because they do not do anything with that knowledge. While the wise men journeyed long distances to worship the Messiah even thought they lacked revelation about Him, these religious leaders do nothing with the revelation that they had received. Similarly unless revelation and knowledge provokes action and worship, it is empty knowledge.
We must not only move past empty knowledge but also protective power (Matt 2:7–8). Unlike the religious leaders who had knowledge but failed to act, Herod acted but acted not in worship but in self-protection. He deceitfully asks the wise men to find the child Jesus and tell him, “that I too may come and worship him” (2:8). Yet Herod’s true intent was to destroy this child (2:13); Herod was notorious for his vicious use of power to destroy any threats to that power. Similarly we should beware of temptations toward self-protection; we easily move away from a vulnerable journey to worship to a spirit of self-protection.
Yet we must move past empty knowledge and protective power to seek the king born in Bethlehem (Matt 2:9–12). Journeys are always vulnerable; we leave the comforts of the places that we know to go to an unknown place. Yet the journey of worship is always vulnerable. The posture of worship is kneeling in weakness and vulnerability not standing in strength and confidence. Yet as we step out of our comfort zone to worship the King, the reward of the journey is great joy; when the wise men discovered, “they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” (2:10). And this joy explodes in generous giving of gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh (2:11), and they are protected on their journey back as well (2:12).
So what? That Christmas tagline is true: “wise men still seek him.” As a pastor, I confess that it feels challenging to preach the same stories over and over. I’m tempted to try freshen up the old stories with zestful insight, as if I’m trying to get my family to eat leftovers again. Yet this Advent I sense the Lord beckoning me to seek him afresh, to seek him anew. My journey is not done, and that journey often leads me to unexpected places. And I pray that he might lead you in that way as well.