The Gift of Christ

The Gift of Christ

Matthew 2:1-18

How did these wise men know that the baby they sought would be the king of the Jews? In just a handful of verses we have everything that we know about these Magi. They were from the east. They were wise. They saw a star that let them know which direction to go. They came to Jerusalem, the capital city of Judea, looking for the new born king. They had told Herod when the star had appeared. They wanted to worship the newborn king. The star led them to where they found Jesus. They brought three gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh. They were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod. They obeyed the dream. That’s it. That’s about all we know of the Magi. One thing becomes clear:

God is much less interested in telling us about the Magi than He is in telling us about His Son.

This Jesus, born to be King of Israel, was announced by prophets of old, welcomed by angels of glory, and sought after by wise men from the east who followed His star. Around the world there was very little notice of what had transpired. Only a few saw the signs, only shepherds heard the angels. When the Magi came and brought the news to Herod the Great, it was received with a violent reaction against Jesus, aimed at destroying Him. Matthew is the only gospel to tell us this. History outside the scriptures has no record of it. The slaughter of those little children of Bethlehem and its region are only told by Matthew. But for Matthew’s gospel, history has somehow forgotten these little children. God did not forget them. The weeping of their mothers was known by God and spoken of in the prophets. What does God want us to know?

God wants us to know that when Jesus came into this world, He was not welcomed. When the son of David was born He was not given respect and honor by many, but by a very few.
John’s gospel puts it this way: He was in the world, and though the world was made by Him the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed on His name, He gave the right to become children of God. John 1:10-13a.

Isaiah 9:2,6-7

Here’s your take home. Two points and the lesson is yours:

As God’s children, we honor, follow after, and serve our King even when no one else agrees or understands us. We should not expect the world to welcome us. Did it welcome Jesus? We are not here as followers of a worldly hero. We are called out to stand up for a crucified King. Our children have a destiny. Jesus was born King of the Jews. Parents, your children were born for a purpose. Your job as parents is to raise them up to know and follow Jesus Christ as their Savior and King. This is a daunting task with many dangers. There are Herods about who will do whatever they can to take out their faith and destroy their King. But God supplies direction and protection for them. He is willing and able to lead us to safety and delivers us from evil. But we must follow His leadership. We must not stay in Bethlehem if God warns us to flee. Going to Egypt may seem like a hard option, but staying will be much worse. Imagine Joseph waking up from his dream to flee and not taking it seriously. Imagine the Magi not taking their dream seriously and returning to Herod to identify Jesus and His family. I find it interesting that God didn’t just kill Herod. Why let this monster stay loose? I don’t know all the answers, but I know the story. Joseph and the Magi listened to God and obeyed His instruction. We must be like them. Fathers and Mothers, let me encourage you as parents to make one thing your goal: do whatever possible to train up your children to follow Jesus Christ. Make it your aim to lead them to the King of kings and learn to fear, follow, love and obey Him. The word of God and prayer are your most valuable tools. Seek to be what you want them to become. Show your children by example what they should be and do. Then, even if they fail, you will have succeeded. That may not be what you want to hear, but it is true.

The gift of Christ is God’s most precious trust and treasure. God has given you and I the most astounding gift. If He had bestowed each of us with a kings treasures it would have been far less than this. Instead of a king’s treasures, God gave us a King. And not just any King, His only begotten Son. Our King, born into this world as a child, came here to purchase us and deliver us from slavery in sin. By receiving this King as our saving gift from God, and believing on His name, we are empowered to become children of God ourselves. As the Bible says: Children, born not of natural descent, nor a human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:13b. Because Jesus was born as one of us, son of Mary, son of David, as well as Son of God, we have a King from heaven who reigns over this earth as Lord. He is still not welcomed by the majority, but by those who seek His kingdom and righteousness, rather than seeking to establish their own. God has given His Son for these! God knows that most will not seek Him or serve Him. Most will reject Him, and refuse to bow to Him and receive His saving grace. God doesn’t drag anyone to glory. He invites us through the gift of Christ. Ultimately every knee WILL bow, and every tongue WILL confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, but that will be too late for those who do not accept His gift of Christ in obedient faith.

I was on a plane headed from Yugoslavia to Austria. It was 1991 and Romania had just executed their dictator, Nicolai Ceausescu. Jenny and I were considering a move to Sibu, Romania to work as missionaries there. On this plane I sat next to a Yugoslavian doctor who spoke English quite well. In conversation, he asked me what I do. Trying to be creative, I told him that I teach people how to live. He wanted to know more, so I drew him a chart as I gave him this message:

We humans are not just physical beings, but spiritual also. We are not here by accident but by an intentional plan. God, who created all things, created man in His own image and likeness. He gave man instructions on how to live and not die. There was but one thing that man was told not to do or else he would die. Do you know what happened? Man did the very thing God said he must not do. This is sin and it brought death into the world. Through the years man has either forgotten God or created other gods to his own liking. Nothing man has done has worked to bring life. Only God can set us free from sin and death and give us life, and He has. God did the most amazing thing. Since we could not come to Him, He came to us in His own Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is both God and man. He came to give us life, putting us back together with God. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Jesus, God’s eternal Son, became a man, born of woman, just as God had foretold. Jesus death on the cross was the price paid to save us from the wages our sin. Isaiah 53 shows how we strayed and he paid. Jesus’ death was not the end. Three days later God raised Him from the dead. Jesus ascended to the right hand of God to rule as our Lord and Savior. I believe this. Do you?

He looked over his spectacles, frowned at my chart and said: That sounds so arrogant. I do think that perhaps there may be some divine being who possibly created this universe, and put life within it. But it is so vast, and the earth is but a tiny speck in our own galaxy. Any god great enough to create all this surely couldn’t care anything about us. It is simply human arrogance to think God cares whether we bless him or curse him. I thought for a minute and prayed for a proper response. Then this came to me, so I said: You know, you are right! To think that the God who made all things could care about us is the greatest arrogance in the world! Unless, of course, it is true. In that case, would you not agree that it is the greatest gift and best news in the world, and to reject it would be the utmost folly?

God’s gift of Christ. It truly is either the greatest hoax or the best news in the universe. I am convinced of it’s truth. Jesus is a God sized gift. As Isaiah 9 says, “To us a Son is given.”