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Sermon 12/25/05 - Worship Him
Matthew 2:8

Friday  Study Ministries
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Worship Him

And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, ‘Go and make careful search for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, that I too may come and worship Him’” (Matthew 2:8)

Do you worship Christ the King? The word for “worship” in Matthew 2:8, is a form of the Greek “proskuneo,” which literally is “kiss towards,” carrying the meaning of respect and reverence. King Herod “the Great” was speaking to a group of “magi,” at the moment of our verse today in Matthew. They were a group of scholars from the “East,” which likely was Persia or the area of Babylon, in what is now Iraq. The wise men of Babylon and subsequently the Persians and Medes had been strongly influenced by Daniel, centuries before, a man who was God’s prophet and a somewhat reluctant, but very effective politician in the Court of King Nebuchadnezzar and his successors.

King Herod of Judea got as much information out of the “wise men” as he could, and “sent them to Bethlehem,” saying, “‘Go and make careful search for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, that I too may come and worship Him’” (Matthew 2:8). We know from historical accounts of Herod’s life that he was unlikely to worship anybody or anything other than himself, and his subsequent actions proved the historical records to be true. He was a clever man with leadership abilities, but he was also evil and misused the gifts that God had given him. Soon he would attempt to murder the very Child they were discussing (Matthew 2:16). His statement about “worship” was a lie.

There are those who complain about Christmas, telling us that the true date of the birth of Christ was likely in August or September; and that the beginnings of much the trappings and trimmings that we call “Christmas” are “pagan” in nature. Surprisingly, many such criticisms are true - but they who criticize miss the point.

As reported in a “USA Weekend” article of “December 16-18, 2005,” the true origins of a great deal of the trimmings of “Christmas” have nothing to do with our Savior, Jesus Christ. For instance, Christmas trees “appeared in Medieval Germany,” they say, indicating that such trees were from a “Feast of Adam and Eve,” featuring “an evergreen decorated with apples.” Actually, I think the custom of trees at Christmas is much older than the Middle Ages, stemming from before a time when Emperor Constantine’s Roman Legions would surround a Germanic town and offer the inhabitants an option: they could either surrender to Rome and convert to Christianity – or die! Obviously, most surrendered and converted, but they were not changed inside. They took the outward trappings of Christianity, but many did not worship the Christ; they simply added Christianity to the customs already in effect.

The article continued with information about “Sinterklaas,” Dutch for St. Nicholas, which is the origin of the name, Santa Claus. They say “Santa Claus” is based on the Norse “god” Odin, who purportedly rode through the winter skies on an eight-legged horse, bringing gifts to the needy. Mistletoe and wreaths were also mentioned in the article, concluding that most of what we call “Christmas” has nothing whatsoever to do with the Christ who is named in that special day. In much of the Western world, many urge that we stop saying “Merry Christmas,” substituting “Happy Holidays” in its place. “Merry Christmas,” it is said, offends those who do not believe in Christ. I’m sure it does.

There has always been a strong, supernatural attempt to usurp that which is of God and replace it with counterfeits. There are beings who operate through people like King Herod of long ago, and they want us to forget the Lord God, Maker of heaven and of earth, and be entertained by mere substitutes. Actually, Herod’s concern was that ANOTHER king might have been born, and that King would usurp his own power. Indeed He would. The whole POINT of Christ’s advent on this earth was that we would at last stop living merely for ourselves in our own strength and turn to the God who loves us. We are to be given His love, a contagious way of learning what’s important in life, enabling us to love Him in return for what He has done, and to finally love one another. Herod the “great” has been dead for centuries and it is certain that no good thing has come from or to him since that time. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8) and He is so close to you right now that a prayer will bring you into His presence and His love.

After the magi, the “wise men,” left Herod, “the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him…” (Matthew 2:9-11). King Herod, in an extremely local context, was an important man. People deferred to him and he liked it. The magi were also important within their own life situation. The difference was that Herod wanted no rivals, determining he would continue the illusion that he was supreme. The magi correctly saw they were only people and that whatever gifts they had in life were given to them by God. We need to see that truth also.

The wise men demonstrated their willingness to serve the living God, by what they did next. They “fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11). It’s time to be like them, recognizing that God has given us our bodies, our minds, parentage, our situation in life – ALL is from Him, and we should be drawn to worship and give in return.

That’s the real reason why gifts are given at Christmas: to honor the God who has given us everything, by giving in His Name to those who are in need. The “star” placed on the Christmas tree is a remembrance of the time when the wise men followed a star and came to see the Child who would be the Savior of the world. What that “star” was, we really do not know, but we should understand that the Lord is leading US as well. Just as surely as He led them to Christ, He is leading you and me to His Son right now.

I don’t know about your origins, but in my boyhood home, we did not pray very often. However, at Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving, my father prayed at the dinner table, thanking God for our food. Prayer has always been a great opportunity for good that has been given to us all. We should be grateful for any time we have the occasion to pray, and THANK the God who has given everything to you and me. Let’s pray:

Father, You have sent Your Son to be the Savior of this world. Thank You, Lord. Forgive me for not praying more often. I give up living for myself and worship You right now. I am Yours, Lord. Thank You that You are mine. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
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"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)

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