Week 2

Sometimes, it’s difficult to enjoy Christmas when we’re too busy to stop and savor the holiday. For most of us, it feels like the Christmas season gets shorter and shorter each year.  This sermon series takes you back to the foundation of the Christmas story, revealing the joy and celebration it brings to all those who place their faith in Christ.  Christmas changes everything.  God has come to us in the form of Jesus!  He is literally “God with us.”

Read the Sermon Summary below

Sign, Sealed, and Delivered

The kind of gift that keeps on giving

“The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become.” C.S. Lewis

I believe that there are aspects about Christmas that we all love and hate. Personally, I love to give gifts, and because I do, it drives me crazy when it comes to those in my life who are difficult to shop for.  We all have those kinds of people.  If not, then you might be one.  If people can be this difficult to shop for, could you imagine trying to buy something for someone who is rich and famous?  What do you get someone who apparently has everything?  Regardless of who is on your shopping list, I guarantee you that the anxiety was nothing compared to what the Wise Men must’ve felt when it came to presenting gifts to not just anyone, but to the Promised Messiah and King!

The inclusion of the story of the Wise Men cannot be overlooked, even despite some misconceptions.  The Bible never mentions the number of Wise Men who traveled to see Jesus.  All we know is that they brought three kinds of gifts and they did so because they believed that Jesus was the long awaited fulfillment of ancient Jewish prophecies concerning the Messiah.  It could be possible that Daniel, during the nation of Israel’s time in Babylon/Persia, could’ve exposed many to the ancient writings of Moses and the prophets.  Whatever the case, these men, though rich in the world’s eyes, recognized their spiritual poverty and crossed deserts to meet Jesus.

Many believed that the star that they followed was a supernatural occurrence more that it was an alinement of stars and planets in the sky.  This idea comes from how the star seemed to move and guide the travelers until it rested above where Jesus was in Bethlehem.  By this time, the shepherds had been long gone and the humble stable and feeding trough that once held the new born Jesus was replaced with a house and an almost two year old Jesus.  I know that this might mess up your nativity set up in your front yard but it’s the truth.

We don’t know what prompted the Wise Men to bring the following gifts but I believe that they were influenced by the Holy Spirit because of the significance of each.

Gold was a great gift that no one in their right mind would reject.  It must’ve came in handy and probably provided the means for Joseph, Mary, and Jesus to escape from King Herod’s executioners and travel to Egypt until it was safe to return.  Gold in the Bible, and culturally, represented divinity and and kingship.  What a fitting gift for the King of Kings (1 Timothy 6:15).

Frankincense was unique because of it’s significance in Jewish history and worship.  It would be mixed with oil to anoint the priests of Israel.  It was also used during temple worship as an offering of thanksgiving and praise.  This was a great gift for the High Priest of the Lord, who stands before God and intercedes on our behalf of us (Hebrews 4:14-5:10).

The last gift is too perfect to be an accident or a re-gift by the wise men.  Myrrh was a spice that was used a lot as an embalming liquid for the dead.  It’s hard not to notice the significance.  The Wise Men apparently did their homework on who this future king would be, one of those being how the Messiah would have to suffer and die for the sins of the world (Isaiah 53, Psalms 16:8-11).

Again, we don’t know how much of this was thought out or a product of the Holy Spirit’s impressions on their hearts, but one thing we do know about the Wise Men and their gifts is that they were more than happy to give!

10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced EXCEEDINGLY with GREAT JOY. 11 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 (ESV)

They gave joyfully because of who Jesus was.  He wasn’t like the gods that they probably grew up associating with in their homeland.  This was a good God who had come down to redeem the world, not just the Jews.  This God offered hope unlike any other.  The presence of the shepherds and Wise Men who welcomed Jesus into the world shows us that He is the King for all people.  The rich and poor.  The mighty and the weak.  The Jew and the Gentile.  And finally for those who are near and those who are far off.  GOD WITH US means that no matter who you are or where you are, God is never far!

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.”  Isaiah 9:2 (ESV)

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”  Ephesians 2:13

This news should produce the same exceeding joy that both shepherds and Wise Men expressed after their encounter with Jesus.  This affection should inspire a specific action.  You too can and must give Jesus a gift.  Don’t worry.  He is easy to shop for.  You can thank the Wise Men for the ideas.  What Christ wants most is you.  First begin by believing that Jesus is the perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of your sins and that He died on the cross for you (Myrrh).  Then be thankful that Jesus is your righteousness and that you are now found in Him, as He covers your sins and transforms you into His likeness (Frankincense).  And finally, recognize the limitless value of Christ and the precious position of being a son and daughter of the King (Gold)!

When you give yourself as a gift to God in this way, you end of getting back more in return compared to the measure of your gift (Matthew 16:25).  When you give yourself to God, He gives Himself to you completely!   He is more than enough.  Knowing that I am never without because He is now with me gives me a hope that I can’t buy anywhere in this world.  We only learn to experience and appreciate this gift the more we give of ourselves to Him.  The understanding of God being with us must be followed by the action of us with Him.  And thanks to Jesus, we don’t have to go far to do so.  He is right here.  Waiting for us.