20101224-wise_men

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  • A few weeks ago, I said that that when it came to Father Christmas, there were 3 ages to manAge 1 … you believe in Father ChristmasAge 2 … you don’t believe in Father Christmas … andAge 3 … you become Father ChristmasWell, apparently I missed an age … because there is a 4th stage in this progression … and in the 4th Age of man … you look like father Christmas.No prizes for guessing where I am on that trajectory of development!This evening contains the 6th installment of our Christmas series.We’ve been taking the view that Christmas is not primarily a children's story that adults have play ‘let’s pretend’ about … like, say, Father Christmas.Rather that Christmas is a fully fledged adult story that you have to work with to make it accessible to children.The Birth of Jesus, according to the Bible, is a crucial step in God’s unfolding plan through the ages to rescue humanity from the mess we have generated for ourselves.Jesus Birth, Life, Death and Resurrection in those few short years of his earthly existence charts the culmination of God’s Redemptive purposes. It is what makes God’s rescue plan work … it is the pivot around which everything else turns.If you have questions about Christianity … then your focus needs to be on Jesus.
  • At the beginning of Jesus life on Earth there we’re two groups of people who are highlighted as visiting Jesus.Firstly we have the shepherds … and we’ll hear about them on a different occasion. They were people in poverty, towards the bottom of the pecking order, generally considered to be unclean as they worked and lived with animals.Jews certainly, but a completely surprising choice to be heralds of God’s coming kingdom.And then there were the Wise Men … or Magi. There were Gentiles, more than that, they were priests. They worshipped a single Creator God and were heavily influenced by Judaism.They studied the night sky and believed the Creator used the heavens as a form of communication … we might call them astrologers … and they were … Genesis 1:14-15And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so.So, around the birth of Jesus, there were poor Jewish Shepherds and rich, well educated Gentiles.I can’t tell you exactly what sort of ‘star’ they were following it may well have been an unusual planetary conjunction rather than a literal star. And worship here is a word meaning ‘honouring’ rather than worship due to God.
  • At the beginning of Jesus life on Earth there we’re two groups of people who are highlighted as visiting Jesus.Firstly we have the shepherds … and we’ll hear about them on a different occasion. They were people in poverty, towards the bottom of the pecking order, generally considered to be unclean as they worked and lived with animals.Jews certainly, but a completely surprising choice to be heralds of God’s coming kingdom.And then there were the Wise Men … or Magi. There were Gentiles, more than that, they were priests. They worshipped a single Creator God and were heavily influenced by Judaism.They studied the night sky and believed the Creator used the heavens as a form of communication … we might call them astrologers … and they were … though different perhaps to what astrology has developed into.So, around the birth of Jesus, there were poor Jewish Shepherds and rich, well educated Gentiles.I can’t tell you exactly what sort of ‘star’ they were following it may well have been an unusual planetary conjunction rather than a literal star. And worship here is a word meaning ‘honouring’ rather than worship due to God.
  • For Herod, who was beset with people looking for a Messiah, not to know where the Messiah was meant to be born almost seems unlikely … but not surprising that the religious hierarchy was pulled in.SHOW FILM CLIP HERE
  • Micah was a prophet who was active around 700BC
  • Herod is portrayed in the Bible as a man with evil intent. He is painted even darker in the histories of the Jewish writer Josephus.
  • By the time the Magi arrive, there is no mention of Shepherd’s and they find the family in a house. That’s because this event could be anything up to 2 years after the birth of Jesus.The Gifts are fit for a king and all sorts of suggestions as to their significance have been offered. But we can only speculate on the significance … practically speaking, these would have funded a family on the run cut off from all other family and support.
  • Mission Illustration. Contrasting with the shepherds, poor Jewish Shepherds vs. Magi ruling priestly caste. Jesus came for both.Prophetic Direction. Not only the passage in Micah, but Isaiah chapter 60Not only following a prophecy but apparently unwittingly part of one. Isaiah 60.
  • Isaiah 60 is a long prophetic passage that was considered to speak of the future glory of Jerusalem … but was considered by many in the early church to have been partially fulfilled by at the first appearing of Jesus and fully fulfilled by his ultimate second coming.The Magi dealt with prophecy, signs and wonders.
  • 3. Evil opposition. Herod was a butcher. It was a rare day that went by during the 36 years of his reign in Israel when at least one person was not killed.4. Gift impartation. Practically speaking the gifts given by the wise men made a huge difference … almost straight away.
  • He gave himselfto give us life.He gives His Spirit to help us live and to demonstrate God’s coming Kingdom He offers restoration be that healing of the body, emotions or mindHe seeks response often people give the sort of gift they would like to receive – God loved unconditionally … He looks for that sort of response from usThe start of this Christmas series was that all of human history fits into four acts:Creation Genesis 1-2Fall Genesis 3Redemption Genesis 3 - GospelsRestoration Gospel – Revelation and GloryMany of us here are clearly in the 4th Act … and it is not child's play out there.Throughout human history, God has been on mission … his purpose … to seek and save what was the lost and to restore His children to the place He created for themSo my question to you is this … are you on Mission ? … and if your answer to that is ‘No’ … what do you need to get you there … because God is a giver of Gifts … and this Christmas season may be a time to seek Him for what you need to move on. AMEN
  • 20101224-wise_men

    1. 1. Christmas Series:<br /> ‘Wise Men … Joyful & Worshiping’ – [Advent 6/8]<br />“Important Question” John 5:1-15SERIES: ‘JOHN’ [Part 3/7]<br />
    2. 2. Matthew 2: 1 - 2<br />After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”<br />
    3. 3. Genesis 1: 14 - 15<br />And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.<br />
    4. 4. Matthew 2: 3 - 5<br />When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: <br />
    5. 5. Matthew 2: 6<br />“ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’ ”<br />[Micah 5: 2, 4]<br />
    6. 6. Matthew 2: 7 - 8<br />Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”<br />
    7. 7. Matthew 2: 9 - 12<br />After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.<br />
    8. 8. Wise Men … Joyful & Worshiping<br />Mission illustration<br />Prophetic direction<br />
    9. 9. Isaiah 60<br />3 Nations will come to your light,    and kings to the brightness of your dawn.<br />6And all from Sheba will come,    bearing gold and incense    and proclaiming the praise of the LORD.<br />14 The children of your oppressors will come bowing before you;<br />
    10. 10. Wise Men … Joyful & Worshiping<br />Mission illustration<br />Prophetic direction<br />Evil opposition<br />Gift impartation<br />
    11. 11. A God of gifts<br />He gave Himself<br />He gives His Spirit<br />He offers restoration<br />He seeks response<br />
    12. 12. Acts 1: 6 - 8<br />Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” <br />He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” <br />

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