INTRODUCTION: MATTHEW 2:1–12
Background of Narrative –
Matthew’s Gospel paints the portrait of Jesus Christ as King! This is where Matthew puts the emphasis. It is where we should put the emphasis! Jesus is King. It stands out in this text. Jesus is born the King in Bethlehem.
And take notice that Jesus dies with these words over his cross, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” True, True, True: Jesus is King! But his kingdom is not of this world. His kingly rule is now in people’s hearts. Here he now rules as King and Savior.
Yet what do we see here in Matthew 2:1-12? It is not the Jews, but the Gentiles who worship the “King of the Jews.” Who are these Gentiles? These are the Magi who study the stars and wonders of the skies above us.
These Gentiles come from a foreign land, probably Babylon. They know about and respond to heaven’s truth. The King is born! Their words are: “We have come to worship him.” Now look at the Jewish people—the religious leaders in Jerusalem. How do they respond? What about other people like King Herod? How do they respond? What about you and me? How do we respond?
The fact is this: People must respond Christ the King in some way. No one, not one person, is the same after hearing the Gospel of Christ. He or she must make a response. The Gospel demands a decision. This is what this message is about.
The Sermon’s Focus –
This historical event about the birth of the King of Kings points out the three definite ways people react to Jesus Christ as King. You find them acting out their response in these Scripture verses. There are the Jewish leaders, King Herod, and the Gentiles.
You will see how these three kinds of response give us a picture of people today. Look now and consider these ways.
I. THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO IGNORE CHRIST THE KING LIKE JEWISH LEADERS
Matt. 2:4-6: “When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. ‘In Bethlehem in Judea,’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet has written: “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 be the shepherd of my people Israel.’ ”
A. Narrative of these Leaders in Jerusalem
Here on the Jerusalem scene are people who totally ignore Christ the King. Who are these people who turn their backs on truth? These are the Jews: their chief priests and teachers of the law. They know about their true King. Every Jew knew! Why? He is promised in the Old Testament!
Micah, the prophet, speaks about him. He tells where the true King of glory is to be born. Micah points to Bethlehem, not far from Jerusalem. Bethlehem is written down 700 years before Christ is born. Amazing, but it is true. And these Jewish leaders know this fact. They are not ignorant, but you will see them ignoring Christ the King.
Look at these leaders reading Micah’s prophecy:
“But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah . . . out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.” Now these Gentile Magi knew where to go. Not Jerusalem, but Bethlehem is the place.
Notice also Micah records in this prophecy another great fact. He says, this divine ruler and King will shepherd my people Israel.” We cannot lay aside this shepherd-kind of person. A shepherd is willing to die for His people like a shepherd would die to save his sheep’s lives. This is the reason for the birth of King Jesus. He died to save all people from their sins.
And the Bible says, “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned each one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). This is why Jesus died on the cross. Our sins deserve death, and Jesus Christ paid the penalty of our sins. He took our punishment and satisfied God’s justice. He came to be our Savior. This was the supreme reason for His birth in Bethlehem.
B. Why Do These Leaders Ignore King Jesus?
“What is their big concern?” is the question. These Jewish leaders want to keep themselves safe from King Herod’s anger. King Herod has already murdered others who he thought might try to sit on his throne. Now another king is born. He is King Jesus. What can these leaders do? They want to fit in with this world’s organization. They want to follow its ungodly pressures. Turn away wicked King Herod’s anger and ignore their promised Messiah and King. This is what happens in Jerusalem. It is sad.
Here these Jewish leaders stand and turn away from the door of heaven’s opportunity. They close their eyes to their promised and long-awaited King. He is the King who will lay down his life to save their souls from their sins. But they choose to ignore King Jesus.
C. Application: Many people follow in the footsteps of these who ignore the King
They, too, turn away from the message. Either sin rules in a person’s life or Jesus Christ rules in victory over sin. Look at it this way. People ignore the truth that they are spiritual as well as physical beings. They ignore the Bible, the church which preaches salvation in Jesus Christ and they really ignore their own souls. “Tell us something else,” they say, “but don’t get serious about spiritual matters.”
When should we get serious? If a person is stricken with cancer, should that person be serious? Yet worse than cancer is the fact that people without Jesus Christ are dead in their sins. The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). It declares, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” and that there is “none righteous, no not one.” These facts cannot be ignored. They meet everyone at the end of life’s road.
So please don’t ignore Jesus Christ who died for our sins. He paid our penalty, and is the true King of spiritual life who rules in love. The Bible says, “How shall we escape if we ignore so great salvation?” (Heb. 2:3).
II. THERE ARE PEOPLE LIKE HEROD WHO ACTUALLY OPPOSE CHRIST THE KING
Matt. 2:3, 13. “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 in the east and have come to worship him.’ When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.” Herod is known as a wicked king, and wants to kill Jesus. Here is the rest of the story.
After the Magi find King Jesus and worship Him, we read in Matthew 2:13: “Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.’ ”
A. Why King Herod Opposes Jesus Christ 2:-3, 13:
Jesus Christ seems to be a threat to Herod’s style of living. Herod loves political power. He has used Roman military force to crush any opposition against his rule. Herod was a proud person. He is known as a wicked king. History records this fact: Herod has already had one of his wives killed and also two sons. Herod in his sin-darkened mind thought these people became a threat to his power.
So now when King Herod hears about another King, he is greatly disturbed. King Jesus is a threat to Herod’s power and the way Herod lives. So opposition fills Herod’s heart. He is against King Jesus.
And the people of Jerusalem are disturbed. They fear the violent steps of Herod. What would happen if any accepts Jesus as their true King? What would happen if the King of the Jews led a rebellion against Herod someday?
But we all know that Jesus never had an army. Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world. It is His kingly rule in the hearts of people! Don’t forget this fact. Jesus’ kingdom brings spiritual blessings, not physical harm and hurt like people who love their sinful way of living.
Here is what Napoleon said: “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself have founded great empires. .. . But Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love, and to this very day millions would die for Him. Jesus Christ is more than a man.” More than a man—Jesus surely is! But rulers like Napoleon and others use war and harm to conquer people. King Herod stands like these rulers.
So the question now is: Was King Jesus really a threat to King Herod? Yes and no. Yes, if Herod persisted in his sinful living and opposed Jesus who would someday be Herod’s Judge. No, if Herod threw away his pride and selfish ambitions, and wouldn’t feel that Jesus interferes with his sinful life. But the facts of history show that Herod opposed Jesus.
People still exist who oppose Jesus Christ as King of their lives. Some people, like Herod, say Jesus interferes with their sinful life style. These people resist the love of Jesus and His claims upon their lives. They say in their hearts that they want to be Master of their own lives. They want to walk in the ways of adultery, lying, and other moral corruption.
Yet the truth is that every person serves just one master or king. Do we understand this?
Jesus says “everyone who sins is a slave of sin” (John 8:34). This tells us that a sinner is not the king of his own life, but sin is his master. He is a slave of sin. Sin controls his life. So the sinner is not really free as his own master. What a shame to be a slave of sin.
But those who serve King Jesus are slaves of love and righteousness. Jesus’ rule in their lives gives them moral freedom over sin’s awful power. He whom the Son sets free is free indeed (John 8:36).
A person’s true self is found only in serving Jesus Christ the King. This truly fulfills our lives because we were created in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26-27). We rejoice in King Jesus.
Now we move to the climax of the Magi’s visit to Bethlehem and King Jesus. What is it?
Here it is. You see it in the Magi’s worship of Jesus. They bow before the King and worship. So here is the third category of how people react to Jesus the King. Let us write it down in our minds.
III. THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE WHO LIKE THE MAGI WORSHIP CHRIST THE KING
Matt. 2:9-11. Here is what the Bible says about the Magi: “After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east 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 and of incense and of myrrh.
A. Narrative of the Magi: The Magi’s long journey is nearly over.
The Magi are now leaving Jerusalem. They take the road to Bethlehem. Their trip is only two hours. Night has fallen as their camel caravan moves forward.
Suddenly the star they had seen in the east appears again. It is blazing in the heavens. The Magi, greatly rejoicing, follow this star. Suddenly the star stops in the sky. The star stands still over the place where King Jesus is! These men who sought the true King now find Him.
Take a picture snapshot of these Magi. The star in the eastern heavens had started them on their long journey. They seek to worship the King that God points out to them. God would not lead these men to merely an earthly king. They had sought and they have found the King of Kings!
B. The Great Climax is Worship: the Magi fall down and worship King Jesus!
Worship King Jesus—this is the climax of their long journey. Don’t forget these Magi were mighty and wealthy men. They might have been in the presence of the King of Babylon. They are of high rank in society. But here they are kneeling in the little village of Bethlehem. But they regard this place as better than any king’s palace. They bow to this child as the most glorious King of Kings. It is not the poor circumstances. No, it is the divine Person who impacts their lives!
Here they bow down and worship Jesus.
It is the greatest moment of their lives. Someday the Bible says that every knee shall bow (Phil. 2:10), and this includes those who ignore and oppose Jesus. These men bow down in reverence and true worship to King Jesus. They did not bring their gifts to King Herod, but they brought them to King Jesus. The gold, the incense, the myrrh are expensive gifts—gifts that are appropriate for a King. And the great climax of this whole scene is these men kneeling down to worship. They kneel and lay their gifts before King Jesus. The scene is awesome! Earth’s almighty King is here.
Worshipping King Jesus, the Magi are worshipping the King of Kings! Jesus is the King of Kings! The Bible declares it. This world will know it when Jesus comes again. He comes this time, not to be revealed only to the Bethlehem shepherds and these Magi, but to the whole world. The King of Kings will end this world’s history in total victory.
Jesus will defeat the power of the Antichrist—this world’s last political ruler.
And Jesus will judge and rule over all nations! Listen to these words in Revelation 19:11-16: I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. . . He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter.’ . . . On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Here we look again at the third category of reactions to Jesus the King. It is those who worship him. What does this worship personally mean to each one of us?
We can only worship Jesus as King if we have a personal relationship with Him. We accept His rule in our lives, and follow Him. Then the Bible says a person becomes a “new creation” in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17). We are spiritually alive. Then and only then, we worship Jesus in our praise and in our prayers. We understand Jesus is the Son of the living God and the King of Kings.
Sermon’s Aim: So how do we react to Jesus the King of Kings? Let us worship Him as our personal King. Let us bow down in our hearts to worship this King who loves us laying down His life to save us.
Direct Appeal: None of us would be wise to ignore King Jesus. He is King, and no one will change that fact. He is the King of Kings, and He alone is worthy of our worship. To think that He would accept us and our worship should amaze us.
Who are we but creatures of dust! None of us would be wise to oppose King Jesus like Herod did. Jesus wins all battles as the King over all kings. So accept Jesus as your own personal King and ruler of your life. He will accept you, and you will be on the winning side of life!