SERMON 1-03-2021

Scriptures, Matthew 2: 1-12, 1 Peter 2: 9-12


      2021 has arrived, The year of our Lord, may be the year of the return of our Lord Jesus Christ, who knows after last year?  We are here today, coming together to worship and dedicate this house, this work, and this body, each one of us in here and at home, to the service and mission of Jesus Christ our Lord.  For decades now the Church in American has had the privilege of pretty much doing her own thing, and what we have now in so many corners of our faith is a watered-down cheap grace gospel that requires no sacrifice, no work ethic, no fortitude, no risks, where the disciplines of our faith no longer abide in our hearts, just pretty churches with pretty people singing pretty songs pretty much on every block in our city. Now when our faith is challenged by a hyper secularized culture, with an antipathy to our faith and all that it stands for, we stand on the precipice of change. 

      Enter the World of the Magi, here the Romans, Greeks, and others despised  Yahweh the God of Israel, where this culture of boundaries and disciplines was seen as bizarre and contrary to the values of the hedonistic worship of the many pantheons of gods that valued vise and not  virtue, indulgence and not discipline, very much like today where selfish pursuits of gratification are regarded as rights, and where deprivation of any kind is seen in a negative light or even as abusive. Whatever happened to “NO PAIN NO GAIN?’  Today it’s more like “forget the pain just give me the trophy so I can feel better about myself.” The slow creep of pagan secularism was in full swing in Israel by the time our Magi came on the scene.  There is something to learn here from the biblical account of the Magi that can impact the way we see ourselves in our rapidly changing world.

     I kinda gave away the direction we are heading by reading the Magi text along with our text in 1 Peter, but I want us to see three primary things that the Magi do that we can do too, and in fact MUST do if we expect to live a life of transformation by the power of the Holy Spirit given to us by King Jesus.

    Just a couple of historical points before we begin: there were almost certainly more than three Magi, because the ride was long and difficult, most likely coming from the land of Babylon (exile).  These guys were not kings by our understanding of the word, probably wise dudes, probably astrologers and magicians of sorts. While I’d love to spend our time delving into this topic it will have to wait except for one point that comes to us from the book of Daniel in Chapter 2:48.  600 years before Jesus comes on the scene Daniel is given a vision of the future to reveal to King Nebuchadnezzar and is put in charge of the Magi for decades and decades. Daniel survives the overthrow of Babylon and continues to serve the Medes, the Persians, and may have still been around as Israel’s time of exile comes to an end.  He wasn’t just a Magi, he was the big cheese Magi who wrote lots of stuff and taught many, many Magi, what did he teach them?  Some of those libraries are still in existence today on tablets that are quickly being destroyed or lost by Muslim extremists But from our text, in Matthew, they knew about the prophecy of Daniel that a messiah would come from Judah and a king would be born. 

     This leads us to the first thing we can emulate regarding these magi, and that is that they were dedicated to knowing and understanding the revelation of Yahweh the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, they searched for themselves, searched and discerned the Word that was given to Daniel, and preserved in the East that a king would be born in Judah that would redeem the world.  We too have “ANCIENT WORDS EVER TRUE, CHANGING ME, CHANGING YOU.”  We are a Holy Priesthood! Aren’t we? Are we dedicated to these Ancient Words, do we believe them? Do we allow them to change us and the way we live our lives?

     Do we see ourselves as Holy ambassadors of Jesus Christ? Do we raise the bar and discipline our lives in a way that points to Jesus Christ?   He makes us clean, He guides us through the text of Scripture. He has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light NOT for kicks and giggles or because he wants us to feel good or to help our self-esteem, but to give us the divine purpose of the priesthood which is to proclaim the Excellencies of Jesus Christ.  This is a new year, a new beginning, a new opportunity to be clothed in His righteousness, let’s sit up straight, pull our shoulders back, stand tall on the Ancient Words of our Bibles, and take on 2021 as ambassadors of King Jesus. Let’s live like the Magi as foreigners in a pagan land called out to proclaim that the king is alive and here among us. (read 1 Peter 2:11-12) Let’s live as if that were true because it is, the question is whether or not He is alive in Me, Is He alive in You?  Would you like Him to be?

     So we have lessons from the Magi that to get into the presence of the King we must be dedicated to those ancient Words, we Must see ourselves as ambassadors of the King as Holy Priesthood set apart and disciplined to live a transformed life and then finally we must be willing to take the long hard and uncertain road that leads to King Jesus?  It is our faith that leads us and our fellowship with each other that God uses to strengthen and protect each other.  These guys did not travel alone in fact this entourage was probably over 100 or more people with camels and beasts of burden, more like a traveling troupe than three dudes on camels; there is strength in numbers, and we who claim Jesus Christ as Lord are called to stick together and to Love one another.  We do this by protecting each other in lots of different ways, but for today we study the word like the Magi, we see ourselves as ambassadors of the King, on a journey to stand in His presence and willing to take the hard road to get there and finally when we arrive in His presence we bring gifts.  Each of us is born with different gifts just like the different gifts of the Magi.   We are called to take what the Lord has blessed us with, whether it is money, time, talents, or spiritual, all gifts are given by God. When we are called into His presence We are there to worship with our lives and then present our gift to the service of the king.  The Magi lived unique and disciplined lives, they stood out in a crowd, so yes, There are parts of the Magi life we can emulate?

     So as we dedicate the year 2021 to our Lord by celebrating His Communion table,  let’s take a lesson from the Magi and spend time studying the Ancient Words of our Bibles. Let’s not be afraid of the unknown that lies ahead, knowing that at the end of our journey we will meet King Jesus and bow before him.  Wherever the Word tells us to go we go, whatever it tells us to do, we do to the best of our abilities doing everything as ambassadors of the king presenting our lives and the gifts we have been given to the service of our Lord and King. Come let us gather to affirm our covenant with King Jesus today.  Let’s Pray