Summary: The question was asked at Jesus' birth, Where is the King of the Jews, and it was answered by the sign on the Cross, Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews
This morning I want to tell you a story of four kings. And I know that you think I’ve lost it, that the account belongs in the Christmas story, not the Easter story, and it’s three kings, not four.
Well, even that isn’t completely true. Even though the story of the three kings comes alive each year in Christmas carols and on Christmas cards, it’s founded more in tradition than in the biblical account.
That story is found in the second chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, and we are told that wise men from eastern lands sought out the newborn Christ child in Bethlehem. Part of the story tells us that they brought gifts, and the gifts are even described for us.
These visitors brought three gifts, which has led to the traditional number of three visitors. After all, who would show up to visit a newborn and not bring a gift? I mean other than me.
But maybe some of them went in together on the gifts. After all, they were pretty pricey gifts. But all we are doing is guessing and speculating.
And while the story this morning isn’t about the Magi and the Christmas story, that’s where we are going to begin.
Let’s pick the story up in Matthew 2:1–2 Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”
Let’s start with the fact that Jesus was A King Who Was Worshipped.
We don’t know a lot about the magi. But from these two verses, we know that they came from the east. I often tell folks from the rest of Canada that the biblical precedent is for wise men to come from the east. And most scholars feel that this means that the magi began their journey in Persia.
And we know that they followed a star. And we know that they only had one purpose for their journey: to worship the newborn king of the Jews.
Today, if we talk about worship, we think of what happens on Sunday morning, and all that entails. The music, the sermon, the offering, the announcements.
But listen to the account of what happened when the Magi found Jesus, Matthew 2:9–11 After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
They were filled with joy. This wasn’t something they were forced to do; it was something they did with a happy heart.
Then we are told they bowed down and worshipped him. But more than simply bowing down, this was an acknowledgement that the child was worthy of their worship. There was a physical element to their worship, an intentionality about what they were doing. Not only did they say they were going to worship Jesus, but they also demonstrated it by bowing down to Jesus.
The Collins English Dictionary defines worship as wor·ship (wûr sh p) n.
1. Reverence or devotion to a deity 2. Intense love or admiration
To be honest, there are times that I am in a worship service, but I’m not worshipping. My body is there, but my mind is somewhere else. Sometimes if it’s on a Sunday morning, I end up thinking about my message. Or analyzing what is happening in the service.
Is the music too loud or not loud enough? Is the room too warm or not warm enough? Do I need to close the doors to the lobby? Maybe I see someone come in, and they can’t find a seat, and I wonder if I should get up and show them where there is one available? Or I’m wondering why someone just got up and left partway through the service.
And those probably aren’t things that you think about on Sunday morning. Maybe things didn’t go smoothly getting the family here. Or there are problems at work. Or you are wondering how you will pay the bill that’s due tomorrow. Or you are wondering what the funny sound was that your car was making as you were driving to church.
Or maybe you think the music is too loud, or not loud enough, or the room is too warm or not warm enough.
Regardless, instead of entering into worship, you slip out of worship.