RESPONDING TO JESUS
1. On that glorious day some 2000 years ago when Jesus Christ was born in a small town five miles south of Jerusalem known as Bethlehem, a star in the sky marked his divine birth into this world. And it was from that bright star that paved the way for a group of men known as the Magi (wise men) to find the child that was born king of the Jews.
2. Who were these devoted men known as the Magi? Well, not much is known about them. We don’t know where they came from or how many there were. Tradition says they were men of high position from Parthia, near the site of ancient Babylon. Some say they were men devoted to astrology, and the interpretation of dreams. But even though we do not know a lot about them, we can learn a lot from them.
(Mt. 2:9-11) “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 worshipped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.”
THIS MORNING, I WOULD LIKE FOR US TO NOTICE THE THREE WAYS THAT THE MAGI RESPONDED TO JESUS WHICH IN TURN WILL TEACH US HOW WE SHOULD RESPOND TO HIM AS WELL.
I. FIRST, THE MAGI RESPONDED TO JESUS BY SEEKING AFTER HIM (VS. 9).
1. Some scholars believe that the Magi, after seeing the star in the east, traveled thousands of miles through rough and dangerous areas to find the child who was born king of the Jews. These men not only knew mentally that Jesus was the savior, but they made the effort to find Him and worship Him. They sought Jesus out.
2. How many people today know that Jesus Christ is the savior but yet they do not take the time or effort to seek after Him? Too often people expect Jesus to come looking for them, to explain Himself, and prove who He is. People expect Jesus to provide them with a miracle or some sign that He exists before they will seek after Him and give their lives to Him.
3. However, the problem with this strategy is that Jesus doesn’t operate like that. He wants people to seek after Him and if they do, He will begin to have fellowship with them.
To the church in Laodicia, Jesus said, (Rev. 3:20) “Here I am. I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”
4. This passage was not only an invitation to the church of Laodicia, but it is the great invitation that Jesus’ has sent forth to each and every individual today. Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart and He wants you to let Him in. He wants you to seek after Him so that He can have fellowship with you and begin his life-changing presence within you.
5. If you are not a Christian, what is holding you back from seeking the Lord and giving your life to Him?
6. There are many reasons why people hold back, but for some people, the reason why they don’t seek after Jesus is because they feel as though they are too sinful and that Jesus would never have fellowship with them because of the sinful lives they have led.
7. If you feel this way, I would like to change your mind by revealing a story that we read in the Scriptures.
In (Luke 19:1-10), we read about a man named Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was a sinful man; a tax collector who cheated people out of their money. He was a thief.
But although Zacchaeus was a sinful man, he still sought after the Lord. In fact Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus so badly that when Jesus entered in to Jerico and the crowds made it impossible for him to see, he climbed a sycamore tree just to get a closer look at Jesus and possibly be recognized by Him. And as the story goes, Jesus spotted Zacchaeus in a tree and told him to come down immediately because He wanted to stay at his house.
And while at the house the Bible says that “Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord. Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
8. From this story, I want you to notice two principles about seeking after Jesus.
a. First, it does not matter what kind of life you have led or how sinful you are. You can still seek after Jesus and once you find him, He will give you an opportunity to change your life. (Zacchaeus was a sinner but Jesus gave him an opportunity to change).
b. Second, after you find Jesus, you will realize that your life needs some straightening out. And you will begin to change your life for the sake of Christ.
Once Zacchaeus found Jesus, he was willing to change his life by giving half of his possessions to the poor and giving back the money that he had stolen. Like I said earlier, to many people think that their lives need to be perfect and without sin before they will come to Jesus. But that's not true. We can come to Jesus as sinners and He will begin to help us change our lives.
9. If you have not responded to Jesus by seeking Him out and giving your life and devotion to Him, start this morning, by Believing in Him and by being baptized into His name for the forgiveness of your sins. Stop waiting for the Lord to seek after you and respond to Jesus by seeking after Him. For Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart but the question is are you going to open the door so that He can come in and begin His life changing presence within you.
So far, we have seen that the Magi responded to Jesus by seeking after Him, but not only did they seek after Him, when they found Him, they did what should come natural to all Christians today.
II. SECOND, THE MAGI RESPONDED TO JESUS BY WORSHIPPING HIM (VS. 11).
1. My friends when we find Jesus our first response should be to bow down and worship Him because He is the savior of the world, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lord’s, the Christos (the Christ) and the Son of the Living God.
2. I am here to tell you that Jesus Christ can be and should be worshipped. For Jesus deserves our worship and adoration for who He is and what He has done for us on the cross. In the Bible, we read several accounts that tell us that Jesus was worshipped.
In (Mt. 28:17) several days after Jesus was resurrected from the dead, Jesus met with His eleven disciples. And when they saw Him, “they worshipped Him.” His disciples worshipped Him.
In (Acts 13:2), we read that the church, before they sent Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey was “worshipping the Lord and fasting.”
3. Jesus deserves our worship because He is our Savior, for He has saved our lives. He rescued us from the death of sin and has given us new life.
A couple of years ago on Prime-time Live, I heard a fascinating story about a man in Florida who was so distraught about his relationship with his spouse that he decided that he was going to take his own life.
However, before he tried to kill himself, he wrote a note on a Christian computer bulletin board explaining that he had given up on life. As the story goes, a women in South Carolina saw the message and became very concerned about this stranger. She wanted to help this man, so she wrote a letter back on the bulletin board asking if anyone knew who this depressed man was.
A man in Kentucky responded to her message and told her that he was going to call CompuServe to see if they could tell him the name of the man. CompuServe found the man's name. The man from Kentucky, after receiving the phone number, called a small town in Florida and told the 911 operator that a man in there town wrote a suicide note on a bulletin board and asked her if they could go check on him. So the 911 operator contacted a Police officer and he responded to the call.
When the officer arrived at the house he looked into the garage and found the depressed man sprawled out in his car, unconscious and minutes away from dying from poisonous exhaust fumes. The Police officer made it just in time to take the man to the hospital that eventually saved his life. After the ordeal, the man in Florida wrote another note on the bulletin board thanking the people who were responsible for saving his life.
4. The point of the story is that we at one time were dying of a poisonous exhaust called sin. But our savior (Jesus Christ) came along just in the nick of time and saved us from death. We should be so grateful that Jesus saved us that we should worship Him everyday of our lives. Amen.
III. LASTLY, THE MAGI RESPONDED TO JESUS BY GIVING HIM EXPENSIVE GIFTS (VS. 11).
1. The Magi gave these expensive gifts to Jesus because they were worthy presents for a future king. Some scholars believe that these gifts were symbols of Christ’s identity and what He would accomplish. For example, they believe that the gold was a gift for a king; incense, a gift for deity; & myrrh, a spice for a person who was going to die.
2. But what I want you to see is that these men did not give Jesus just ordinary or insignificant gifts, they gave Him the very best they had to offer. They gave Him what was most valuable to them.
3. In our lives, Jesus has not asked us for expensive gifts of gold, incense, or myrrh, but He does ask us to give Him our very best. He wants us to give Him our lives. He wants us to be totally committed to Him.
(John 12:25-26) “The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”
4. Jesus wants us to be so committed to Him that we put Him first even before our own lives. He doesn’t want our second best, or our leftovers. He wants our total commitment.
ILLUSTRATION: (Choose either one of these illustrations)
Alvin Straight, age seventy-three, lived in Laurens, Iowa. His brother, age eighty, lived several hundred miles away in Blue River, Wisconsin. According to the Associated Press, Alvin's brother had suffered a stroke, and Alvin wanted to see him, but he had a transportation problem. He didn't have a driver's license because his eyesight was bad and he apparently had an aversion to taking a plane, train, or bus. But Alvin didn't let that stop him. In 1994, he climbed aboard his 1966 John Deere tractor lawn mower and drove it all the way to Blue River, Wisconsin to see his brother.
ILLUSTRATION: (Choose either one of these illustrations)
Dan Jansen, who set a world record in the 1000 meter speed skating event and won a Gold medal in the Olympic games in Lillehammer, is a man who knows what it means to be totally committed to his sport. He gave his very best.
In his book called “full Circle” Mr. Jansen described his up hill journey to be the best speed skater in the world. At the age of 18, Dan had made the U.S. Olympic team and skated in the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. At this Olympics, Dan finished 4th place in the 500 meter which was a big accomplishment for a young skater. After the Olympics, Between 1984-1988, he worked harder than he has ever worked in his life to train for the next Olympics. He was so committed to his sport that he trained 7 days a week, 3 times a day working out on weights, running hills, jumping rope, and skating his heart out.
By the time the 1988 Olympics came around, he was favored to win the gold medal. However, while at the Olympics, his sister Jane died on the day of the big race. He was so upset that during his race he fell and did not receive a medal. This was a hard time for him because he loved his sister and was devastated that she had died. However, he continued on to the next Olympics in Albertville in 1992.. But during these games, he had a poor performance and like the last two games he did not receive a medal. During this difficult time, Dan thought about quitting because he didn’t think he could continue to stay in top form to compete with the younger skaters. However, he didn’t quit, but instead he worked even hardier for the next Olympics in Lillehammer in 1994. As most of us know, Dan Jansen, after years of hard work and commitment, fulfilled his Olympic dream by winning a Gold Medal.
5. We should have the same kind of commitment & devotion to Jesus as that man did to his brother. Jesus wants us to give our best and total commitment to Him.
6. Do you give Jesus your best? How committed are you to Him and His will? Let us be like the magi who gave Jesus the best they had to offer.
1. In closing, we have seen that the Magi responded to Jesus by:
a. Seeking after Him.
b. Worshipping Him.
c. Giving Him the best that they had to offer.
2. The star that the Magi used to find Jesus is now resting over this auditorium this morning. But the question is will you come to the star to find Jesus and give your life to Him. Jesus is waiting, please come to Him as we stand and sing.