Happy first Lord’s day of 2023 CHC. So, as we are beginning a new year, today, we would also begin a new chapter here in our study in the Book of Matthew, which we entitled, Kingdom now and hereafter. So if you have your bibles with you, I’d like to begin by reading God’’s word. So please open with me to the Gospel according to Matthew. And for today, we will be looking at chapter 2 from verses 1 to 12. Matthew chapter 2 verses 1 to 12. I’ll be reading from ESV. Hear now the words of our God and King.
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him.
Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.” Praise be to God for the reading of His word. Let us come before the Lord in prayer. Our great and sovereign Lord, we thank You for gathering us as a church on this very first day of the year. And it is a great privilege oh Lord to be starting the year right by celebrating Your day that You have set apart. And O, Lord, may we just remember who is the King. Who is the King of Ages, the King of Kkings and the Lord of lords. And may You reveal Yourself in the Person of Your Son that we, as Your people would come and worship Him for we ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
In the world of professional wrestling, when a superstar hints their return, minsan may mga trailers silang pinapalabas na kanilang mga titantron, marami ang na-e-excite. There are a lot of people especially the fans are being aroused to excitement. And some of the people in the locker room or even other wrestlers, who are part of the brand. But this would also give rise to HOSTILITY, especially kapag yung mga current champions or the ones who are rising from the top na nakikita nilang babalik na yung nawalang wrestler for quite a long time whether injury or let’s say, nag-movie na sila sa Hollywood. And that can become a threat to anyone who is rising or the one who is at the top. In Matthew 2, we see people responding in a varied way, quite differently to the coming of THE ANTICIPATED KING.
In the past weeks, we’ve learned that the Apostle Matthew wrote this gospel targeting primarily (but not limited to) the Jewish audience and based..makikita natin yung based doon sa flavour and the style of writing na ginamit ni Apostle Matthew. And his goal was to show that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah of the Old Testament who would become the ruler and deliverer of His people. And just like most persons in history, if He would assume a PROMINENT POSITION or ROLE, He does this by establishing His credentials. He wanted to make sure, that when you look at Jesus, you would really see that He indeed is the Messiah that is prophesied by the word of God through the prophets. He provided case after case, one case after another to give us a sufficient reason for us to believe that He is the King. He began by pointing to the genealogy of the Lord Jesus Christ that He is the son of David. God has been merciful in preserving and even providentially working through a messy lineage of sinners and even women na hindi naman normative sa kanilang culture na makasama sa Jewish lineage. To keep His covenant commitment in spite of His messy lineage na nandun pa rin. He providentially worked in those lines to make sure that the Messiah would be born in the line of David. And we’ve learned last week that He had a miraculous birth, The Incarnation. While a lot Jewish men could actually point na, ‘yes, I’m a descendant of David.’ But Jesus was different. He’s not just any kind of person. He’s not just any kind of Jewish man. He had a miraculous birth. He is “God with us. Emmanuel.” And at the same time, He is a real person. He is truly God and truly man.
And in this section, we make a shift from the incarnation, His birth, and now, to an episode where He was visited by foreign visitors. At kung tawagin dito ay yung mga Magi or the people from the East. This was roughly after 2 years after Jesus has been born which calls us to deconstruct some of the ideas that we have on “The Nativity.” Madalas, nakikita natin, especially here in the Philippines, that we, when we see a Nativity scene, we see a representation of Joseph, our representation of Mary, a baby, which is supposed to represent Jesus (but it’s a econd commandment violation by the way), and there would be shepherds along with the three kings. Right off the bat, hindi po iyun ang picture ng Nativity. The visit of the shepherds was a separate occasion that was recorded by Luke. At ito yung time na ipinanganak si Kristo. This was the time that Jesus was born. But the visit of the wise men, NOT THE THREE KINGS (that was a later UNFOUNDED extra-biblical tradition) took place AFTER Jesus was born. And this is the occasion that we find ourselves in. And this happened during the time of Herod the King. Sinabi rin dito na it happened during his reign. And if you would know Herod the king, the first of the, of the line of Herods na nakita natin sa scriptures. He was appointed as ruler of Judea by virtue of his political association. By this time, malapit nang matapos ang kaniyang term he did everything that he can to make sure that he would not be released from power. Even by killing his own wife, even killing his own children, just to make sure na hindi sya na-su-suspetsahan or hindi nila na-su-suspetsahan yung kaniyang family members in de-throning him from power. And this is very important to note and later, as we unpack this passage, we would know that, and we would understand why he reated the way he did. And here, we will find another notation on the fulfilled prophecy that Jesus will be born in Bethlehem and the way people would respond from different cultures, knowing that Jesus is the Christ, who has been born King of the Jews have come.
All this is for the writer to give further proof that Jesus is indeed the Christ, the King of kings. And being so, compels all people to acknowledge and pay homage to Him because “The Kingship of the Lord Jesus Christ is a call for all of us, all people from all nations, every tongue in every nation to worship Him.” And this is where I want to take us today. “The Kingship of the Lord Jesus Christ is a call for us to worship Him.”Now what led these people, the people in the story to believe that the Christ has come? This is the first point that we will be looking at. The Sign of The King. And by learning of His coming, how did the people in the story respond to this King? That’s the second point, The Search for The King
And so, let’s look at the first one: The Sign of The King. And so, after providing the occasion to which we find ourselves in, Matthew accounts the arrival of the magis or the wise men from the East, who were sinabi dito sa passage in verse 2, they were inquiring,saying, where is He who was BORN King of the Jews. But we need to understand who these Magis are. These Magis, uhm, according to, according to uh, to Matthew, these are people from the East, particularly, in Babylon. And perhaps Arabia, Persia, somewhere in that region. But most scholars agree that these are men who had a particular interest in astrological observations and making conclusions based on the patterns of the constellations that they see in the stars above. So think of your modern day horoscope. Na tinitignan nila, inaaral nila yung Astrology and look, they’re looking at these things and they’re making conclusions based on what they see.
They are not kings but they have prominent positions as servants of the king of the East. And in verse 2, it tells us WHY they visited. It says here
– “For [they] saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him.”
If you would remember, not too long ago, the Israelites were exiled to Babylon. They were brought there. It is likely that through their interaction with the Jews, they wave learned the Old Testament Scriptures. They’ve known the prophets such as Jeremiah, Ezekiel,
Daniel. They may have been acquianted with the prophetic
writings of the Old Testament. And we see in Numbers chapter 24 verse 7 a prophetic blessing to Israel, through Balaam na dapat curse iyung kaniyang i-po-pronounce, pero blessing yung lumabas sa kaniya. He made three oracles. And one of the things that he mentioned here is that, “a star shall come out of Jacob.” And “a scepter or a ruler, a leader shall arise of Israel” Which means that a King would arise from the nation and that the sign of a star would, would point to His coming. And God, by His providence, may have used this portion of the Scripture to capture the interest of these people from East. And because of that, they traveled to Jerusalem, they made great search and asking where the “king of the Jews” who was born King of the Jews was born, drew the attention of the king himself and all Jerusalem. And the passage tells us the way hey responded is that “they were troubled.” In other words, they were “greatly agitated.” Sobrang ni-nerbiyos sila. Sobrang natakot ang mga taong ito. And what did they do? Verses 4 to 6 tells us that he summoned ALL the chief priests and the scribes of the people.
These are the so—called Expers of the Law. They ruled over Jerusalem. He confirmed as to where the Christ is to be born. They searched the Scriptures and then, boom! “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophets: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
And so we see that there were different ways in which God drew their attention, but these people were led to know that the King has been born by by means of One source: His Word. God uses His Word to draw sinners to Christ, the anticipated King. That’s why we could say with absolute confidence that Jesus, indeed, is the Messiah. The Christ!
That when we look at what was prophesied by the prophets in the Old Testament. And see how it is fulfilled in the New Testament and through the teachings of the Apostles. It gives us absolute certainty that Jesus is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
During political campaigns, we know that information about the candidates are being released so that we can review the background of those who are running in, for offfice. This is for us to get to know them, their background, saan sila nanggaling, their experience, where they came from. But brothers and sisters and friends, we have the sure Word from God to tell us and unveils to us our God and King in the person of Jesus Christ. He would not just be the head or the king of His people, but He would also be a SHEPHERD of His people.
Now, Shepherd or Shepherding has a very rich Old Testament heritage. Ang understanding ng mga Jews that time, the ruler is in the same way, a Shepherd. Magka-dugtong iyon. When you say that you are a ruler, he is also expected to become a Shepherd. It brings us back to theaccount of David in 2 Samuel chapter 5 verse 2. That the people reminded him that the LORD Himself told him that “You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince or leader or king over Israel.” But we understand that as the story unfolds, hindi perect si David. David also failed a bunch of times. Those who came after him, also failed and a lot of them, we see paulit-ulit, in the Book of Kings, they did EVIL in the sight of the LORD. And because of their corrupt leadership, the Prophets Ezekiel and Micah pronounced judgment against the “shepherds” of Israel in their time because they were feeding themselves. They weren’t feeding the flock of God. But God Himself made a covenant with David telling him that there will come in him, his Offspring who would come after him and God will establish His throne forever. And that Offspring is JESUS CHRIST, who rules and shepherds His people. He is King and He is Shepherd.
Scripture reveals to us the unfolding of God’s plan in glorifying Himself in the redemption of sinners through the person and work of His Son whom He appointed as King and Shepherd of His people. And so in contrast with the earthly authorities of the world, by virtue of being fallen sinners, wala silang abilidad to be able to carry out this perfect justice and perfect righteousness that God demands. Herod the great, himself, is a wicked and cruel ruler. But Jesus Christ, whom the Father has ordained to be ruler and shepherd of His people RULES with perfect justice and perfect righteousness. And being (not just any kind of shepherds) but the GOOD Shepherd, Who laid down His life for a great number of people from every tribe and nation, has conquered death, rendered sin powerless, and defanged Satan of every accusation that he can hurl against every believer. John chapter 10 verse 28 to 29 Those whom He redeems He secures and He promises and He says that “He gives them eternal life and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of their hand.” No one will snatch them out of My hand.” He goes further to say that “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one will be able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”
But the bad news is that, friend, if you, you haven’t given your life to the Lord, Jesus Christ, you are outside of that grip of Christ and the Father. You are dead in your trespasses and sins. You are outside of the rule and the shepherding of the Good Shepherd Himself. And you have an expectation of judgment because of your sins. And the only way that you can escape is if you give your life to this Good Shepherd who has come into this world to die on the cross for the sins of His people. And so if you are not yet in Christ, turn away from your sins. Turn awayand place your faith in the Great Shepherd who has lived the perfect life, who has died a sacrificial death. But nonetheless, rose again after te third day. So that we can have assurance. So that He, He would vindicate His people. That He would guarantee that they too, in the last days, and when Christ comes again, will be raised into life. And so, if you haven’t given your life to Christ, I plead with you this morning, come to Christ. Turn away from your sins.
And knowing that the knowledge of our great God and Savior brings not only salvation, but also bolster the assurance of His people. My challenge is that Be drawn to the Scriptures where. Jesus Himself is unveiled, unpacked, revealed. That you would get to know Him in the most intimate sense possible. Be drawn to the Scriptures that reveals who Jesus is. He unveils to us who He is and what He has done, and as well as the scope of His kingship and the extent of His care that He gives to His church. And that by knowing it, by understanding who Jesus is in every trial, in every season of life, in every bitter or good providences, He would give us strength, be comforted, and assured in every season.
While we uphold the importance of knowing the Scriptures, we cry out theology is absolutely important.Theology absolutely matters. There’s a great tendency that we could just keep it all in the head and not allow our hearts to be affected by the things that we have learned about Christ Himself. And all the precious doctrines na pinanghahawakan natin. Bible reading plans are coming up. You have probably downloaded your preferred plan. But let me challenge you to go beyond that. Aside from just reading the entire bible in a year, but I would highly recomment that. There’s nothing wrong with that. You should be able to follow that Bible reading plan, whatever that is. M’Cheyne, whatever that plan is. But read and most importantly pray – asking God that you may see the CENTERPIECE, the glory of Christ, the SUMMUM BONUM, or the whole point of Scripture – the glory of JESUS CHRIST! That by knowing Him, would lead us to greater appreciation of His goodness leading us to continually praise and give thanks to our God and King. And if you want an accurate picture of who Jesus is – nope! Don’t look for images… look to where He is revealed: It is in His Word. But God is also gracious that in our weakness, He gives us further comfort. He gives us the visible Word that is seen in the Baptism, and in the Lord’s Supper, so we can remember what Christ has done for us. And that we can experience that, that reality that as we commune with Him in His table. The visible Word also is a way for us to be able to see the, the work of Christ, and what He has accomplish for us. And so beware, Christ is proclaimed, is revealed and is unveiled So that by understanding Him, would allow us to cultivate our, our christian duties, our responsibilities to one another, and of course, our assurance as we live as His church at the present time. Now, upon understanding who this King is, ano naman yung naging reaction?? What was the reaction and how did the people respond to this King. And so, that would be my second point. The Search For The King. So, we understood that the modes in which the people in the story where informed that the Christ has been born were different. The Magis saw the sign. Herod saw the Magis. Probably, the great entourage that came into Jerusalem, asking for the King of the Jews. And of course why were they looking for the King of the Jew if I am the king of the Jews? Probably, that’s what Herod said. The chief Priests and the scribes were suppose to the know the Scripture were the ones na naging apathetic. They simply answered the question of Herod. But nonetheless, they searched. The Magis searched, Herod searched, the chief priest and the scribes searched. But their response to the king was quite different. Iba-iba sila. Ironically, the people who are expected to long and anticipate the coming of the King, or the ones who were THREATENED along with the current king which is Herod. Herod valued his power and authority LITERALLY above everything. And so in verse 8, sinabi niya that when he learned about this news, and he learned that from the Scripture, it is in Bethlehem that the King would be born, he said that he wants to see the King and come and worship Him. But as we read further, we would know that Herd plans to kill the child who has the right and who was the, who was prophesied to reign on the throne, who would reign over Israel. In the first place, hindi siya dapat nandoon. He shouldn’t be there, in the first place. He was there because of a political association with Caesar Augustus. He is a usurper of the throne. And he is exhausting every means possible now in order for him to remain in power. All Jerusalem, sadly, just like in the Old Testament, has banked their trust, their assurance in the political king who is reigning at the moment. And the people, the scribes, and chief priest did nothing but to simply answer the question, ‘nasaan ang King of the Jews.’ But in contrast, ironically, even from the people from a foreign land. They went out of their way, the Magis. They packaged their bags, they traveled in groups, recognising that there could be dangers along the way. Made DILIGENT search in finding the King. And when they saw the sign, we were told that they “rejoiced exceedingly with great joy”! And coming into the house, they found him, with His mother, and presumably with His father and they worshipped Him, opening their treasures, they gave gifts..gold, frankincense and myrrh. Now, a lot of preachers have speculated so much on what these three gifts mean. But the point is, these people were rich enough. They were people in authority. They were giving gifts that are quite expensive or something that is worthy to be given to the king. Because in their culture, whenever they’re meeting a monarch or a king, it is expected that you would give him the best of gifts. That’s basically, and moreover we can see the fruit of their obedience. Because towards the end of the passage, we see that when they were warned in a dream, they went the other way to go back to their country. Now the same thing is true when the church evangelises and when we proclaim the gospel to the lost, we will have or we will evoke different responses towards the King that we proclaim. Christ’s kingship evokes different responses from different people. Christ’s kingship evokes different responses from people.
When your boss passes by the hallway, you may hear 2 similar but really distinct responses: yung una – Uy, si boss (smiling)! Yung pangalawa, Uy, si boss! (with a worried look). Nakita ninyo ang difference? Pareho lang yun. Pero magkaiba ang ibig sabihin.
In the same way, Christ can either be: the cause for our exceeding joy or, He can also be the threat against your worldly securities, our earthly aspirations, the things that we hold dear. And ultimately, the sins that we keep so dear in our hearts. Hindi naman nakikita ng ibang tao, but God Himself sees. WHY? Because being in Christ delivers us from the wrath of God because of our sins. We are confident that when we stand before the judgment of God, that there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. We have been made heirs of God in Christ Jesus, through which all the spiritual blessings in the heavenly places are given to us. But on the other hand, if you are someone who did not believe in the Lord Jesus who would want to set up your own kingdom in this world, you will find it as a threat that would always get in the way of your agendas. And the way you use your time, your efforts, the way you conduct your responsibilities before God and man would be altered in the understanding of who Jesus is.
Now, how about you? Does knowing that Christ has come to save sinners like you and I bring you exceeding joy? Does it make your hope more strong? Does it give you steafast hope? Or does it trouble you? Because you love your sins so much. But CONSIDER THE GREAT LOVE OF GOD. Friends, brothers and sisters, He sent the serpent head crusher, the promised blessing to all the nations, the Great High Priest who’s the sole Mediator between God and man, who has come to save us. The God- man, the King who would rule over His people forever and ever.
He gave His only begotten Son for sinners like you and I so that we would no longer grope and grab on the the vain things of the present world but rather possess the greatest Blessing. God Himself. And knowing that each of us can only find our hope in Him, my last challenge, brothers and sisters, and friends, Entrust yourself fully and ground your hope upon Jesus Christ. Worship Him. Entrust yourself fully and ground your hope upon Jesus Christ. And worship Him.
Because of these graces given us through Him, it should energise us to offer ourselves before our God as living sacrifices and exercise our godly duties. After un-packing Romans chapter 1 all the way to 11, pagdating ng chapter 12, because of all these realities, because of the graces of God, Paul himself said that as your spiritual worship, you offer your ourselves as a living sacrifice. This would make us serious. Or, this would make us do serious considerations of the way we use our time, our gifts, and the resources that God has blessed us with. And giving our absolute best, in response to the grace that God has given us. This should be seen in the way we WORSHIP Him – personally, corporately. Our DAILY CHRISTIAN LIVING – in holiness upholding purity. Shunning every form of sin, every advances of satan. Our VOCATIONS. Nagiging like ba tayo sa ating mga co-workers and colleagues? And in our FELLOWSHIP, do we show the love of Christby serving one another in love?
I do not advocate making New Years Resolutions, but if you’re gonna make one, I think this is a pretty good way to start of. Entrust yourself fully to God in Christ and ground your hope in Him. Knowing that Christ is King over all things, rules over all creation, the head of the church, and He upholds us by the Word of His power, then it should be, kumbaga foolish na para sa atin to trust any other things. Anything less than Christ. Trust in Him alone and set your securities in no other.
One of the go-to’s for a lot of Christians kapag New Year, they would always look at or even read all of the resolutions, 70 of them of one of our favorite preachers and ministers of the Puritan age, si Jonathan Edwards. And he completed the 70 resolutions for almost a year. Sinulat niya yun from 1722 to 1723. And I would like to quote resolution number 53, which says.. “Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly unto him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide with my Redeemer.”
Since the only hope for sinners like you and I is Christ, may we give ourselves holy unto Him. And those who truly worship The Lord Jesus Christ are safe under His sovereign rule and care. Now Scripture calls us to bow before the King who has come, who has conquered, and who will come again to consummate His kingdom. But until then, let us set our hopes completely upon Him, serving Him with all of our might and great zeal, trusting in His power to bring about His purposes.
Let us pray. Our Great God and King, and Oh Lord, we thank You for Your word that reminds us of its sufficiency. That if we would want to see You, we can look at the Scriptures Oh Lord, and see how You unveil Yourself in the Person of Your Son. And Oh Lord, we thank You because You have given us the Spirit so that we would know the reality of our sin and see as well the great hope that we have in Christ. And Oh, Lord, if anyone here still has that hard heart against You, if they are living in hostility against You, and if we are not affected by the great truths of who You are, Oh Lord, Jesus, may You be the One to, to bring that change upon our hearts. Make it alive again Oh Lord if some people here have not given their lives to You Oh, Lord. And we pray that those who are struggling in their faith, Father God, may You allow them to, to, to go back to what Christ has done through it, through Your Spirit, that they would rekindle that joy that they had in Christ. And so Lord, maraming-marami pong salamat for this wonderful morning that we have considered Your Word. We pray that You would be with us all throughout this day as we worship You as a church in Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.