For we saw His star in the east, and are come to worship Him.
Arise, shine, for your Light has come, and the Glory of the Lord has risen upon You. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon You, and His Glory will be seen upon You. And nations shall come to Your Light, and kings to the brightness of Your rising.
Lift up Your eyes all around, and see; they all gather together, they come to You; Your sons shall come from afar, and Your daughters shall be carried on the hip. Then You shall see and be radiant; Your heart shall thrill and exult, because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to You, the wealth of the nations shall come to You. A multitude of camels shall cover You, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.
For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the Mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly.
When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the Mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.
This Mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same Body, and partakers of the Promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel. Of this Gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of His Power.
To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the Plan of the Mystery hidden for ages in God Who created all things, so that through the Church the manifold Wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
This was according to the Eternal Purpose that He has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in Whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in Him.
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.
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.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
There's much to consider on Epiphany as has already been the case this morning. To consider the wise men, where they came from, who they were, how many there were. To consider their gifts, to consider the star, to consider the kingship of the Lord Jesus versus Herod, to consider their journey and their sacrifice. You could consider their joy; there are all sorts of different things here in a short number of verses for you to look further into to ponder and to search. And I don't think you would ever quite extinguish all the wonder that is the mystery of the Father in heaven revealing his son to the nation's and to us here today. But it's Epiphany so we'll try, in part, to consider the great salvation that is ours as the wise men came from afar to fall down and worship the Christ.
I imagine there are days that you've slept entirely through some great event. Maybe this way, did you hear the rain last night, was quite a storm? No, I didn't hear it. Or, oh yes I did hear it. Did you hear the fireworks last night, I didn't know there was going to be fireworks? Oh yeah, I was listening, I hadn’t gone to bed yet. Or, no I didn't see them at all. Did you see the great comet in the sky as it went across from here to there, it was just a tremendous site? Yes, I did, no I didn't.
So the wise men tell Herod they had been following the star, they had ceased seeing it, and that after their visit with him they saw it again and they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. We have seen his star in the east and we've come to worship Him, as it goes with many and the stars. Some study them and behold them and others don't. So to all the world with that great star the Father in heaven reveals the savior of the world, his only begotten Son. And some see it and make great sacrifices to come to bow down before that king while others don't regard it at all, notice it, or live their lives in total ignorance of it, so that great star.
Epiphany to light up, to spotlight on, to make manifest, especially to the world that God has come to us in human flesh to save. Notice it oh world of heavens and the earth, take note, the father is lighting up the world on the way to his son and then with his son. Some will notice, some will never take note. But the father with his creation wants to reveal his son to those in Israel and those from far away. And so the father through his creation and all the more through his word wants to reveal his son to all the world. He would have all the world take part in this great salvation. And if they believed him it is because the father has revealed him and if they don't believe him it's because they’ve hardened their hearts and they don't care. It's not the Father's fault that Herod didn't take note of the star or the urging of the wise men. And it is to the Father's glory that he's given all of us the Holy Spirit that we would take note, that we would wake up from our stupor and we would rejoice greatly in this tremendous gift, that is the son of God given to open heaven to us.
We consider the star, if you'll work a little at it, it's just absolutely astounding. In the beginning, God put the stars in the heavens for times and dates and seasons. And at the fullness of time, God sent his son to be born of a woman, to be born under the law, to redeem all the world. He put the stars in the heavens, the Lord Jesus, and then the Lord Jesus is numbered with those who open and close their eyes under the stars. The stars are the world's calendar, they keep track of everything that happens, the years but also the seasons, times, and days; you could set your planner according to the stars in the heavens. So there's one of two thoughts. That at the beginning of all of the world the calendar in the sky would come together to show the great time of the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. That the ages would go by and the calendar, that is the stars, and the heavens would roll on and that at this perfect time they would align so that the wise would take note and be led to the son, that the very creation would preach its creator, there born of the virgin — one thought.
I think I like it, that from the very beginning of the world God says at this specific time all of the planets will align and rejoice and enlighten the nations as the Christ will be born just there and just then — one thought.
The other thought that the Father intervenes in the course of the world and puts a star in the sky, exceptionally so, over against the course of creation. That he intervenes against the common order of things and miraculously so, leads people out of the darkness to His son with a star, that behaves not like any other star, but it does the Father in Heaven's bidding and leads these people on a great journey, that is well worth their sacrifice, there to David’s town and to the son of God in flesh Himself to Jesus. That the father breaks into our lives and does whatever is necessary to get us to his home and to our salvation through the Lord Jesus. So, a different thought concerning the star, also wonderful.
There are many, many questions that we will have answered when we are in heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ and the mystery of the star will be made known. But all the better, the star leads to the Christ Himself who lightens up all the world for the blessing and benefit of all who believe in him. So we move from the star and we don't see it anymore but the Lord Jesus remains to be the light that shines in the darkness, to enlighten those who sit in the shadow of death, and to guide our days into the way of peace.
There's something better than a creation that preaches it's God and that's the preaching of our God in flesh himself.
If it was a bit mysterious, to the wise men, they don't think they're Kings but rather scientists or the leading thinkers of the day. If the star was a little mysterious, well then the scriptures were opened up by ignorant Herod and took away all doubt. If there's some doubt or darkness over who made the heavens and the earth well then we've been blessed to be able to open the Scriptures and see for ourself that God has made it all for us, redeemed it all for us, and loves us, and wants good for us.
The creation preaches the Creator, but all the better, the word of Jesus preaches it all the more clearly.
So they dusted off the dusty book like the world ought to do today. And they actually encountered it, even though a lot of people talk about it I think few actually encounter it, but they actually did. And there the Scriptures said,
‘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.’
They’ve come to the palace but Jesus wasn't found to rule in the palace. They come to the palace and they encounter the Holy Scriptures and it pointed them to Bethlehem to find the King of all the creation, who would rule with an iron fist but who would shepherd His people unto everlasting life. Jesus is revealed by the Father in heaven through the star, through his creation. All the better through His word to all who encounter and trust in it, to remove the darkness from our eyes and to bless us, that we might not grope through this world unknowing, but that we might see clearly that God has made us, redeemed us, and has a place in front of us that we might be with Him.
God is revealed not just to some but to all, the testimony of the wise men. Not just to a certain class but to all different kinds of people, our own congregation being a testimony, poor shepherds who are very near, rich men who come from very far. Those who are quite simple, those who are quite profound, the Lord Jesus revealed to one and all alike.
I've got to imagine that this wasn't just some small caravan but that it was grandiose, majestic, huge, and needed all sorts of support. It's thought that they'd come out of Babylon, that they had the word of the prophet Daniel, there in the great courts of the King. It's thought that God's grace, not his wrath is on Babylon through their testimony. If it's so, this journey is like a thousand miles to make, not with a vehicle but of course with animals. So it's not just three guys taking a little stroll but it's quite profound and huge. You wouldn't go by unnoticed, you'd be like a little army going through the desert coming into Jerusalem, parading into Bethlehem. So it's profound and it's huge and it's glorious, the gospel known and the Christ-given, but also for humble ones like a few Shepherds who might be bringing along their sheep, the gospel is for all kinds.
The Lord Jesus is revealed. There's quite a contrast here between Herod's kingship, who kill anybody that looked at him funny and the Lord Jesus who deals with us, not with an iron fist but with the forgiveness of sins. They asked Herod, where's the one born King of the Jews. I thought, there are not many places in the Bible that Jesus is called the king of the Jews. But they have some knowledge, presumably from the Bible of old, that a king is being born of the Jews, in Israel, and they want to know where, where's the one born King of the Jews.
Obviously, the language gets Herod all in a tizzy and he kills all the children and he lies about things, he wants to blot our salvation from the face of the earth. King of the Jews, it's heard here at the humble birth of Jesus, not in a palace, but in a stable where they lay him in a manger, probably now in a house with his father and mother. The wise men say he's the king of the Jews, well you know the other place that he's called King of the Jews, don't you. Matthew just has it two places, here with the wise men and there in front of Pilate, and on the cross. Herod's worried he's got political competition, but this king he rules in a greater more profound way than the Congress and the President and the kings and the rulers of this land. He's called the king of the Jews and he's revealed to rule over you and me there at the cross with the forgiveness of sins.
His government will be upon his shoulders, we say at Christmas time and his name will be called wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting father, Prince of Peace. They rejoice and they give Him everything they have because what He has is of greater value than what they do. But my, if you grumble about having to press your clothes to come to church or you kind of have a long journey to get here, like all a seven miles or something, then consider and be encouraged by the wise men who gave very years of their life, put their lives into danger as they journeyed, put forth great effort, gave of their treasures quite willingly, knowing that the Lord Jesus gives better still, that his journey from heaven to earth is certainly better than theirs, and his sacrifice greater to save us all from our sins.
So they rejoiced with great joy and so do we on this Epiphany and every time we receive the blessing of the Lord which is every minute of our lives. So that may we too give all that we have, sacrifice everything, and bow down and worship the king, the Christ, the shepherd of his people Israel.
The peace of God which passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus our Lord.