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<< Discover the Book, with Dr. John Barnett

Discover the Book - Dec. 19, 2008

  • 2008 Dec 19

God in a Manger

The second glory of Christmas is the glorious response of those who witnessed Christ's birth. They offered Him pure and glorious worship! Let us pause for a moment away from the blur that we call the holidays. Secluded in our quiet haven together, join me in an hour of worship.

  • Ascribing glory to Christ.
  • Adoring His beauty.
  • Bowing in utter unworthiness at His love and gracious beneficence.
  • Casting treasures at His feet.
  • Lifting our hearts and voices before Him
  • Magnifying His name.

And what does Matthew 2 record as the first reaction to the birth of Christ - Worship. Shortly after the birth of the Messiah, Babylonian magi from the East arrived in Jerusalem and inquired of King Herod where the real king of the Jews was to be born.

The immediate reaction of the theologians of Herod's court who knew the Scriptures well-was "in Bethlehem." What is amazing is that as they recited these words they showed the terrible condition that though they knew the Scriptures, they did not believe them! What a sad indictment upon these Bible students that they did not even bother to travel the five or six miles to Bethlehem to see their Messiah.

But one person in the crowded court believed the Scriptures! Herod believed the Scriptures! That is why he dispatched a corps of butchers to Bethlehem to slaughter innocent children, in hopes of destroying this rival to his throne. But he was too late. The magi had come and gone and Jesus was by now safe in Egypt.
Another group also believed, those magi believed the Scriptures. They had traveled several hundred miles to worship this Babe. They were guided to Bethlehem by a supernatural celestial phenomenon as well as by the Scriptures. Apparently, their ancestors had been instructed by Daniel the prophet about the coming Messiah. . . When they saw the Child, they fell down and worshiped him. This was God in the flesh. They could do no other.

And they gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. This was an unusual present-by any standard. The gold, of course, we all can understand-but the frankincense and myrrh were odd. Perhaps this means these wise men had been exposed to Isaiah's prophecy which foretold that "nations will come to your light, and kings to your rising. . . They will bring gold and frankincense, and will bear good news. . . " (Isa. 60:3, 6). This exposure and their response explains the frankincense, but not the myrrh.

To the ancients myrrh, like frankincense, was a perfume. But unlike frankincense, myrrh always seemed to have the smell of death. In the ancient world, it was used to embalm a corpse. Jesus himself would be embalmed with this very perfume (cf. John 19:39).

How could the magi be thinking of Jesus' death when they brought the myrrh? The only way was if they knew of it from Daniel's prophecy (9:24-27). In the ninth chapter of Daniel we read that the 'Messiah will be cut off' and this 'will make atonement for iniquity' and ultimately 'bring in everlasting righteousness' (9:26, 24).

Even at the birth of our Savior, the shadow of the cross is already falling over his face. . . 

And what does Matthew record as the first mention of reaction to Christ - Worship. Listen to the Holy Scriptures as they pull back the cloak of time. With vibrant freshness listen to Matthew describe this hallowed moment with such unforgettable words. God enters time and space as an infant!

Please take a moment and read Matthew 2:1-11

May we be moved to worship Him as our Lord Jesus Christ in three blessed ways:

  • Seeing His Hands of Love
  • Seeing His Face of Glory
  • Seeing His Feet of Peace

Look at Mt. 2 and the Magi they:

1.      v. 1 Came from far away

2.      v. 2 Had single minded devotion

3.      v. 3-8 Aren't daunted by false seekers

4.      v. 9 Keep following God's leading

5.      v. 10 Have great anticipation

6.      Psalm 16:11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

7.      Psalm 43:4 Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And on the harp I will praise You, O God, my God.

8.      John 20:20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

9.      v. 11 Purpose to see and give

That worship is a presentation of our gifts to God. We read that these wise men "presented unto Him gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh." The significance of these gifts is beautiful. Gold speaks of Deity, as a study of the Tabernacle makes plain. Frankincense gives forth its perfume only as it is brought into contact with fire. Myrrh speaks of suffering, and is associated with the death and burial of our Lord. Thus these wise men, by the gifts they presented to Him, expressed first, their faith in His essential and eternal Deity; second, their appreciation of the fragrance of His sinless life which should ascend, as a sweet perfume, to His Father; and third, their estimation of the virtue and value of His vicarious sufferings, by which the redemption of humanity should be accomplished.

Let us behold and adore
Your Hands of Love.
Have you pondered the hands of baby Jesus?

Those tiny infant hands had been busy once. Though now in pink perfection they clasp a mother's finger they once flung out the curtain of the heavens. Sprinkled across space the myriads of stars, galaxies, pulsating quasars and filmy nebulas. Genesis 1:16 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also.

Those miniature hands so soft and tender had already brought forth the craggy mountain heights and shaped their majesty Psalm 90:2 Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. (NKJV)

Then they dug deep into the fresh dirt of the garden and scooped out the dust from which the first human was fashioned in the very image of God. Those hands of Jesus lifted the lifeless dust and breathed into that bit of earth the breath of life
. Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (NKJV)

Tonight let us worship him. Those hands that touched lepers with the touch of acceptance, love and healing we worship you oh Lamb of God who came to us in our pits of sin and rescued us. Those hands that gave sight to blind and sightless eyes we worship you oh Savior who opened our eyes that we may see You. Those hands that touched cold and lifeless ones and brought them to life, we worship you oh Redeemer who touched our cold and lifeless hearts and diffused quickening life giving grace that we might become Your sons and daughters.


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