Why worship at Christmas time?

Wesley_C“Gaze on that helpless object of endless adoration!
Those infant hands
shall burst our bands
and work out our salvation;
Strangle the crooked serpent;
destroy his works forever,
And open set the heavenly gate
to every true believer.”

Charles Wesley

The New Born King – The Agony – Matthew 2:1-12

The Agony – How do insiders respond to this news? The birth of this King troubles and agitates insiders… the power brokers of the establishment (both political and ecclesiastical). Rather than rejoicing at this news, they are troubled by it. Now, if we are honest, most of us find repulsive the idea of someone ruling over us.

A.         One word in verse 3 summarizes the insiders’ response: Troubled. This word means “to cause one inward commotion and take away calmness of mind.” This sense of agitation and trouble is reflected in two types of opposition. Indifference and hostility.

Indifference – Spiritual apathy and complacency. The first kind is a group of people who simply do nothing about this news of a newborn King. The chief priests and scribes represent this group. Verse 4: “Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, [Herod] inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.” The sheer passivity and inactivity of the leaders is overwhelming in view of the magnitude of what was happening. This is not only their failure, but ours at times.

Matthew challenges what he regards as spiritual complacency. The insiders knew precisely where their Messiah would be born, but they refused to join the Magi on their quest. Their sin of taking Jesus for granted is a sin that can especially characterize the leaders of God’s people.

B.         Indignant/hostile – A new ruler meant one thing for King Herod: political instability. He would interfere with Herod’s power, position, and control.

Herod the Great reigned from 37-34 b.c. The Roman Senate appointed him king. He was ruthless: murdering his wife, three sons, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, uncle, and many others. It is no surprise he had no problem killing babies in the surrounding district of Bethlehem.

C.         Practical Implications:

1.         People concerned with their own status, position and stability refuse to acknowledge and bow before King Jesus as the only rightful ruler of His people.

2.         People of the establishment in positions of power and control typically resist God’s purposes, while the lowly and marginal (the Gentile magi) embrace them.

3.         I, like Herod, am a pretender-king, and Jesus, is the real King. How often I have been more interested in saving my good name, my kingdom, and my throne rather than saving my soul.

The New Born King – The Ecstacy – Matthew 2:1-12

The Ecstasy – How do outsiders respond to finding the King? When they find the newborn King, what do they do? When I mention the word ecstasy, I am talking about a state of overwhelming, overpowering emotion. In this case… rapturous delight. See Matthew 2, verse 10. The most arresting verse of the entire passage. The Greek emphasizes the quality of the magi’s joy with four consecutive words (literally “and they rejoiced with a joy, a great one, indeed an exceedingly great one).

A.  What do they do? They worship Him. When they entered the house, they prostrated themselves before them. The magi were wealthy, warm-hearted, and worshipful. The word for ‘worship’ in the original carries the idea of “prostrating oneself, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence.”All that find Christ bow down before him; adore him, and submit themselves to him. The wise men found this newborn King on the lap of a poor, peasant, teenage woman, and worshipped Him and confessed that he was Christ.

B.   How do they do it?

1.    Their worship is marked by intense joy. Worship Jesus for who He is. Here are scientists who still possess the ability to be amazed and astonished. Does this type of joy mark your corporate worship of our Lord Jesus Christ? How about your personal worship? If not, why not?

2.    Their worship is marked by willing sacrifice. Give to Jesus what’s valuable to you. Worship always is. It costs them their precious resources: time and treasure. They gave gifts and offered their treasures to Him.

a)    Their gifts. They presented him with lavish and appropriate gifts that mark His royal status as God’s Messiah. Isaiah spoke of gifts of worship coming from outsiders bringing their gifts of gold and frankincense to “proclaim the praises of our Lord” (Isa 60:6), Gold – for he was and is indeed a king, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Frankincense for he is indeed God, the fullness of the godhead dwells in him. Myrrh for he is also man, destined for death.

b)   Our gifts. Edward Hopkins wrote a hymn in 1800s that challenges us to consider what our gifts to the King should be:

The wise may bring their learning, The rich may bring their wealth,
And some may bring their brilliance, And some bring strength and health;

We too would bring our treasures to offer to the King;
We have no gifts deserving—What shall we children bring?

We’ll bring Him hearts that love Him; We’ll bring Him thankful praise,
And young souls humbly striving, to walk in holy ways.

And these shall be our treasures, we offer to the King,
And these are gifts that even, the youngest child may bring.

Lastly, remember King David who said: “I will not give to the Lord that which costs me nothing!” (2 Samuel 24:24)

Why do they worship Jesus? He is the ruler of God’s people. He’s the King of all kings who defends, saves and preserves his people.  Jesus, the King for others, saved us  rather than Himself at the Cross. “Every time we reflect on that cross, Christ seems to say to us, ‘I am here for you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.’” — John Stott

Thus, what are we to do this Christmas?

“Gaze on that helpless object of endless adoration!
Those infant hands shall burst our bands and work out our salvation;
Strangle the crooked serpent; destroy his works forever,
And open set the heavenly gate to every true believer.”       – Charles Wesley

Would you give yourself in this upcoming year to a more intentional, passionate pursuit of your King?