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                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                   The Visit Of The Wise Men (2:1-12)

INTRODUCTION

1. Common to many nativity scenes commemorating the birth of Jesus is
   the presence of "three wise men"...
   a. Implied is that these men, three in number, visited Jesus while
      still in the manger
   b. Is this what the Bible really teaches?

2. Matthew is the gospel writer who records this visit...
   a. Which is found in Mt 2:1-12
   b. Which serves as the text for our study today

[This story of "The Visit Of The Wise Men" is both interesting and of
practical value.  Having read the text, let's first note some...]

I. INTERESTING FEATURES OF THIS STORY

   A. FOR WHAT MATTHEW DOESN'T TELL US...
      1. Who exactly were these "wise men from the East"?
         a. Some think they were a group of priests from Persia
         b. Others believe they were astrologers from Babylon
      2. How many were there?
         a. No actual number is given
         b. Three types of gift are mentioned (Mt 2:11), but quality of
            gifts does not necessarily imply the quantity of givers!
      3. What was the nature of the "star"?
         a. Was it an actual "star"?
         b. Was it the planet Jupiter, often associated with the birth
            of kings
         c. Was it a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the Sign of
            the Fish?
         d. Was it a comet acting erratically?
      4. How did these wise men connect the star with the birth of the
         king of the Jews?
         a. Had they been taught by Jews of the Dispersion to expect
            the Messiah?
         b. Had they been given special revelation from God not
            recorded in the Scriptures?

   B. FOR WHAT LEGENDS HAVE RISEN...
      1. That these wise men were "three kings from the Orient"
      2. That their names were Melchior, Balthasar, and Caspar
      3. That they visited Baby Jesus together with the shepherds the
         night of His birth
         a. But it was some time later (up to two years!) - Mt 2:1,16
         b. They visited Mary and the child in a house, not a stable! 
            - Mt 2:11
      4. That they were later baptized by Thomas

[The facts are the Biblical record says little about WHO these men 
were.  Perhaps because the emphasis is upon WHAT they did:  "We have
come to WORSHIP Him." (Mt 2:2,11) What is important is that Jesus is
worthy of worship, which can only mean that He is truly DEITY (cf. 
"Immanuel", or "God with us")!

But there are other lessons that can be gleaned from "The Visit Of The
Wise Men"...]

II. LESSONS TO BE LEARNED

   A. IT IS EASY FOR FICTION TO BE TAKEN AS FACT...
      1. We have seen what people have done with the story of Jesus' 
         birth
         a. Making the number of the wise men to be three
         b. Having them visit Jesus in the stable
      2. There are other examples
         a. Making the "forbidden fruit" in the Garden to be an "apple"
         b. Depicting baptism in the Bible as pouring or sprinkling
      -- We need to be like the Bereans (Ac 17:11), and make sure we
         get the facts straight!

   B. THERE MAY BE TRUE SERVANTS OF GOD IN PLACES WHERE WE MIGHT NOT
      EXPECT TO FIND THEM...
      1. The Lord may have many "hidden ones" (i.e., hidden to our 
         knowledge) like the wise men
      2. Their history on earth may be as little known as that of 
         Melchizedek, Job, Jethro
      3. We must not assume that God's people consists only of those we
         know about, listed in "our" directories
         a. There can be many faithful Christians in other countries
         b. We may not know about them, but God does! - 2 Tim 2:19
         -- Though unknown to us, we can still pray for them!

   C. IT IS NOT ALWAYS THOSE WHO HAVE THE MOST RELIGIOUS PRIVILEGES,
      WHO GIVE CHRIST THE MOST HONOR...
      1. One would think the chief priests and scribes would have been
         the first to go to Bethlehem, hearing rumors that the Savior
         was born
         a. But no, it was a few unknown strangers from a distant land
         b. As John wrote in his gospel, "He came to His own, and His
            own did not receive Him" - Jn 1:11
      2. Sadly, the same is often true today
         a. Those in the Lord's church often show less love and 
            adoration than those in the denominations of men
         b. Children of Christian parents often show less interest than
            many children of non-Christians

   D. THERE MAY BE KNOWLEDGE IN THE HEAD, WHILE THERE IS NO GRACE IN
      THE HEART...
      1. The chief priests and scribes were quick to provide Herod the
         answer to his question
         a. But as far as we know, they did not act on such knowledge
         b. They did not go to Bethlehem, and some never did come to
            believe in Him
      2. What about us today?
         a. We may knowledge in the head (we know the truth), but do we
            have grace in our hearts (do we act on it)?
         b. We need to always grow in grace and knowledge - 2Pe 3:18

   E. THE WISE MEN ARE A SPLENDID EXAMPLE OF SPIRITUAL DILIGENCE...
      1. Consider what it must have cost them to travel
         a. In money
         b. In time
         c. In dangers
      2. What about our diligence?  Are we willing to pay the price...
         a. To find Christ?
         b. To serve Him?
         c. To worship Him?
      -- They traveled at great costs and risk to worship Jesus; many
         Christians won't even take the time to attend a gospel meeting
         or a second service on Sunday!

   F. THE WISE MEN ARE A STRIKING EXAMPLE OF FAITH...
      1. They believed in Christ...
         a. When they had never seen Him prior to their journey
         b. When the scribes and chief priests were unbelieving
         c. When all they saw was a little child on a mother's knee!
            1) Without miracles to convince them (except the star)
            2) Without much teaching to persuade them
         -- Yet they "fell down and worshipped Him"
      2. This is the kind of faith God delights to honor!
         a. For God saw fit to record their example of faith for us
         b. And every time this passage is read, their example of faith
            is honored!
         -- As Jesus said later, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you
            have believed.  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet
            have believed." - Jn 20:29

CONCLUSION

1. May the faith and diligence of the wise men serve to inspire us to
   greater service to our Lord!

2. Though the world around us may remain careless and unbelieving, 
   let's not be ashamed to believe in Jesus and confess Him

3. We have much more reason to believe Him and worship Him...
   a. His miracles, His resurrection from the dead
   b. His teachings, His death on the cross for our sins

Are we willing to make the effort to find, worship, and serve this 
great King?  As stated on a popular bumber-sticker:

                        "Wise men still seek Him"

NOTE:  Some of the main points for this lesson were taken from
"Expository Thoughts On The Gospels" by J. C. Ryle.
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