The Promised Emmanuel: Joy (Advent Part 3)

The wise men “rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” when they saw the star of “He who had been born king of the Jews.” We also can also experience this same joy when we have the eyes, heart, and anticipation of the wise men. In this message, we will discover these things as we reflect on the story of Christmas.

The Promised Emmanuel

Advent Part 3: Joy

Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – Dec. 17th, 2017

 

Intro:

  • During this advent season we have been preparing our hearts and minds in preparation for the celebration of the promised Emmanuel.
  • We have joined with Simeon and Anna in waiting with expectant hope for the God of the universe to make good on His promises.
  • We have learned from Mary to love and treasure Jesus above all other things in our heart.
  • This morning, we are looking at the wise men with the aim of being equipped by their example of how we are to be people who “rejoice exceedingly with great joy,” at the confirmation that we are facing the right way and heading in the direction of the promised one and the fulfillment of His promise.
  • How are we to be people who experience great joy and exceeding rejoicing at the confirmation that we are facing the right way and heading in the direction of the promised one and the fulfillment of His promise? I believe it is by having the three things the wise men possessed.

 

Matt 2:1-12 ESV

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, 2 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.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

 

6 “‘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.'”

 

7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 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.” 9 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.10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 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. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

 

  • Here are a few things I’d like to highlight from this story:

 

Matt 2:1-2 ESV

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, 2 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.”

 

 

Have a watchful eye

  • The wise men were looking for, and paying attention to the signs of God and His working in the world. They had “eyes that could see” or “watchful eyes.”
  • Are you looking for, and paying attention to the signs of God and His working in the world? Is this something that you are actively paying attention to?  So much of God’s work is “hiding in plain sight.”  Ask God to give you “eyes that see” and a heart that is “pure.”  Why? Because:

 

Matt 5:8 NIV

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

 

  • If you want to see God, the only way to do so is to have a pure heart.

 

Titus 1:15-16 ESV

To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.

 

  • Your heart is the filter for what you see. (See through heart shaped glasses)
  • How do you get a pure heart? Jesus’ brother James knew:

 

James 4:8-10 ESV

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

 

  • Draw near to God . . . and He will draw near to you.
  • Cleanse your hands . . . ask for forgiveness of what you have done.
  • Purify your hearts . . . by taking stock of what is there and cleaning it through repentance and washing with the word.
  • Humble yourself . . . recognize that everything is not about you. You are not what the universe is about, you are not the most important thing there is.
  • We in order to “rejoice exceedingly with great joy” we must have “watchful eyes.” The next thing I want to highlight is what they came to do:

 

Matt 2:1-2 ESV

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, 2 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.”

Have a worshipful heart

  • Because they had watchful eyes, they saw, and because they saw, they acted, because they had a heart of worship.
  • They did not come to have another experience. They did not come to add to their treasure chest or spoon collection. They did not come to physically enrich themselves.  They came to worship Him. This was their driving desire: to give Him worship.
  • They were not coming to magnify themselves but the magnify Him, honor him, respect Him, glorify Him, and give to Him. Worship is the result of recognizing the worth of something – “worth-ship.” In order to recognize the worth of something or someone else requires humility. You must turn down the brightness of your own life, so you can see how others shine . . . and Jesus is the “bright morning star” (Rev.22:16).
  • Those who are proud never bow their knee to another, for they have become stiff and unbending with pride. Pride exults yourself and makes you blind to the worth of all others.
  • You must again apply the advice of the work of God through the apostle James and bring yourself low and humble yourself by seeing the truth of who you are in the light of who He is. In so doing, you will cultivate a heart of worship, honor and giving, that will be right, fitting and good and will result in joy, love and thanksgiving in your heart.
  • Next, we move to the third thing we need in order to rejoice exceedingly with great joy in the confirmation of knowing that we are facing the right way and heading in the direction of the promised one and the fulfillment of His promise.

 

Matt 2:8-10 ESV

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.” 9 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.10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

 

Have a wonderous anticipation

  • The wise men had a “watchful eye,” therefore they saw the sign of the star that signified the one who had been born king of the Jews. Because they had hearts of worship, they made their way to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, where surely, this King must have been born.
  • Their appearance in Jerusalem and what they said greatly troubled Herod and all of Jerusalem. This reaction was more than likely because they were respected men (they most probably came from Babylon, and were among those of the school of the magi – this is what Daniel was apart of) and the people of Jerusalem were troubled because they were not watching or waiting with hearts of worship. They saw this as a threat to their way of life.
  • Herod found out from the religious leaders where the Messiah was to be born and told the wise men this information. They then, armed with this specific revelation, turned south and started on their 5 mile trek to Bethlehem.
  • While on the way, the star that they had seen previously went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. (For more information about the star go to http://www.bethlehemstar.com and/or watch the DVD “The Star of Bethlehem.”)
  • When they saw the star, they “rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”
  • They rejoiced exceedingly with great joy, not when they saw this king, but at the confirmation that they were going the right way and that they would see with their own eyes the great king they came to worship and to give to. They had a “wonderous anticipation” of what was yet to come, and this caused them to “rejoice exceedingly with great joy.” It is like scoring the winning touchdown at the super bowl: in just a little time you will be receiving the goal that you have worked so hard for and came so far to get: the goal of your desire, your sacrifice and your service.
  • They recognized the surpassing value of the one “who has been born king of the Jews,” the very son of God. The wise man had it all – knowledge, wisdom, faith, respect, position, wealth friendship, time, freedom, access, health – but they knew they lacked what had truly lasting value and eternal worth: the gift of immense and greatest value – the Son of God! In Him is eternal life, forgiveness of sin, reconciliation with the God of the universe, restored relationship and great reward.
  • We also can “rejoice exceedingly with great joy” by the confirmation from the light of His word, that we are facing the right way and heading in the right direction to receive, worship and bless the greatest gift that has ever been given, Christ Jesus, the Son of the living God, the Savior of the Word, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lord. May all praise, honor, glory be to His name.

 

Conclusion and Communion

  • So “rejoice exceedingly with great joy” by having watchful eyes, a worshipful heart, and wonderous anticipation of what is yet to come. “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thess 4:16-18 ESV).
  • Until then, we “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”

 

Questions for the week ahead:

  1. Is there anything that is keeping you from having “eyes that see?” If so, what can you do to change it?
  2. Is there anything that is keeping you from having a “worshipful heart?” If so, what can you do to change it?
  3. Do you “rejoice exceedingly with great joy” at the confirmation that you are facing the right way and heading in the right direction? If not, what can do you to experience this?