Epiphany Jan 6, 2008 Matthew 2:12 “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?

For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him.” In the Name of Jesus. Amen. For many, Christmas is a time to travel. It certainly was for the wise men. Imagine taking a trip like they did—not knowing for certain where you are going, or where exactly you would end up. Come to think of it, many people do exactly that as they travel through life. Without the light of Christ to serve as a guide one ends up un-sure of where they are going or what their purpose is, and unable to handle the hardships encountered along the way. The wise men didn’t have that problem. Though they didn’t have the exact address, they knew where they were going, and they knew why. They were going to see Jesus, they were going to worship the newborn king; they were going to present gifts to this blessed gift sent to them from heaven. That gave them strength in their journey. It made them able to endure the hardships they encountered along the way. And it does the same for us. Certainly being a Christian does not eliminate life’s problems. In fact, contrary to what some might believe, the Christian journey through life may be more difficult due to the stumbling blocks that Satan places in our paths. Think for a moment of the difficulties you have experienced this past year—or perhaps at some other time during your life. Think of a time when the darkness of sin or death or the devil descended upon you and threatened to cause you to lose your way.
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(pause). Listen to the direction given by God through the apostle Peter —chapter 4 verse 12—“Beloved, do not be surprise at the firery ordeal among you which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the suffering of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. Rejoicing with exultation at the revelation of His glory—that is what the wise men were doing! Certainly they must have had faced obstacles on their long and arduous journey. Certainly they must have had their faith tested. But they kept following the star—they continued looking for the Christ. That is what we do as well. As Christians we have Christ and His Word to serve as a lamp unto our feet, and a light on this path. A path that leads not to the earthly Jerusalem, but to the heavenly Jerusalem, where we will one day see Jesus in all His glory. But we don’t have to wait until we get to heaven to see the glory of God —we have seen the glory of the only begotten son of God, full of grace and truth. Do you know where? The hint comes in what the wise men were looking for—“Where is he who was born king of the Jews”? This is the title given to him by Gentiles at His birth—it is also the ascription given to Him by Gentiles at His death. Remember, Pilate at the placard posted above Jesus’ head on the cross which read “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” We see the glory of God shining from the cross in the darkness of Good Friday. He is glorious, not because of His appearance, but because of His work—for He is making atonement for the sins of the world. He is scattering the darkness of sin and shattering the power of the devil! And He is doing it, for you!

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Did the magi know this would happen? We’re not told, but based on their faithful actions it is a pretty good bet that they did. Listen to verse 11: “And they came into the house and saw the child with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshipped Him; and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts.” Many people worship their children—but this worship was different. The wise men were in the presence of God, and they knew it! Like the wise men, we come into the presence of Jesus when we enter His house. I’m not talking about making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land I’m talking about this house. The one we visit on Sundays. At Christmas time we gathered in our homes to exchange gifts with our family. That is what we do here on Sunday. We gather together in God’s house to receive the gifts He has given us. Gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit working through the Word. Gifts that sometimes seem to be wrapped in very plain packaging—like the Word and Sacraments--gifts of forgiveness, the promise of eternal life, and love and joy and peace. We gather here in God’s house to do as the wise men did—to worship Jesus. But we gather not at the small feet of a child, but at the pierced feet of our crucified savior. But note what the wise men did as part of their worship—they rejoiced as they presented gifts to Jesus. They gave the best they had to give. And that is what we are called to do as well. To rejoice in the presence of God as we receive His presents, and present ours to Him.

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Today we are filled with joy at the occasion of Kaden Bauder’s baptism. Beginning today God will be guiding him through his life’s journey. But for as wonderful as this is, there is even greater reason to rejoice—like the wise men of old, we have been led to the Christ, who in turns leads us on our way, and one day will lead us to heaven. Amen.

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