Genuine & Pretend Followers of the Messiah

(audio sermon by Gary Sampson)

At the original Christmas King Herod attacked the Messiah, the Jewish Leaders cared little for the Messiah, but the Gentile Magi searched for him, worshipped him, and defended him. What do we do at Christmas?

Speakers notes follow –

Genuine & Pretend Followers of the Messiah

Matthew 2: 1-12

Top 6 Billboard Christmas songs – ①White Christmas (Crosby) ②Let it Snow (Vaughn Monroe) ③Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer (Gene Autry) ④The Christmas Song (King Cole Trio) ⑤All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth (Spike Jones) ⑥I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (Jimmy Boyd) – none mention Jesus.

Attitude ‘Why ruin Christmas by mentioning Jesus?’ – Some people attend church at Christmas only, recognizing connection – then run

What is a genuine + pretend follower of Messiah? Herod not genuine – Magi from East were.

To understand, set scene – but like the songs – it needs fixing!

Disney scene – 3 kings on camels – black, red, white – Gaspar, Belthasar, Melchior – at stable – baby manger – shepherds

Biblical scene – Magi (royal advisors) – Persian (Indian look) – numerous – nameless – armed escort – led to house – months after birth – child 6-18 months – Ezra 5 months – Herod expect under 2 yrs

Now – Genuine + Pretend Followers of Messiah –

Herod – Pretend Follower

King of Jews – to be example – hope in Messiah – King of kings

Paranoid – Idumean (Edomite) Esau not Israel – Rome appointed – built temple for favour – killed fam + priests

Armed escort rides in asking for new born king!

Herod troubled, disturbed, alarmed – exceedingly – Jerusalem alarmed knowing Herod

Gathers priests + teachers – birthplace – ‘where mm?’ – didn’t know!

Magi in secret – ‘so when mm? Oh so under two?’

Find him – l’ll join you – our hope is in Messiah’

Teachers pretend followers too – don’t protect Messiah – or care enough to go see (8 miles) – indifferent

Christmas – some hostile (Herod) – some indifferent (Teachers)

Black Christmas tree, satanist (hostile) – Nyali City Mall tree, windows – silent about Jesus – Whats more dangerous?

Cultural Christianity – tradition without real belief – a killer – give people something powerless to keep them occupied – look at Europe

Magi – Genuine Followers

Advisors to kings, position, wealth, home comforts – travel desert months seeking Messianic King – serious

Magi saw star in direction of Israel – took as star of Messiah – Nu 24.17 ‘A star will come out of Jacob, a sceptre (ruler) will rise out of Israel’

How did they know? Persians conquered Babylon – influence of Jewish exiles – Daniel led advisors, Esther queen, Mordecai 2nd to king, Cyrus ordered rebuild – they were ready for the star

What people put on top Christmas tree – Etsy.com – owl, mermaid Wonder-woman, George Michael, Frankenstein, Witches hat – most buy star or angel – now tradition – but both announced Jesus

Star appears in sky, goes ahead, stops over house – as angel with flashlight – can translate ‘great radiance’ – like pillar of fire was

Attitude + heart of Magi –

Arrive Jewish capital expecting rejoicing – cold reception

Sent Bethlehem overjoyed as star stops – see child – bow in humility + reverence – generous in royal gifts – gold, frankincense, myrrh

They don’t have great biblical knowledge of Jewish teachers but do right with little they do know – all about heart

Finally they defend Messiah ‘And receiving an answer to their asking, they were divinely instructed and warned in a dream not to go back to Herod’ (AMP)

They return to own country – likely spread the news like shepherds did few months earlier

Genuine followers – seek, overjoyed, worship, give, defend – is that you at Christmas?

Popular Christmas song ‘I’ll be home for Christmas’ – Crosby – WW2 – ‘I’ ll be home for Christmas. You can plan on me. Please have snow and mistletoe, and presents by the tree’

Easy to promise make – hard to keep – in army its wishful thinking

But Christmas is actually about a promise kept

‘A star will come out of Jacob, a scepter will rise out of Israel’ (Nu 24.17

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel’ (Is 7.14)

‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end’ (Is 9. 6-7)

God kept his promise – will he do it again – will Jesus come again? We have more reason to believe after the first coming.

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