The Wise Men’s Worship

Matthew 2:1-12 | Sermon Resources | 1 January 2023

Sermon Summary

Pastor Dave will open the new year with a sermon from Matthew. We are week early for the Orthodox celebration of epiphany, marking the day when the wise men visited the baby Jesus in Jerusalem, but I thought it was fitting to preach on this passage because we are launching the Bible Reading plan on Sunday, and Matthew 2 is in Monday’s reading. The story of the wise men and the Christ child has become a worldwide phenomenon. A number of years ago when Ginny and I took a retreat in Thailand, we were surprised to find painted inside one small chapel a scene with three Thai astrologers on elephants heading to Bethlehem. Over the centuries, many have speculated that there were three wise men based on the three gifts mentioned in our passage from Matthew. In his best-selling novel Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ, General Lew Wallace imagined these each of these wise men coming from a different country. Yet despite there being three gifts mentioned, it is very unlikely that there were only three in their company. It was customary when traveling such great distances to travel with large numbers of attendants and guards for protection on such a journey. For example, when Nehemiah the cupbearer to the king of Persia was granted permission to go to Jerusalem, the king sent him with officers of the army and horsemen (Nehemiah 2:9). But this Sunday, I want to focus our attention on what is more certain from the text, and some applications for our lives today. First, the news of Jesus is troubling. Second, the news of Jesus is for all nations. Third, the news of Jesus should lead us to worship.

Discussion Questions

  1. What most struck you in the sermon this week?
  2. Do we know that there were only 3 wise men? Is it likely that they came to the manger on the same night as the shepherds?
  3. How was and is the news of the birth of Jesus troubling?
  4. Why do you think no one from the religious community offered to guide the wise men to Bethlehem?
  5. Have you missed any opportunities to honor Jesus at home or in your neighborhood or workplace?
  6. Christian evangelism has increased from 46% of the world population in 1900 to 72% today. Is it still important to send missionaries? Why or why not?
  7. Why do you think some denominations have emphasized worship with the mind to the exclusion of worship with the body? How might different bodily positions aid in magnifying God’s various attributes?
  8. Romans 12:1 says that we are, “to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” What does that involve?
  9. Pastor Dave mentioned James Boice’s sermon The Gifts of Faith in which myrrh, incense, and gold point to faith in Jesus’s burial (John 19:39) and atoning death, the fruit of good works and charity (Hebrews 13:16), and submission to Jesus’s kingly rule (Revelation 21:24). Which gift of faith do you need to focus on?

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