Isaiah 60: 1-6; Ephesians 3: 1-12; Matthew 2: 1-12
Pearl: Perseverance in following the Lord’s leading.
Function: For worshippers to resolve to follow through like the ancient Magi on the prompting of the Lord in this new year of life.
God provided a unique celestial sign that captured the attention of the “Three Wise Men.”
1. We don’t actually know that there were three. That is assumed from the three gifts that were given—gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
a. Indeed these were appropriate gifts for the Christ Child. Gold for a king. Frankincense used in the worship of a god. Myrrh was embalming oil. The gifts revealed aspects of who Jesus was and would be. They also fulfilled prophecy in Isaiah.
2. There were likely more than three “wise men.” Scripture suggests that this visit of the Magi was significant enough that it upset Herod and all of the people of Jerusalem. It was a caravan of visitors who accompanied the Magi.
3. Who these “Magi” were is not precisely known. They may have been scholars, priests, kings, diviners, or astrologers.
a. What is significant is that they were Gentiles possibly of Persian, Indian, and Arabian descent.
b. Wherever they were from there was this aura of exotic intrigue about them.
c. It is easy to understand how they caught the attention of all of Jerusalem.
4. These foreigners from distant lands were sufficiently impressed by what they saw in the “stars” that they commenced upon a pilgrimage to see this “new-born King of the Jews.” They interrupted their lives very significantly to see the child of wonder.
5. Their journey may have taken up to two years time. Our image of the “wise men” at the manger is unlikely to be true. Why else would Herod have given the vicious directive that all children two years old and under be slain (Matt. 2:16)? Since the scriptures read that they entered “a house” to worship the child, it is likely that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus lived in a more substantial home by the time of the Magi visit.
The visitors from afar followed a “sign” from the Lord. Similarly, we should also follow the Lord’s “stars” (his promptings and leadings).
It was no small thing for the Magi to make this journey. And it had to change the course of their lives for a significant time.
1. I want to recognize their “follow-through” today.
2. Leonardo Da Vinci was commissioned to paint the “Adoration of the Magi” for the altar in a monastery near Florence, Italy.
a. Even though this painting was never finished it is recognized in the art world as one of his most important works.
b. Da Vinci had a reputation for not finishing commissioned works. It is said that Da Vinci would devote months to the concept and composition of the work but dreaded the actual work of carrying out the painting.
c. Apparently Da Vinci struggled with “follow-through.”
3. The Magi did not struggle with follow-through. The Lord beckoned them and they changed their lives to respond.
When the Lord prompts us, reveals to us a mission, gives us an assignment, respond like the Magi and do what is necessary to faithfully respond.
1. What is the Lord showing you? What is the prompting he is giving to you?
a. Some churches make it a habit in the Epiphany season to promote certain missionary works which their congregation supports. The idea of the light being taken to the Gentiles is their inspiration to do this.
b. Near to the beginning of the year when we think of resolutions we also think of plans that we would like to carry out in the New Year.
c. Many of the plans that we would like to make come from the Lord. He guides us and inspires us in new ways.
2. What are the promptings God is giving to Highland?
a. Several of your brothers and sisters are being ordained and installed to serve in leadership today. They are following the prompting of the Lord.
b. You are committed to helping people through the “Threads of Hope” Clothing Ministry. Keep up this very good work. Out of compassion for others you do this. This follows the heart of the Lord Jesus.
c. Many of you are continually prompted to attend to the beautiful campus of your church and your cemetery—how it is maintained and how it can be a pleasing testimony to the Lord to the surrounding community.
d. You are keenly interested in the plight of American Indians and continue to provide a week of your lives for the Porcupine Presbyterian Church and the children and their families who live nearby.
e. You are receiving promptings to look at how you can take your nurture of your children to a new level.
f. Your Pastor Nominating Committee is diligently working to discern the Lord’s leading in providing the next Installed Pastor to lead your fine congregation. Please continue or start anew to back them up in faithful and fervent prayer.
g. One of you came to Session recently to urge Highland to consider ways to welcome and support Syrian refugees who are seeking a new home and a new life in the U.S.
h. Highland is being prompted to be a “House of Prayer”—the Memorial Prayer Garden, Healing Prayer Ministry, and the newly designated Prayer Room are some ways in which this is coming about.
3. The Spirit of the Lord is stirring your hearts and minds gently but consistently in many ways beyond some of what I suggested.
The visitors from the East changed their lives to follow this heavenly sign from God. They packed up and took a journey, following through on their prompting!
1. Even more than the Magi, you should follow the promptings of the Lord. After all, you are already committed Christ followers.
2. There will certainly be challenges to following the Lord’s leading. It must not have been an easy trip for the Magi. It took many days, even months, if not a year or more out of their lives to look into this amazing sign.
a. Like the Magi, you will have to persevere through the challenges.
3. It turns out Da Vinci may not have finished the painting of the Magi on purpose. The financial arrangements for the painting were against him from the start. The monks’ promised payment was a third of some land the monastery had received in a bequest, but they stipulated that Da Vinci couldn’t sell it for three years following the completion of the painting unless he sold it back to the monks for a price set in their favor. Attached to the land was a legacy of 150 florins, which Da Vinci was supposed to repay to the monastery in installments. When the first installment came due he had no money to pay it, and, in fact, had to request an advance from the monks so he could keep working. Da Vinci was also required to provide, at his own expense, all of the paint and gold used on the painting. The commission even included a penalty clause where Da Vinci lost everything he’d invested if the painting were not finished on schedule.
a. I am disappointed in the monks! I don’t blame Da Vinci for not following through. I am amazed he went as far as he did.
b. Da Vinci’s work was so good, though, that others finished it. Such is the case in the church. Truly inspired missions will be realized.
The Lord is prompting his followers all of the time to do many good works in accord with the Way of Jesus, and in order to share the light of Christ.
You are not “curious star followers;” you are committed “Christ followers.” In the dawn of this brand new year resolve to follow through on the promptings of your Lord Jesus Christ—promptings to build up, to heal, to restore, to provide—all in the name of the Savior!