After Christmas

Christ Is Christmas Series

1

Sermon Audio:

Sermon Notes: Matthew 2:1-2 (KJV)  Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,  [2]  Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

Every year we have the excitement that leads up to Christmas Day. The crowds. The shopping. Black Friday after Thanksgiving, and the numerous merchant sales promoting the “savings” to be had if we but buy from them. I heard one product advertised:

One of the best buys by far, so buy now!

Then after Christmas the numerous 50% off sales at the stores. The “guests” we had for Christmas go home, and we go back to our lives. If we ignored Jesus before, we ignore Him now. Too many put Jesus away until the next Holiday we call Easter. I think you do yourself a disservice if you live your life this way. Jesus is more than just Christmas. Jesus is for every day. Jesus is the greatest Friend you will ever have. Christmas celebrates His entrance into the world. But once He entered the world we need to understand He did so for us. Jesus came for us.

Tonight I want to talk about After Christmas, after Christ came into the world. The last few weeks we have been seeing the Christmas story, the birth of Christ of a virgin, born in Bethlehem. Tonight we’re going to see Jesus after Christmas, and those visitors who came after the night of His birth. We’re going to talk about the Wise Men from the East, and the idiot in the Palace.

The Wise Men Came AFTER The Birth Of Christ

Many people don’t understand this. They take the account of His birth from Luke and try to merge it with the account of Matthew. As a result the story – and an important story it is – has been hidden from most people. Let’s compare some things between these two stories.

  • Both the Shepherds of Luke and the Wise Men of Matthew saw Christ in Bethlehem. That’s true. But they did not see each other. Look at the accounts:

Matthew 2:11 (KJV) {the Wise Men} saw the YOUNG CHILD WITH MARY his mother …

Luke 2:16 (KJV)  And {the Shepherds} came with haste, and found MARY, AND JOSEPH, AND THE BABE…

When the Wise Men came they found Jesus with Mary, but did not see Joseph. When the Shepherds came they saw Mary, Joseph, and Jesus lying in a manger. They didn’t see one another. Nor should they.

  • Though both Shepherds and Wise Men saw Jesus in Bethlehem, they saw Him in a different place. The Bible says:

Luke 2:16 (KJV)  And {the Shepherds} came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe LYING IN A MANGER.

Matthew 2:11 (KJV)  And when {the Wise Men} WERE COME INTO THE HOUSE, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, …

The Shepherds found Jesus laying in a manger, an animal’s feeding trough in a place where animals were kept. Why? There was no room in the house proper for Christ because of the crowd in Bethlehem during the census. But the Wise Man found Jesus in a house, not in a barn. No manger is mentioned because He is no longer in the manger.

  • Though both Shepherds and Wise Men followed a sign sent by God to the Christ, they followed different signs. Again looking at the Scripture:

Matthew 2:2 (KJV) {The Wise Men asked} Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for WE HAVE SEEN HIS STAR in the east, and are come to worship him.

Matthew 2:9-10 (KJV)  When {the Wise Men} had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.  [10]  When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

The Wise Men followed a star from the East to where Christ was. This was a supernatural sign from God as the star moved, then “stood over where the young child was”. What of the Shepherds? The Angel told them:

Luke 2:12 (KJV)  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe WRAPPED IN SWADDLING CLOTHES, LYING IN A MANGER.

Swaddling clothes” are bands of cloth wrapped tightly around a child, used to keep the child snug and safe. The swaddling helps the child transition from the womb, and keeps the baby from scratching himself with his fingernails.

The child was swaddled because the child was loved.
But the enigma is that this loved Baby was “lying in a manger”.

If you love your child, you want the best for your child. You want a crib, a warm room, a clean place. But Christ was laid in a manger, a place where animals ate. He was laid here not because His mother did not love Him, but because this was all they had. The Wise Men followed a star, but the Shepherds followed an enigma. They followed different signs.

  • The Wise Men and the Shepherds looked for a different Christ. Yes, this was the same Jesus, but He was represented differently to both groups of men. The Shepherds were told:

Luke 2:11 (KJV)  For unto you is born this day in the city of David A SAVIOR, which is CHRIST THE LORD.

The Shepherds looked for a Savior when they went looking for Christ. Yet the Wise Men did not look for a Savior, but a King. They asked:

Matthew 2:2 (KJV)  Saying, WHERE IS HE THAT IS BORN KING OF THE JEWS? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

They looked for a King to worship, the “King of the Jews”. When Jesus was first born, He was born to be King of the Jews. But He was not yet King of the Jews. Why is this? Because Jesus had not yet been circumcised when the Shepherds saw Him, and no person, no matter who, could be “King of the Jews” until they were first circumcised. Matthew goes on to talk of this in …

Luke 2:20-24 (KJV)  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.  [21]  And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.  [22]  And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;  [23]  (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)  [24]  And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

The Bible tells us that our Lord Jesus:

Galatians 4:4-5 (NKJV) But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, BORN UNDER THE LAW, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

Christ the Messiah was born under the Law so He could redeem us from the Law. Being born “under the Law” his mother and stepfather had to follow the Law. What did the Law say about children and their mothers? We read in:

Leviticus 12:1-4;6-7 (NKJV) Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘If a woman has conceived, and borne a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days; as in the days of her customary impurity she shall be unclean. 3 And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. 4 She shall then continue in the blood of her purification thirty-three days. She shall not touch any hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary until the days of her purification are fulfilled. … 6 ‘When the days of her purification are fulfilled … she shall bring to the priest a lamb of the first year as a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove as a sin offering, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 7 Then he shall offer it before the Lord, and make atonement for her. And she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who has borne a male or a female.

Mary was unclean according to the Law for 7 days after the birth of Christ.
On the eighth day Christ was to be circumcised
as all Hebrew Males were circumcised.
Then for 33 more days Mary was considered unclean
and excluded from the Temple,
at the end of which time a sacrifice was made
“to make atonement for her uncleanness”.

Mary was not exempt from the Law of Moses and neither was Christ. The Baby was circumcised on the eighth day just as all Hebrew Males were circumcised. If Christ were not circumcised then what God told Moses was:

Genesis 17:14 (NKJV) And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, THAT PERSON SHALL BE CUT OFF FROM HIS PEOPLE; he has broken My covenant.”

When you understand what is going on you understand two very important truths in the Christmas Story.

  • First, Mary and Joseph remained in Bethlehem after the birth of Christ because Mary was considered unclean and had to be purified, and Christ had to be circumcised.

Mary was unclean because of her delivery of the Child according to the Law. The Child had to be circumcised and Mary’s uncleanness had to be atoned in the Temple. Nazareth was about 92 miles away from the Temple of Jerusalem, but Bethlehem was only about 5 miles away. The Law required that Mary and Joseph do certain things in the Temple. As a person walks about 3 miles an hour, both Mary and Joseph could walk to Jerusalem in about 2 easy hours while they were in Bethlehem. That would not be true if they came from Nazareth, the place they both lived.

Mary and Joseph had to stay in Bethlehem about 40 days
So they could fulfill the Law as God required.
The Wise Men could not bring gifts to the King of the Jews
Until He was circumcised.
He could not be King of the Jews until He was circumcised.
No matter Whose Son He was.

  • Second, God was not done with Bethlehem. We must see the evil Herod killing babies to understand how bad people can be without Christ.

People without Christ will eventually sink into doing some of the most awful things. There is hardly a day goes by that I don’t hear some liberal confused individual talk about the inherent goodness of people. We are not inherently good. We are all sinners who need a Savior. We are all in desperate need on the King of Kings in our lives.

When God Came Into The World He Placed Himself UNDER Time And Law

When the Wise Men came seeking “The King of the Jews” they knew He would be in Bethlehem, the City of David. They knew this because they had studied the Hebrew Scriptures, the same Scriptures that Herod – the false king of the Jews – would not read.

In the Old Testament a young man by the name of Daniel was taken into captivity in Babylon. Though Daniel was a stranger in a strange land he continued to love and serve our Father.

God spoke to Daniel and told him of the coming Messiah, and Daniel – a Chief Wise Man in the Palace of Babylon – shared his knowledge of Christ with the other Wise Men. I am sure Daniel also shared the other Scriptures relating to the Messiah, such as His birthplace:

Micah 5:2 (NKJV) But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.

And the fact that a Star would lead them to Christ:

Numbers 24:17 (NKJV) I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A STAR shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel, And batter the brow of Moab, And destroy all the sons of tumult.

The Wise Men came to see Jesus in Bethlehem because Daniel had been faithful in sharing the Gospel. Though over 400 years had passed since Daniel’s time in Babylon, the seed of the Gospel he planted continued to grow. The Wise Men (and Beloved, we do not know how many Wise Men went to see Jesus) headed to Bethlehem at least 8 days after Christ’s birth carrying gifts for our Lord and His Family.

When God entered the world through Mary He placed Himself inside His creation.
The God Who created gravity subjected Himself to gravity.
The God Who formed the Laws of Physics placed Himself under those Laws.

As I preach I see behind you a clock, the second hand sweeping, the minute and hour hands moving.

  • God is outside of eternity, outside of time. Until He created the Sun and the Moon and gave this planet a 24 hour cycle there was no time. There is no time in Heaven, for there is no sun nor moon in Heaven. The light of Heaven comes from the Eternal Throne of God. We are creatures on time, but God is not. God is outside of time. But with His entrance in Christ He made Himself a part of time.
  • God is outside suffering. Yet God lowered Himself into the pool of suffering that is humanity. I am sure He cried when He was circumcised. I am sure He bled. I know He bled on the Cross as He suffered for our sins. Oh how God loves us.
  • God is outside the Law. The Law was made for sinful man, to convince us that we are sinners. The Apostle Paul said:

Romans 7:7-25 (NLT) … it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.” 8 But sin used this command to arouse all kinds of covetous desires within me! If there were no law, sin would not have that power. 9 At one time I lived without understanding the law. But when I learned the command not to covet, for instance, the power of sin came to life, 10 and I died. So I discovered that the law’s commands, which were supposed to bring life, brought spiritual death instead. 11 Sin took advantage of those commands and deceived me; it used the commands to kill me. 12 But still, the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good. 13 But how can that be? Did the law, which is good, cause my death? Of course not! Sin used what was good to bring about my condemnation to death. So we can see how terrible sin really is. It uses God’s good commands for its own evil purposes. 14 So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin.

The Law was given to show us as sinners. Mary had a Baby, and though this Baby was Christ, a Child without sin, she herself still had to make sacrifice for her sin. By the killing of an innocent animal Mary cleansed herself. God did not make the Law for Himself, but coming into humanity Christ lowered Himself to the Law. He kept the Law perfectly, and never sinned. He did this so that He could save His people from their sins. He stands outside the quicksand of sin, and holding out His hand, draws whosoever will to the Island of His Love. Oh Beloved, how God lowered Himself.

So at least 8 days after Christmas – the birth of Christ – Mary looks up to see the Wise Men.

Joseph is not with her perhaps because she is yet unclean. Or maybe he’s out working. I don’t know. I do know that Christ has been circumcised, and Mary stays with Him her precious Child. They are in Bethlehem. How do I know? The Wise Men came seeking Christ, and Herod sent them to Bethlehem. They are still in Bethlehem because God is not finished there.

Matthew 2:8 (KJV)  And {Herod} sent {the Wise Men} to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

Herod had no desire to worship Jesus, or he would have went with the Wise Men. Herod was a fool. He was a narcissist. He occupied a throne that was clearly not his. Like most usurpers he wanted to keep what he had connived and stolen and cheated to get. “You go find Jesus, then come get me, and we’ll have a worship party! Trust me” the liar lied. So the Wise Men went to Bethlehem, and there – following His Star – they found Jesus.

Matthew 2:10-11 (KJV)  When {The Wise Men} saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.  [11]  And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

Listen to this little poem I wrote:

The Wise Men came to Bethlehem
After Christmas Day;
Looking for a King they found
The One Who was the Way.
Upon seeing Jesus they fell down
And worshipped Him as God.
Though miles they came it was worth
Every step that they had trod.
Weary but refreshed they loved Him,
And gave this King their all;
The Greatest Treasure given that day,
Was this Child Who would save us from the Fall.

I have heard and preached myself that the gifts were symbolic, gifts worthy of a King. This is so true.

  • Frankincense was used in the Temple to symbolize the prayers of the saints going upward to God, a gift most useful to priests. Jesus Christ came to be our High Priest:

Hebrews 4:14 (NLT) So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe.

This young Christ would grow up to be our High Priest, the One Who represents us before the Father. Frankincense is a worthy gift for our High Priest.

  • Myrrh was used to embalm the dead. Jesus would not only be our High Priest, but would die for our sins as the Lamb of God. Jesus said:

John 10:11 (NLT) I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.

John 10:18 (NLT) No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”

On the day that Jesus died they offered Him wine drugged with myrrh (Mark 15:23) but He refused it. He took the full penalty for my sin and yours on the Cross of Calvary. When they came to embalm Jesus they took about 75 pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh (John 19:39). Myrrh was a wonderful gift to bring this King Who died for me.

  • Gold was a wonderful gift for a King. The Temple was laced with gold, and thrones were clad with gold.

The Wise Men brought King Jesus gold, frankincense, and myrrh after Christmas. Herod, on the other hand, sent to Christ lies, ridicule, and death. After Christmas Herod sent soldiers to Bethlehem to kill Jesus, but God sent Joseph and Mary out of that place and into Egypt. In Egypt the Father protected His Son until Herod was dead.

The King of Kings could not leave this earth until He accomplished all the Father would have Him do.

After Christmas.

I love you.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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