Tuesday, January 7, 2014

TRUE WORSHIP (Matthew Chapter 2)

We were created to worship our creator.  It is in worship of Him that we fulfill the purpose for our existence and find true meaning in life.  The obstacle to worship is sin and the rebellious estate we have inherited as a result of the fall of man.  But God has worked ever since to transform rebels into worshippers and we find such an example in Matthew chapter 2.

The chapter focuses on the account of the “magi from the east” (Matthew 2:1) who came from afar to worship the newborn King of the Jews.  Who were these men?  The NASB provides this note regarding them: “Pronounced may-ji, a caste of wise men specializing in astrology, medicine, and natural science.”  In this respect their role was akin to that to which Daniel was appointed centuries beforehand.  It is possible and likely that their predecessors first learned of a coming King of the Jews through him.

They were not kings, but Babylonian “king-makers.”  It is amazing that God would call these Gentiles from that faraway place to acknowledge the birth of the new born King!  There were undoubtedly more than three, since when the king heard of their presence in Jerusalem “he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him” (Matthew 2:3).   The thought of three is but a tradition likely rooted in the three-fold gifts.

They came to worship the King of the Jews, but how were they to find Him?  Their journey transversed hundreds of miles—through “field and fountain, moor and mountain.”  They had no knowledge of His exact whereabouts and no GPS to direct them.  But God provided for them a star.  It was no ordinary star.  They saw it “in the east” (Matthew 2:2).  As they sought out the baby Jesus in Jerusalem the star “went on before them, until it came stood over where the Child was” (Matthew 2:9).  That star led them to Jesus.

Any would be worshiper in this age is likewise dependent on God’s help in the matter of worship.  No one ventures on that journey apart from God’s intervention.  True worship demands a change of heart and unveiling of the truth.  The Holy Spirit is the worship leader—He is the “star” that leads us to the Savior.  His ministry is to open the eyes of lost sinners to the glory of the Savior and His gospel (Cf. John 16:8-11, 14; 2 Corinthians 4:4-6).  He changes hearts and then fills and overflows them praise and thanksgiving (Cf. Ephesians 5:18-21).

The worship of the magi involved extraordinary sacrifice.  They left their comfortable homes.  They endured a dangerous and arduous journey.  They were alone in what they were doing.  The apathetic religious leaders knew of the birth-place of Jesus, but shared no desire to worship (Cf. Matthew 2:4-6).  The faced the threat of a wicked king.  King Herod feigned worship, but plotted the Newborn’s death (Matthew 2:8, 16-18).  They sacrificed by imparting great gifts to Jesus.  “They fell down and worshiped Him; and opened their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).  Their gifts served to acknowledge His identity as God (frankincense; Matthew 1:23), King (gold; Matthew 2:2), and Savior (myrrh; Matthew 1:21).

True worship involves sacrifice.  God calls upon the recipients of His mercies to “present (their) bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1; Cf. 2 Corinthians 4:14-15; 8:5).  We can learn a lot from these wise men.  They “rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” when they saw the star and were led to the Savior (Matthew 2:10).  True, Spirit-led, worship leads us to do the same (1 Peter 1:8b).

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