Good morning! We now go to the last of our sermon series this December, wherein we reflect on the events of Christ’s birth.
We’ve discussed some of the themes in the birth narratives in the past Lord’s Days. But it doesn’t mean we’ve already covered everything about Christ. There’s so much more to learn about the incarnation of the Son of God.
Nevertheless, what we learned so far is enough to show us that Christ is the fulfillment of God’s faithful promises in the Old Testament, that the incarnation shows the miraculous work of God for our salvation, that Christ is the Holy One – set apart as our perfect Mediator and that Christ is indeed the Savior.
Given all of this– now what? How do we respond to Christ?
Tuwing Christmas season, iba-iba po ang views and responses ng mga tao. Some atheists and agnostics still celebrate “Christmas” as a holiday—but it’s not about Christ. They are people who are hostile towards Christmas.
There are also those who are indifferent. Alam nila yung meaning ng Christmas. They recognize na ito’y panahon na ina-alala natin yung kapanganakan ni Cristo. But that’s all. They’re not moved by it, they don’t reflect on it, they’re not joyful about it. Tuloy lang sa pagiging busy sa trabaho, sa pamilya, sa mga party, o sa mga bakasyon. They’re indifferent towards Christmas.
But then there are those people who truly understand and embrace the essence of Christmas. They take advantage of it as a special time to reflect on the day that Christ—our Savior and Lord—was born. Bagama’t may mga handaan pa rin, may bakasyon, etc.—they’re focus is Christ. And they rejoice and worship Christ, the incarnate Son of God. These people are joyful and worship during Christmas.
And friends, we see those same responses in the story we read in Matthew 2:1-12. There are those who are hostile toward Christ; there are those who are indifferent toward Christ; and there are those who rejoice and worship Christ.
If you notice, the title of the sermon is “Born is He, the King of Kings.” But we will not discuss the kingship of Christ himself. Instead, looking at our text, we’ll see how people responded to Christ, “the newborn King,” as the wise men identified.And then we’ll end with how God wants us to respond to Christ as well.
Ngayon bago po natin tignan yung mga characters sa story at yung kanilang mga response, tignan muna natin, ano ba yung eksena dito?
V. 1 — “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem…”
The word, “behold,” signifies that this is something unusual and important. At ginagamit ‘to ni Mathew para kunin yung atensyon nung mga audience/readers niya.
Ngayon, bakit ba sila importante or unusual para kay Matthew? Sino ba ‘tong mga wise men?
Kung direct translation from Greek, it could read as “Magi,” plural ng “Magos.” Ang “Magi” (singular) po ay grupo ng mga wise men and priest sa lugar ng Ancient Persia at Babylon (modern times, Iran at Iraq). Kaya kung titingnan sa mapa, they are “from the east.”
At yung mga “Magi” ay itinuturing na mga experts especially in astrology. Pinag-aaralan nila yung mga stars and moon. It is actually the “science” in the ancient world. Ang kaibahan lang nito sa Astronomy, they also claim divine revelation dun sa mga pinag-aaralan nila.
So pastor, valid po pala yung horoscope? Hindi po. Ilang beses ko nang nabasa dun na yayaman ka kapag September ka pinanganak. Never po nagkatotoo sakin yun.
Pero yung pag-aaral po ng positions ng stars and planets in the sky—valid po yun. And I just found out na significant pala yung positions ng stars and planets. Kapag io-observe mo pala yan, may mga times at places na yung movement ng stars ay horizontal, minsan vertical, at minsan naman parang spiral. At may mga group of stars (“constellations”) na kapag ganito yung direction nila, it indicates na January na, or March na, or tag-init na ba o tag-lamig na.
So that is how the “ancient people” determined times and seasons. Malamang ito yung sinasabi ni God sa Genesis 1:14, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens… And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years…”
That is the skill of the wise men. They were experts. They can predict times and seasons. Syempre, pag-dating naman sa mga dreams, hindi authentic yung interpretations and prophecies nila gaya ng mga prophets ng Israel, pero malamang may mga times na tumatama rin. And more than science and interpretations, there are also skilled in mathematics, ancient writings, and medicine. Sila yung mga doctors, scholars, and royal advisors noon.
Kaya nga in ancient times, kapag kailangan ng advise ng hari, sila yung unang tinatawag. We witnessed that in the time of Joseph, nung nanaginip si Pharaoh, may mga tinawag siyang mga wise men para mag-interpret. Time of Moses, may mga magicians si Pharaoh. Time of Daniel, may mga wise men din yung king of Babylon.
So with all this information, we learn that these wise men are no ordinary men. They were well-recognized and highly respected people. Kinikilala sila ng mga hari. Mataas yung “social status” nila.
And it was common during that time na kapag may bagong hari ang isang kingdom, may mga bibisita na ibang royalties galing sa ibang kingdoms. Parang si President BBM lang di ba, nung siya na yung na-declare na president, may mga ibang leaders or representatives na dumalaw at nag-recognize sa kanya as the new President.
So as Matthew said, “behold, these wise men” came. And because these are important people, there must be something special going on.
At nung dumating sila, tanong nila, (verse 2) “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star rose, and have come to worship him.”
So that is the situation here: According to the wise men, a new King was born.
And how did the people respond to it?
[TRANSITION:] Ang unang makikita po natin dito ay si Herod…
A. Hostility to the King
V. 3 — “When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him…”
Of course, the last statement doesn’t mean “all citizens in Jerusalem,” but all those who are “with him,” all those who are loyal to Herod.
So Herod was troubled. He was frightened, alarmed. Hindi lang sa takot siya. Hindi siya mapakali. Balisa. Nag-panic siya.
After all, since “wise men” yung nagsabi nun, malaking chance na totoo yun. (That’s how kings viewed the wise men). And Herod was also aware of the Old Testament Scriptures about the Messiah. (Verse 3 — “he inquired where the Christ was to be born”). Alam niya na may darating na anointed “King of the Jews,” pero nabahala siya na sa time niya pala mangyayari yun.
And the question is, why was Herod troubled? That’s because of who He is.
King Herod is also known as “Herod the Great.” He’s great because of his accomplishments for Rome. Bukod sa marami siyang napatayo na public buildings, he’s a great strategist. Pag-dating sa military campaigns, magaling siya na tactician. But at the same time, Herod is known for his lust for power and authority. Ayaw niya ng may kaagaw siya sa posisyon. Yung brother-in-law niya, at kahit tatlong anak niya, pinapatay niya dahil sa mga suspicions that they are plotting against him. (Quite common naman din yun sa mga royalties dati. Even within the family, nagkakaroon ng patayan dahil agawan sa kapangyarihan).
Para kay Herod, siya lang ang dapat mag-hari.
Kaya walang problema kay Herod na ipa-patay kahit sino, mga priests man yan o kahit yung isa sa mga asawa niya. At wala siyang papalagpasin. We learn later in Matthew 2:16, nung hindi na bumalik sa kanya yung wise men, he “became furious, and he sent and killed ALL the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who are two years old and under.”
So Herod was troubled, at malamang naisip niya, “These wise men came not for me? But for someone else, to worship this Christ—not me?” Herod was hostile toward Christ—he’s like saying, “I know the Christ will come. But not in my term. This throne, this position is mine. Not yours, Jesus!”
And friends, the truth is: There are still many Herods today. It could be our family, our friends, and maybe even ourselves. In fact, lahat po tayo, yun ang default response natin kay Cristo.
I will be in authority, Lord, not you! Ako masusunod!
Many people would say:
- “I don’t want to repent, Lord! Hindi ako lalapit sa’yo. Basta masaya ako sa sinful lifestyle ko na ‘to, wala akong paki-alam sa Bible-Bible na yan.
- “Sunday is mine, Lord. I choose what to do! Ako masusunod kung pupunta ba sa ako sa church, o magta-trabaho ako, o magpapahinga, o gagala ako. It is my schedule, not yours Lord.”
- “Lord, my romantic relationships, my call. Kahit sinful relationship ‘to, kahit hindi siya Christian, kahit immoral na ‘tong relationship namin—you have no right to tell me what to do.”
Marami pang ibang but that’s one response to Christ: Hostility.
[TRANSITION]: Now, in the story, we see the second set of characters and another response to Jesus Christ…
B. Indifference to the King
V. 4 — Upon hearing the news, “assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born”
Here comes the “wise men” of Israel, the “scholars,” the supposedly “real experts” of the Scriptures. Alam nila yung mga prophecies about the Christ.
And they told him (verse 5), “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
These priests and scribes remembered God’s Word in Micah 5:1-5. (Yun po yung binasa natin kanina).
Katulad po ng ibang prophets in the Old Testament, ginamit ng Diyos si Micah para mag-announce ng judgment against Israel and Judah. Dahil sa mga kasalanan, God will punish them and bring them to exile. But the Lord also promised that soon, he will rescue his people. And specifically in Micah 5, God promised that from Bethlehem, there shall be the true ruler in Israel.
Kung iku-kumpara niyo po yung Micah 5:1-5 dun sa Matthew 2:5, summarized na lang yung citation nung priests and scribes. Binanggit halos yung buong Micah 5:2, pero yung “who will shepherd my people,” kinuha nila dun sa Micah 5:4. But in any case, it is clear that this passage in Micah 5 speaks of the promised Messiah. Dun na lang sa end of verse 2, this will be a ruler “whose coming forth is from old, from ancient days.” Meaning—he will be from eternity past. The eternal King, the true Anointed of God.
So the scribes and priests used this passage to predict the place Christ Jesus will be born. Kung dadating na nga yung “promised Messiah,” yung “true king of the Jews”—malamang, manggagaling siya sa Bethlehem.
And we could imagine, that after this, they gathered more Jews in Jerusalem, they spread the news to people—perhaps, kung may social media na nun, trending na ‘to sa Facebook and Twitter, and then there’s a long procession of both the magi, the chief priests, the scribes, and many other Jews on their way to Bethlehem to see and celebrate the “King of the Jews.”
Pero hindi yun ang makikita natin dito, right? In verses 7 onwards, we read of just the wise men going to Bethlehem to see Jesus Christ.
These chief priests, these scribes, they are well-versed with the Old Testament Scriptures. Alam nila lahat ng pwedeng malaman, during that time, patungkol sa Messiah. In fact, alam nila na ang tanging pag-asa na hinihintay ng Israel for many years and centuries ay yung Messiah. At ayan na, nandyan na yung clue, yung fulfillment nung prophecies. “Baka tama yung wise men, baka nandyan na nga yung Messiah.”
But they did nothing. They know & quoted Scriptures, yet the Scriptures didn’t change them. They’re not moved by it. They were indifferent to Christ. Wala silang paki-alam.
And friends, marami pong chief priests and scribes sa panahon natin, mga walang paki-alam kay Cristo. Alam nila yung Salita ng Diyos, kinikilala nila ang Diyos—pero yun lang. Walang effect yun sa kanila. Wala ‘tong pagbabagong idunudulot sa kanilang mga puso at buhay.
They may say:
- “Alam kong may totoong Diyos, at alam kong totoo yung Bible, pero hindi para sa’kin yan eh. Okay na kami ni Lord, magpapakabait na lang ako.”
- “Alam kong totoo yung Christianity kumpara sa ibang religion. Pero yung pupunta pa ako sa church every Lord’s Day, magco-commit pa ako sa church—hindi na siguro kailangan… Magbibigay na lang ako financial support sa church, Or a-attend na lang ako kapag birthday ko, Resurrection Sunday, Pasko, at New Year.”
- Or pwedeng nandito nga sila sa church among ourselves, you hear the word of God, but there’s no deep conviction in the heart. You hear the songs, perhaps, even sing with your lips, but there’s no joy and awe of God in the heart. You witness and experience all the means of grace here, pero pag-alis ng church, throughout the week, nothing’s changed… “Eh bakit ka pa uma-attend ng church? Wala eh, nakasanayan na eh. Wala rin naman akong gagawin sa bahay eh.”
Marami pang examples but that’s the second response to Christ: indifference.
So far, there’s hostility to Christ, there’s indifference to Christ… But now, we see the response of the wise men.
C. Joy and Worship of the King
So after learning from the chief priests and scribes, (verse 7), “Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.’”
Well, at this point, alam na natin, Herod is a tactician but a wicked one. His goal is not to worship Christ, but to kill him.
(Verse 9) “After listening to the king, they (the Magi) went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was.”
The fact na nawala for some time yung star at gumagalaw yung star, it is not a natural phenomenon. Hindi ‘to tulad nung mga stars na pinag-aaralan nila. In Exodus, God led the Israelites through a pillar of cloud and fire. So it’s not impossible for God to use something like a star to guide these wise men. Pwede rin na angel yun.
(Verse 10) “When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw [Jesus], and they fell down and worshiped him. And they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”
- Gold (most precious stone)
- Frankincense (oil used for incense or perfume)
- Myrrh (can be used for cosmetics during that time)
- These are very costly gifts. Pang royalty talaga.And this implies that Jesus is indeed the true King – not Herod or anybody else.
Now just a side note on this, binanggit po dito yung tatlong types of gifts na binigay nila kay Christ. Walang “tatlong hari.” Hindi po sila hari, “wise men.” At malamang, hindi sila tatlo lang. Galing pa sila sa labas ng Roman Empire, perhaps more than 40 days of travel. And given their high status, malamang marami yan sila, at may mga kasama pang guards.
Kaya nga po mahalaga na yung ideas natin about “Christmas” ay galing sa Bible, hindi sa traditions sa paligid natin, lalo na yung kanta na, “Nang si Cristo ay isilang, may tatlong haring nagsidalaw.” And this is why it is important, na habang nagce-celebrate ang buong mundo ng Christmas—we go back to the Scripture and let Scripture shape the way we view and celebrate it.
Now, going back to the Magi, paanong na-interpret nila na yung star na yun ay sign na pinanganak na yung “King of the Jews?”
Well, as we mentioned kanina, these wise men are scholars and experts in ancient writings. Malamang nabasa nila yung sa Numbers 24:17, yung prophecy ni Balaam na sabi ‘dun, “A star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel.”
Pero paano sila naging acquainted with Scriptures? Hindi man ka-comprehensive tulad nung mg scribes and chief priests, pero paano nila nalaman na may darating na “King of the Jews”?
Well, most likely, this is through the chief wise men in the past: the prophet Daniel. Kung babasahin niyo po yung book ng Daniel, kasama po si Daniel sa mga wise men nung kalakasan nung Babylonian and Persian empires. At malamang, sa pamamagitan niya, kumalat yung mga prophecies kahit sa mga hindi Judio na may darating na Messiah. That one day, there will be a king—the true and ultimate king—who will sit on the throne of David and execute perfect righteousness and peace on earth unlike the wicked kings.
At dito natin makikita ulit yung faithfulness ng Diyos in fulfilling his promises. Makikita naitn yung pag-unfold ng redemptive plan ng Diyos. Na sa Old testament pa lang, God did not only promise to include the Gentiles in salvation. He indeed included them and provided means, including Daniel to bring the gospel to the Gentiles. And so here, we see the Gentile wise men – not Jewish leaders – seeing Christ the Savior.
So God made known to these wise men that this child is the long-promised king, the Messiah, the Savior. Kaya ganun yung response nila at nung nakita na nila kung saan mismo sila Jesus Christ nagi-i-stay, “They rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.” Intensified yung words. Sobrang tuwa, sobrang saya. And before the child, these men—highly respected, high in status—humbled themselves, “fell down and worshiped.”
And friends, there are also people today who respond to Jesus in joy and worship like these wise men.
In their hearts and with they mouths, they would say:
- “Kahit gaano kalaki yung kasalanan ko, pinatawad ako ng Diyos dahil kay Cristo. And because of that, I’m so thankful and rejoice and follow Christ.”
- “Mahirap ang buhay Kristyano. Pero sa kabila ng mga pagsubok sa buhay, I still thank God and hope for that day that I shall see Christ face to face.”
- These people will attend the Lord’s Day and commit to the church, kahit yun lang yung araw na pahinga sila sa work, kahit ilang oras pa yung byahe nila, umulan o umaraw, they will go and worship God… At kung tatanungin mo sila, “Why do you all these things? Why read the Bible? Why follow Christ?” Ano isasagot nila, “Because Christ is my Savior and my Lord.”
Marami pang ibang examples, but these are people who respond in joy and worship of Christ katulad nung wise man.
Now brothers & sisters, as we conclude, we saw the 3 responses to Christ in this story: Some are hostile to Chist, some are indifferent, some worshiped him. And that’s the reality even today. .
Kaya ang magandang itanong po sa sarili natin: “Sino tayo dun? Do you worship him as King?”
Or are we like Herod and the Scribes, na bagama’t naririnig natin ang Salita ng Diyos patungkol kay Cristo, we hate him or don’t care at all? Friends, if you’re not yet a believer, here’s the truth, whether you recognize Christ as King or not… whether you care about Christ or not… HE IS THE KING OF KINGS AND THE LORD OF LORDS.
And the truth is: We are all terrible “Herods.” We are terrible rulers of our lives. Habang tayo ang naghahari at nasususnod sa buhay natin, we will always fail.Makikita natin yan halimbawa sa dami ng mga laing desisyon natin sa buhay.
But Christ – he is the true King. He is the King who gives life & righteousness and peace to His people.
Therefore, ask God for faith! Hingin mo sa Diyos na bigyan ka ng ganap na pang-unawa kung sino ba si Cristo, at bigyan ka ng puso na yumuyuko at nagpapasakop sa Kanya.
That’s how the Magi rejoiced and worshiped Christ. They knew Christ and believed in Him.. True knowledge of God does not result in indifference. No. True knowledge of Christ, true faith brings forth joy. True faith leads to obedience and worship. At mga magulang ko’t kapatid, we now know Christ better than the magi. More is revealed to us now.
The Word of God proclaims to us that Christ is not only the Son of God born as a baby. The child that the wise men saw did not remain as a child.
God’s Word revealed to us:
- Christ grew up and lived perfectly, obeying God’s law on our behalf.
- Christ did not only heal the sick and did miracles, but he also suffered and died on the cross for the forgiveness of all our sins.
- Christ did not only die, but rose again from the dead to give us new life and make us righteous in God’s sight.
- Christ ascended to heaven, and is now there daily, every hour, every minute, every moment interceding for us so that we are continually and surely be saved until he finally brings us home in perfect glory.
Beloved, we have so much more reasons than the wise men to rejoice and worship Christ. He is worthy of our trust. He is worthy of our worship. He is worthy of our submission. So come, let us adore and worship him, Christ the King of kings, and the Lord of Lords, Amen.
Reuel Dawal is the Minister of the Word and Sacraments at ZCRC. He was an intern prior to being ordained and installed as the church's new pastor. He is currently finishing his Biblical and Theological Studies at the Miami International Seminary (MINTS) online. He and his wife Yeng are married since 2017 and lives in Imus, Cavite.