Happy New Year Every One! This is Kerr, welcome to Gospel Home Brew, a resource from River City Spokane. May the Word of God brew in you as we live in this new Year.
For the last five weeks we have journeyed through the Advent and Christmas season. You have heard from men about waiting, preparing, rejoicing, loving, and beholding Jesus. We hope that these podcasts have stirred your heart to prize Jesus more. As advent culminates in Christmas, Christmas culminates in Epiphany. Which means “manifestation” or “showing forth.”
Open your Bibles to two sections of Scripture and lets read them together. They are Isaiah 60: 1-6 and Matthew 2:1-11:
Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.
Lift up your eyes all around, and see;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from afar,
and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and exult,
because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men[a] from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose[b] and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “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.’”
Then 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.” After listening to the king, they 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. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
I know these are two huge sections to look at in only ten minutes. And there is no way we can delve into all the things here. But, before we jump in to these I would like to confess something to you: I am a sinner, that desperately needs Jesus. This advent season has spoken to me in ways that actually have been hard to swallow. I am actually writing this podcast teaching, in the midst of this confession. The other night my sinfulness was made manifest right before my family. This is hard to admit, but I feel like the Lord has been showing me something, and wants me to share this. For some reason I have been dealing with anger, or it is better said that I let anger defeat me.
I could make excuses, but there is no excuse. I sinned by letting anger rule my heart. I got so angry, not at my kids or my wife, but with myself. I was so angry that I walked downstairs in my basement and lost it. After this, I walked back upstairs to see tears in my wife’s eyes and my oldest and second youngest crying. It broke me.
They thought that my anger was because of them. This was the first time it came out like this. My wife, Meghan, made a decision to take the kids to the grocery store to give me time to deal with whatever was going on with me. The kids did not want to leave because they thought that mommy did not want to be with daddy, and this was true, but they thought it meant the worse. I assured them that daddy would pray and spend time with Jesus and that daddy loved them and loved mommy. When they left I instantly broke and cried. And the words that came out of my mouth where, “Jesus I Adore you, kill this in me before it kills me.” I prayed and confessed and clung to the cross and what Jesus means to me for about an hour before they returned. I sat them all down told them I was sorry and confessed that what I did was wrong. All my children said, “daddy, I forgive you.”
Why would I open this podcast brew with this story?
Two reasons. One, I am a broken man that needs Jesus. Two, because in that moment all I could offer Jesus was this brokenness. After, they went to bed. I felt Jesus in a strong and intimate way. I heard him say in my soul, “Son this is why I came. Adoring me does not mean you will love me perfectly. Adoring me means you will joyfully, even when it hurts, ascribe authority and dignity to me with sacrificial gifts.” The only gift, I had that night was filthy lips, dirty hands, and a dark heart. And He loved that gift. His love liberated me from anger.
The focus word for this weeks teaching is Adore. This word does not show up in scripture, but the idea and act does. So I looked up the word to see what it means. The word adore means “to love with the highest degree, to regard with the utmost esteem and affection.” In Scripture this was displayed by the taking off of Moses shoes or David prostrating Himself. And one thing is true about both of these Bible characters: They were wretched sinners and needed a great Savior (and the same is true about me and you). Both of these acts were the admission of these facts.
Adoring Jesus, or prizing Jesus above all things, does not mean we will do this perfectly. Lets admit it, Christians do not worship, prize, love, or adore our Jesus perfectly. If that where true about me I would not have made this confession.
Epiphany is us celebrating the good news of the coming of God the Son for sinners.
God came in the flesh!
God united His perfectness with our sinfulness.
God became human!
And these two scriptures that we read are all about this. In Isaiah, God is revealing to us his plan (coming Himself) and our response (Trusting In Him). And we see this become reality in the story of the Magi in Matthew 2. Though the identity of the Magi still to this day remains a mystery, Matthew reveals something huge. Whoever the Magi were (astrologers or kings) is not most important. What is important is that they were Gentiles—pagans. And when these pagans saw the star, they left everything that had and knew to follow it, for they recognized it as the sign of the Messiah. As one author stated:
They recognized not only for the religious people (the Jews), but for the heathen Gentiles (that’s us) as well…They recognized Jesus Christ as the one to whom they owed their ultimate allegiance.” The story of the coming Magi to the toddler Jesus was God’s covenantal relationship with Israel that becomes available to all people. He came for the nations, not just a nation. He came for the broken, the wounded, the angry, the prideful, the hurt, the lonely, the dirty, the rich, the poor, the Jews, and the pagans. He came for everyone! God’s gift was the gift for the all peoples. The light came so all could see and adore.
Most of the time, the focus of the Magi story is the gifts. But, I believe Matthew’s focus was the coming of pagans to their Messiah and the way they responded. They “fell down and worship him,” then they presented Him with gifts. These gifts were not gifts of need, but intensifiers of desire for Jesus Himself. I have heard sermon after sermon about what the gifts represented. Gold displayed Jesus as King. Frankincense displayed Jesus as High Priest. Myrrh displayed Jesus as the Ultimate Sacrifice. And I believe this to be true. But, I think the beauty of the story is that the Magi gave Jesus what they had, what they prized most. It was them saying, “we have pursued you and not the things you can give us. We have not come to you for things, but for yourself. And our desire for you we demonstrate by giving up things we hold dear. And we say, ‘You are our treasure and not these things.'”
What are the things you feel Jesus is asking you to give to Him so that you can enjoy (adore) Him? What do you treasure most? For me, it is giving up my anger, pride, and image. For some it may be your money. For some it may be you self-righteousness. For some it may call for huge sacrifice. For all of us, we will not do it perfectly, but with Him it can be done. The main call of Epiphany is that we give up ourselves, to have Him. And it may take dark moments for us to see.
God became flesh and live among us!
He has came so that we do see and adore Him above all things. Because compared to Him, nothing comes close.
God became a man for you!
He knows you!
He can say, “Me too!”
He knows your darkness, your sinfulness, your shame, your failings, your mistakes, your struggles, you hurts, your abuse, and he is not at all ashamed of coming for you or saving you.
God came in the flesh for you!
He wants you to see Him.
He is not hiding! He shines brightly! He has come, and risen to call you to himself. He is calling you to come as you are. Give Him what you have. And see Him for who He truly is for you.
He paid for your sins! He knows your agony. He came so that you can be known by Him. He is not ashamed for what it took to save you and forgive you. He loves you and desires for you to see Him for who He truly is: Your treasure!
May the zeal of the Magi stir you to pursue Jesus, and giving Him what you have, so that you display to the world that these things you have and share are not your treasure, but Jesus is. Lets do this together and lets us know and enjoy God more this year. I am just like you. Come let us adore Him, because He loves us more than we can imagine.