25 Dec 2018

Stargazer [Matthew 2:1-12]


Stars are signs for direction and time. But God used a special star to guide wise men to Jesus His Son. Today, God may also be guiding you to know His Son, Jesus Christ. Come and find out why wise men sought to worship Jesus and why they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy when they saw the star. May God bless you with that same great joy too! Check out this sermon on how you can do so today.


Sermon Transcript

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I was in Japan some three weeks ago, I remember looking up into the skies and seeing some beautiful bright stars, something you don't see here in Singapore. And the Bible tells us, stars are made by God to be signs for us, signs for times and also signs, signs for direction. But some 2000 years ago, there was, there was a special star set up, specially designed for guidance. It was to guide a group of wise men, all the way from the east of Israel to Bethlehem.

And so today, in this little story, I want to share with you, how wise men from the East were led to worship Jesus. So, we look at the story from the perspective of some wise men. We don't know how many there were in those days, a group of them probably with an entourage, would have to travel a long distance to seek after Jesus. Scholars tell us that these wise men are probably professors, scholars, philosophers of the time. They were probably people who were rich and influential, powerful and so you ask: why did they travel all the way, what did they want to do with Jesus?

The Bible tells us, very simply, they have come to worship Jesus. So this group of VIPs, came to worship Christ. Now, the word worship there, is very interesting in the Bible. It literally means to kiss, like a dog. I have a little dog at home, his name is Max. Sometimes, he will come around me and he will kiss my feet. Well, that word worship is to kiss the feet like a dog. It refers to someone who lies flat down on the floor. It refers to a posture of humility and submission and reverence.

So, these wise men came and say: we want to pay homage, we want to worship Jesus. So this very important group of people came to worship this child who is barely two years old. He was born to very poor parents, why would they do that? Actually, the same questions should be asked today, why does the whole world pause and celebrate Christmas? And why would you come and why would your friends and family ask you to come? What's so special about Jesus?

Well, these wise men knew more about Jesus than many of us do. They recognized that He was the King of the Jews, not just another king, but The King of the Jews. You see, God has promised the people of Israel, that he would send the ultimate Savior, the ultimate King.

Israel was a nation that was sinful and damaged and ruined by sin and there was never a king who can lead them to true righteousness, peace and joy. Yet God, in the Bible, repeatedly promises Israel, promises His people: I will send The King to save you.

So, we see for example, in the book of Jeremiah, written hundreds of years before Jesus was born, that God would raise up the descendant of David to be King. And then we see in Isaiah, another passage that tells us: the government will be on his shoulder, this child would be a special child.

We are told again in 2nd Samuel that God will establish the kingdom of King and you would have an everlasting kingdom. The promise of God for the Savior goes even further back. For example, in Genesis. 22, we read, an offspring, a descendant, through whom all nations will be blessed.

So, if you put all these things together, God is saying in the Bible, in His Word, that there will be a Savior, a King, who is to the Jews and yet this King of the Jews, would also be the reason why, all nations on the Earth will be blessed.

So, the wise men, probably knew about these promises of the Bible. Perhaps, there were prophets of old like Daniel, who was sent to Babylon and Medo Persia who told them these promises. So the Word of God was spread to the Far East and they heard about this and centuries later, wise men sought for this King.

Now, you say, are you sure the wise men, really knew all that you are talking about? Well, let me ask you, if you knew that a family just had a baby and you go to visit the family, you want to bring some gifts, what would you bring? Well, for me, I thought about it, I thought I might bring something like this, I bring MamyPoko or Pampers or something along those lines. I mean, it's practical, it's useful, a baby needs it. Or maybe, I might bring some milk powder, or maybe when the kid is older I'd bring some toys, I mean, that would be quite appropriate to give a family with a newborn child.

But the wise men, didn't bring any Pampers, didn't bring any milk powder, they brought three gifts. What are these things? Well, the first one is gold. Now, gold is good, I mean, this is worth a lot; you say this is practical, this is wonderful. But, the second gift is a little strange, because, they brought along frankincense. Frankincense, of things you use to make incense. And then, the third gift is even more weird, they brought this spice, this stuff, called myrrh. You say: what is myrrh for, well, myrrh is used to embalm the dead. When someone dies, the body rots, corrupts, smells very quickly and you use myrrh to retard that process.

So, wise men, brought gold, frankincense and myrrh. Someone said, they brought Gold, Frankenstein and Smurf. Well, they brought good stuff, which is not really practical, but they are very symbolic. These gifts, represent their understanding of who they worship. These gifts, proof that they know Jesus is King. Gold, a gift worthy of a king, frankincense, proof that they understand that this child is no ordinary child, but God, the very God Himself.

I think people of all cultures, understand you offer incense to deities. And then, they understand that this God, born into this world to be our King, will do so through His death. So, the wise men came to worship child Jesus, because they knew He is the King of the Jews because He is God and because He will die to save them from their sins.

These men knew a lot about Jesus. But, knowing something, is quite different from acting upon it, isn't it. Well, they were willing to travel hundreds of miles, because I think they have a need in their hearts, they have a need in their soul. Now, these are, let me remind you, rich, powerful, influential men in their nations. And so, you might think, what do rich, powerful, famous men need, they have everything.

Well, it's interesting, some time ago, I read on a Facebook post, I read about an exam question for Hong Kong, primary one entrance. One question, requires an answer that fits four blanks, in this sentence. So, one word, made up of seven English letters of the alphabet, that will answer all four blanks. The question goes like this

The rich man needs this, (there is a blank).
The poor man has this, (a blank).
If you eat this, (blank), you will die
and if you die, you will bring this with you.

So, what is it? Maybe, I was not very clear, so you can look at this question again. Can you answer this question, a rich man needs this (blank). A poor man has this, (blank). If you eat this, you die and when you die, you can take this with you. One word fills all four blank spaces, it is a seven letter word, what is it?

Nothing, wah, you're all very kiang leh, how come you're so smart. I look at it for a long time, I cannot figure it out. So, congratulations, you can go to primary one in Hong Kong. Well, when I looked at it, I thought wow, okay, I can understand why you would say, nothing is the answer. But somehow, I don't quite agree with Hong Kong primary one, entrance exam's answer. A rich man needs nothing. Think about it, is that really true? A rich man needs nothing, that's what we all think. That's how you think, maybe even today. You say, if I had just one million dollars, I will be completely satisfied.

Or maybe you say, no, one million, too little in Singapore, 2 million better. And maybe, after a while, you say, no, 2 million is not enough, I think it's safer to have five. 5 million will allow me to buy a few apartments and my children will be settled, I will be satisfied. Actually, I am not so sure. Maybe, 10 million, safer. How about 20? Maybe, in your heart, that might be the figure. Some of you, maybe 50, maybe a 100 million. Would that be enough for you? Gou ma, 50 million? 50 million, would that be enough, would you be happy, no! You greedy boy. I mean, five, 50 million, what would it not be able to buy you.

Well, someone has more than 50 million. I read about this man, he has more than 50 million; Together with his brother, he has 12 billion dollars. 12 billion! That's right, that's the kind of exclamation you should have. Now, that was in the first half of this year. I tell you, these rich men, their money rolls, I think it's probably more than 12 now. Would that be enough for you? 12 billion dollars, and you know how much that is? 12,000 million. A lot, a lot of money alright.

Now, you would have thought, his life would be absolutely complete and satisfied. Well, by the way, he is Mr. Philip Ng, one of the two brothers who owns Far East organization. So, let's hear what he says. I have invited him here, not on stage, but on video.

Uncle Philip, to all the young people watching this, what do you think is the one piece of advice you'd give them?

Well, what I have discovered is that all of us are broken. We all have a missing piece and for me, I discovered that, that missing piece is God through Jesus Christ. I was always in search of a better life, a better purpose, a better me, a better everything. But I was just looking at all the wrong things.

But when I realized that there is no better me or better things without Jesus, then it all snapped in place. Maybe we have to look deeper. I treasure that more than anything. I just wish for everyone to have that peace and joy. It sure beats a lot of money and material things that you may have. It starts with accepting that you are broken and that there is a missing piece. And for me, personally, that missing piece is our Lord Jesus Christ. Wow.

He is broken, he doesn't look broken, he, he has no fractures. He is not talking about physical brokenness but that spiritual brokenness. He recognizes something is drastically wrong in life. He realizes that he is a sinful man before a Holy God. He is a rebel before God, he is alienated or cut off from God and therefore, there is a void, there is an emptiness, there is a missing piece in his heart. You see, he, he understands that we are made by God and we are made for God and sin has cut us off from our Creator God. Thus, the brokenness and thus the sense of something missing, a gaping hole in your heart.

You can have all the money in the world, you can buy lots of cars and houses, you can use money to get all kinds of relationships and titles. But all these things are on the outside but your heart still remains empty on the inside. But we don't really see that all the time, like Hong Kong. Primary one exam question: a rich man needs nothing because, people often assume that if I have enough money, I have enough things on the outside, I can fill up what is on the inside. And they spend their whole life, chasing after one mil, two mil, five mil, 50 mil.

Philip Ng, has gone, 20, 50 times more than 20 mil and he comes back and tells us, the missing piece is God. This is not just Philip Ng. People, throughout the ages have understood that we are made for something more than what material things could satisfy. Some 2000 years ago there was this man called Augustine who said, "you have made us for yourself, oh Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in you."

O, there are so many people today who are on this wild goose chase, for the next million, for the next title, for the next advancement, and yet the heart still is as empty as before and that's the devastation of life isn't it. You waste your whole life chasing for something that is really not what life is all about.

The wise men: they had money, power, influence, yet they traveled all the way because they knew only this King of the Jews can save them from their sins and bring them to the Creator God. The Bible is not that complicated actually, it is about God and how we sinful men can be reconciled to this God, through Jesus Christ.

Sin, leads us to death, that means, separation from God, but Jesus is THE Life, He brings us to God. Over and over again, the Bible tells us so. For example, in John, it says, In him, in Jesus, was life, and the life was the light of men.

You say: I want to have a good life, I want the meaning of life, I want a fulfilling life. Real life, can never be found apart from Jesus Christ because it can never be found apart from God. In Him, was life.

Jesus says: I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall never hunger, and whoever comes to me shall never thirst. There is a lasting satisfaction when we are reconnected to God through Jesus Christ.

Jesus says: I am the light of the world. I provide you the light of life. Many of us today are confused, living in darkness; we are bewildered as to the real purpose of our existence. Jesus is the light of the world who gives you the light of life.

Jesus says: I have come that they might, that they may have life and have it abundantly. Many of you don't come to church, you, you are not religious, because you think that religion is very restrictive, it curbs you, it is difficult, it's not nice. The Bible tells us however, following Jesus is the key to abundant life.

I have had many friends who ask me: why are you so silly. Maybe, they are not so blunt, and say, you are silly, but I can see it in their face and in the tone of their voice, 'aiyoh'. Why did you give up medicine to, to, to be, to be teaching God's Word. It's, it's so sayang, such a waste, aiyoh, you waste your life. But the Bible tells me, when I follow Jesus, I don't waste my life, I have abundant life. Well, I found that to be true, all these years of my life. Real life comes in knowing Jesus Christ.

Jesus said: I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. You see, Jesus came to die, so that we might live. He went to the cross, not because He was guilty of any sin Himself, but God's Son was born into this world, to take our sin, to take our punishment, to die for us, so that our sins are punished not on us, but on Him.

So, for those who die and those who have believed in Jesus, we shall not perish in judgment of God, but we shall be resurrected to eternal life. Jesus says: I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.

You know why your friends and your family invited you to church today, because deep in their hearts, they want you to have real life, that your sins can be forgiven and that you may be reconciled with the Holy God who made you. And they all know from the Bible, it is only through Jesus Christ. So the wise men, 2000 years ago, they came to Jesus, they didn't bring Pampers or Nan 1, but they brought gifts symbolized their understanding: Jesus is King, is God who died and paid for their sins.

So, what's the summary of what you're saying Jason? It's very simple: Christmas is about giving, isn't it, we give gifts to one another. But actually, it really should remind us of the greatest Gift of all, that God gave His Son while we were yet sinners. This is the amazing love of God, we give gifts to people we love, people who are near us, people we like. But God gave His Son for people who hated Him.

The wages of sin is death, you earn spiritual death with your rebellion against God. But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus the Lord. Christmas time, I gave gifts to my kids; they don't cost a lot, don't tell them, they are here. But when God gave His Gift for us, He gave His all, He gave His Son.

Well, the wise men, when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. I love the way the English puts it. They- the Bible doesn't just say they rejoiced, they rejoiced exceedingly. Not just rejoiced exceedingly but rejoiced exceedingly with joy. Not just rejoiced exceedingly with joy, but rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

So, the Chinese version should be like what Chee Kin has said, yao gai dao da da da da da de huan xi.

But that was an expression of their unbelievable joy, all their money and power could never buy. But they realized God has given His Son, in a little town of Bethlehem, some 2000 years ago, in a very lowly place. Through Him, all nations will be blessed.

God used a star to lead the wise men to His Son. Maybe God has used your family and your friends to lead you to His Son. Our hope, is that you will know this real joy, that you will be saved from your guilt, you will be saved from your shame before God, you will be saved from your fears. So, what do I have to do, you say. Well, you have to receive this gift. Hearing this alone will not save you. The Bible says: whosoever repents and believes will be saved. In other words, you recognize that you are a sinner before a Holy God, you stop making excuses for your sins. You realize that you can't do anything to merit or deserve God's favor upon your life. In other words, you stop trying to be self-righteous and you rely, fully and wholly on the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

If I may say this, we may be a little bit like Max, that we will come and bow before the great Savior Jesus and kiss His feet. Will you humble yourself today and come to Jesus. I pray you will know of our Savior. May you find life, may you have this joy exceedingly. Please join me for a word a prayer as we bow our heads together.

Christmas is about Christ, the whole world pauses to remember the birth of God's Son, the Promised One who would save man from his sins. The One who was destined to die on the cross, the One who will be our sacrificial Lamb, He takes away the sin of the world. My friend, there is no other savior, there is no one who has died to pay for our sins and has risen again. Jesus is the resurrection and the life, Jesus is the Bread of Life, Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Will you today, humble yourself and repent and believe in Jesus?

I'd like to give you a little time, right where you are, I don't need you to stand up, I don't need you to raise your hand, but I would ask that you would take this time and think about what you have just heard. Will you today, humble yourself before God? God has made you and God has made you for Himself. You will never know life for what it is supposed to be, except you come and believe in Jesus. May God have mercy on all of us here.

If you'd like to believe in Jesus, you can do it right here, right where you are. It's not some magical words you say, it's a choice of your heart. And if you'd like to find out more, you have questions to ask, tell your friend, tell your family or tell us, in this church, we will be so glad to point you to Jesus. May God bless your hearts today.

Father, we thank You for this evening, as the world just rushes through this day with maybe parties and shopping, we thank You, we can read from the Bible, Your Word and realize the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ Your Son. Please dear God, humble hearts today, grant understanding and conviction and convincement in many lives. We pray that Your Holy Spirit will take the Gospel, this Good News and shine it in their hearts that men and women here will be saved. Lord, help them repent and believe. And may You be glorified through the salvation of precious souls. We thank You and pray all this in Jesus' Name, Amen.

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