The Gifts - Christmas 2012

Posted on 12/23/2012 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***


Public Prayer Requests:

*** there are no public prayer requests this week ***


GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN

Go tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere,
Go tell it on the mountain,
Our Jesus Christ is born.

When I was a seeker
I sought both night and day,
I asked the Lord to help me,
And he showed me the way.

Go tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere,
Go tell it on the mountain,
Our Jesus Christ is born.

He made me a watchman
Upon a city wall,
And if I am a Christian,
I am the least of all.

Go tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere,
Go tell it on the mountain,
Our Jesus Christ is born.


JOY TO THE WORLD

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.


AWAY IN A MANGER

Away in a manger,
No crib for His bed
The little Lord Jesus
Laid down His sweet head

The stars in the bright sky
Looked down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay

The cattle are lowing
The poor Baby wakes
But little Lord Jesus
No crying He makes

I love Thee, Lord Jesus
Look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle,
'Til morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus,
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me I pray

Bless all the dear children
In Thy tender care
And take us to heaven
To live with Thee there


SILENT NIGHT

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth


GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMEN

God rest ye merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

In Bethlehem, in Israel,
This blessed Babe was born
And laid within a manger
Upon this blessed morn
The which His Mother Mary
Did nothing take in scorn
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

From God our Heavenly Father
A blessed Angel came;
And unto certain Shepherds
Brought tidings of the same:
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by Name.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

"Fear not then," said the Angel,
"Let nothing you affright,
This day is born a Saviour
Of a pure Virgin bright,
To free all those who trust in Him
From Satan's power and might."
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

The shepherds at those tidings
Rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding
In tempest, storm and wind
And went to Bethlehem straightway
The Son of God to find.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

And when they came to Bethlehem
Where our dear Saviour lay,
They found Him in a manger,
Where oxen feed on hay;
His Mother Mary kneeling down,
Unto the Lord did pray.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All other doth deface.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy


*** listen to the audio for the introduction ***

Matthew 1:18-23, 2:1-12 (NKJV)

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.
19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.
20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."

22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:
23 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us."

24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife,
25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.

Chapter 2

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,
2 saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him."

3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

5 So they said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:

6 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.'"

7 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared.
8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also."

9 When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen 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 exceedingly great joy.
11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

12 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.


Now, usually when we think of the wise men, we picture Jesus being born, immediately after which shepherds show up followed immediately by three wise men. But as we just read, the wise men came some time after Jesus had been born, not necessarily on that night.

And were there three wise men? Well, it's possible, and that's generally what we think. This is probably because there were three gifts, and it's reasonable to assume that each wise man had a different gift.

But what we DO know for sure is what those gifts were: Gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Have you ever noticed that God doesn't waste anything? The three gifts given to Jesus would have been nice even if they had no spiritual significance. But they did. And I'd like for us to take a few minutes to consider these gifts. After all, last week we talked about keeping Jesus the center of all our Christmas activities, and our giving of gifts should reflect both the gifts given to Him, and also the gifts to manking that those gifts represented.

First of all, they gave Jesus gold. Gold was a common tribute to give to kings and rulers. It was NOT a typical gift to give to a baby. In today's world, it would probably be considered a choking hazard. "Warning: do not place gold inside crib, as it may result in choking. Not a toy. For external use only."

Gold was the usual gift presented to kings by their subjects. When the wise men presented gold to Jesus, they were honoring Him with their very best. And they were recognizing Him as their king. Gold also was used plentifully in the tabernacle and the temple, which were places of worship, so the gold given to Jesus could have been an act of worship.

Next, they gave Jesus frankincense. Frankincense was very costly and very fragrant. It was used in worship, where it was burned as an offering to God. It was also used as both medicine and perfume.

So the frankincense given to Jesus could, first of all, represent His divinity. It was not only part of an act of worship, but was specifically an act of worship to God.

Since it was used as medicine and perfume, it also represented the glory and presence of God. When the Spirit of God has been active in a place of worship, whether that place is a church building, a home, or an office cubicle, there is a fragrance that is left behind. According to Scripture, to those who are perishing and are rejecting God, it is the scent of death; but to those who are searching for Him and are open to His Lordship, it is the scent of life everlasting.

We also know that Jesus is the Great Physician, and His presence brings healing: healing of the body, the mind, the emotions, the spirit, and the soul. And this gift of frankencense represented His healing, His presence, and His divinity.

And finally, they gave Jesus Myrrh. Myrrh was used primarilly for embalming the dead. That's a really strange gift to bring to a newborn baby, wouldn't you agree? But this was not your average baby. This was God made flesh, who came to serve, to heal, and to die.

This final gift of Myrrh foretold of His death, which was the primary reason He was born. He didn't come just to preach and teach. He didn't come just to tell people how to reach enlightenment. He wasn't just a good man, or even a prophet, who lived, did good things, and then died and rotted like the rest of mankind.

Rather, He was born for the purpose of dying in your place. And instead of rattles, bibs, diapers, and cute little toys, Jesus' birth was celebrated with gifts that represented His kingship and authority, His healing and the fragrence of His presence, and His fulfillment of the reason He came, which was His death, as He took upon Himself the sins of all mankind.

So we really can't celebrate Jesus' birth without being mindful of His death. And we really can't be mindful of His death without celebrating the end of that death, which was His resurrection and your and my redemption.

So the birth of Jesus means our forgiveness for our sins; our reconciliation to God; our redemption from eternal punishment; and our everlasting life.

And the invitation today is simple: have you presented to Jesus YOUR gifts today? your gifts of acknowledging and surrendering to Him as your king and as the Lord over every single part of your life? your acceptance of and submersion in His gift of the fragrance of His presence, that fragrance that you take with you everywhere you go after spending time deep in worship, and the healing touch of the Great physician on your mind, your emotions, your life, your relationships, your attitudes, and your eternal spirit? and His death, and the death of your old nature, as you crucify your flesh every single day and rise, instead, by the Spirit into newness of life?

This altar is open, and you're invited to get out of your seat right now and make your way to the front. And let's just spend some time seeking after God, surrendering every single part of our lives and our selves to Him, and celebrating His birth just like the wise men did -- with the purpose for that birth in mind.

If you'd like someone to talk or pray with you, you can instant message Mariposa or me. Whenever you need to leave, you're dismissed, and if you can stay, you're invited to make your way up the stairs and into the room to your left after you're done at the altar, and we'll all meet there in a few minutes for a time of fellowship.

Come, and let's celebrate the miracle of Jesus' birth!

*** listen to the audio for closing prayer ***