“Searching for Jesus”
From time to time I hear stories about people finding something they lost many years ago. After searching for the lost ring, pet, or some other treasured possession, they finally found what was lost. I have even heard stories about people finding a relative whom they thought had moved to another country or perhaps had passed away. Oh, to search for and find something or someone usually takes a great deal of effort. It takes persistence to keep on looking. Knowledge of the area and special insight or wisdom can also be helpful. Yes, some will go to great efforts to search for and find that which is meaningful. In the New Testament part of the Bible, we find that same thing played out. The story revolves around a king named Herod and some wise men searching for the newborn baby named Jesus. If you know something about the Bible, this story may be familiar. For the next few minutes here on “Key To The Kingdom,” we will look at various reactions of those involved. The wise men, the king, along with Jesus' family, are all important parts of the story. As we go through it again, there is something I would like for you to keep in mind. Consider how you may be searching for Jesus, as well. Oh, He is not the physical-son of God, as He was when He was born; however, He is still the Son of God, ruling and reigning at His Father's right hand. With that in mind we can still be searching for and finding Jesus Christ, the Savior of this world. I hope you'll stay tuned to this station as we study the lesson entitled, “Searching for Jesus.”
My grandfather, on my father's side, loved to tell stories. Some of my fondest memories are when I, along with my siblings and cousins, would sit on the floor at his feet and listen to his stories of the past. Oh, we all had our favorites, and we enjoyed hearing them over and over again. Well, certainly we all have our favorite Bible stories as well. They might include the story of God creating the world, or Noah and the ark, or perhaps even Jesus feeding the multitudes of people with just a few loaves of bread and some small fish. A recent survey suggests that the visit of the wise men to see Jesus shortly after His birth is the sixth most popular story in the Bible. It is well-liked by many, and no doubt we like hearing that story retold over and over again. Well, as we study that story today, I want us to notice three different reactions from the people involved with that story; it is found in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 2. And although we will read through the story, I want us to break it up into different sections, to read it a little bit differently than we might normally read the text. All three of these reactions come from three different sections of the Scripture, and so let's take a look at the text from that angle. The first reaction is from the wise men who wanted to see the King of the Jews, beginning with verse 1. <After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the East came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the One who has been born King of the Jews? We saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him." (skip to verse 7) Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find Him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship Him.” After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.> On the night of Jesus' birth, the angel in heaven announced to the shepherds in the field the arrival of God's Son. Oh what a glorious occasion that must've been on that starry night. And those shepherds immediately went into Bethlehem and they saw baby Jesus with their very own eyes. Mary and Joseph and the child were all there, and that was no doubt a very special occasion. Well according to the text, at a later time, the wise men, or the Magi, traveled a great distance from the East, to the town of Jerusalem. They had been following a star and that star took them to Jerusalem. There they met with King Herod, the king of Judea. These men were royal priests or astrologers, they searched the skies, they studied the stars and they tried to interpret them for other people. And that's why they arrived in Jerusalem, following this bright star. Well, the Bible does not tell us exactly how many wise men made that trip, but they all came seeking the King of the Jews. They wanted to worship the Lord's Messiah, the Savior of the world. And after being told that He was in Bethlehem, the wise men went to that town, and sure enough they found Him living in a house with Mary and Joseph. Obviously, it was at least several months after the actual birth of Christ. And when they saw Him, they, like the shepherds, rejoiced. They worshiped God, and they presented Him with some very special gifts. They presented Him gold, which was and still is a very precious metal; and, very valuable. They offered Him frankincense, which was a highly fragrant spice and used as a pleasant offering. They also presented to the child myrrh, which was another spice often times used in the embalming process. But these men wanted to see Jesus, they wanted to honor Jesus. They made every effort to travel a great distance over an extended period of time, and when they finally got there, they offered to Him the very best gifts they had to offer. And so the first reaction that we find to the arrival of Jesus is from the wise men who wanted to see the King of the Jews. The second reaction comes from King Herod who was afraid of the King of the Jews. Let's read his part of the story, beginning with verse 3. <Now when King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the Law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel." (skip to verse 16) When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."> Herod was the king of Judea at the time Jesus was born, and he wanted to know from the chief priests and the teachers of the Law what these wise men, or Magi, were talking about: “Tell me more about the arrival of a new king, a new ruler.” Well they knew from the Scriptures, they knew about the prophecy from the old Law. They knew about the Lord's Messiah who would eventually come, and they said, "Indeed He has come, the time is now." They quoted from Micah 5:2 the words, "Out of Bethlehem will come a ruler who will shepherd My people Israel." Upon hearing that, Herod felt threatened. "Who is this new ruler," he must have asked. "Who is going to take my place as the king of Judea over all of these people? I want to know about him, I want to eliminate that threat." And so, he put together a plan to do just that. Oh, he told the wise men he wanted to go and worship this newborn babe, but really he had no intention of doing that; and so in a separate dream, the angel told the wise men to go home by another route so their lives would be spared. And when the king realized the wise men had out witted him, he became furious. He was angry. He sought revenge, and so he sent out the decree for all of the baby boys, two years old and under living in and around Bethlehem, to be put to death. What a sad and tragic event, but yet it too was a fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:15, "The women would weep for their children, because they have been put to death." So then, the second reaction was from King Herod, who was afraid of the King of the Jews. Then there was a third reaction, it is from Joseph who protected the King of the Jews. Let's notice his part of the story that begins in verse 13. <When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and His mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill Him.” So he got up, took the child and His mother during the night, and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called My Son.” (skip down to verse 19) After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, ”Get up, take the child and His mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child's life are dead.” So, he got up, took the child and His mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reining in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that He would be called a Nazarene.> God's angel appeared to Joseph as the wise men left and he said, "The child's life is in danger. Herod is upset and he is seeking to destroy the child and others, perhaps, with him.” And so Joseph was instructed to go to another place, but when he arrived there, he heard that Herod's son Archelaus was about to do the very same thing, and so he was led again to another place. And in the midst of all of that, Joseph listened very carefully to the voice of the Lord, and he obeyed and did exactly what he was instructed to do. And so, the third reaction to the arrival of Jesus into this world is that Joseph protected the King of the Jews. Oh we see all kinds of reactions here to the arrival of Jesus Christ; the wise men wanted to see Him, Herod was afraid of Him, and Joseph protected Him. But the question now comes for us today, what is our reaction to the King of the Jews? How do we respond to the arrival of Jesus Christ into this world? Well, we are not to be afraid of Him, as was King Herod. In fact, Jesus wants us to respond to Him in the exact opposite way. He is our friend. He wants us to come to Him. We find that in Matthew 11:28, <"Come to me all you who labor and are heavy burden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you for I am meek and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. My yoke is easy and my burden is light."> Yes, Jesus came to be a friend to sinners. He came to welcome all who would come unto Him. In fact, we read in John 3:17 that Jesus came into this world not to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. So, there is no need to be afraid of Jesus, the King of the Jews, the Savior of the world. And neither is there any reason to protect Jesus, like Joseph did on that occasion. Jesus needs no help, He needs no protection from us. Jesus is the King of Kings, the Ruler of all Rulers, who is seated at His Father's right hand. However, there is every reason to respond like the wise men. We are to go to great extremes to search for and find Jesus. That is a spiritual journey that might not be easy. That journey might take a long time. It might require a great deal of effort. But like with these wise men, there is always great reward in searching for and finding the King of the Jews. I think about several examples of when that happened, that's recorded in Scripture. You might remember when Jesus was but 12 years old, Mary and Joseph took Him to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. Upon finishing, they thought He was with them, in the company of believers going back home, but they found out He was not. After being separated from Jesus for some three days, they finally found Him, as they searched and looked all over Jerusalem, in the temple courts talking with the teachers of the Law. I also think about the time early in Jesus' ministry when He got up long before the others and He went to a quiet place in order to talk with His Heavenly Father, and the disciples were looking everywhere for Him. They finally found Him and they said, "Why are you here? Everyone is looking for you." Indeed they were, because Jesus was teaching them some amazing things. He was transforming their lives by the miracles He did, and they wanted to experience more of His presence. I also think about Mary and Mary Magdalene who went to the tomb early on that resurrection morning. They wanted to anoint the body of Jesus, yet they found an empty tomb. But they also found something else, very special: They heard the greeting from Jesus himself. Oh, in any and all of those situations, plus many more, the people who searched for and found Jesus were greatly rewarded for it. Throughout history, multitudes of people have seen the need and have made the effort to search for and to find the King of the Jews. No doubt we are to do the same. Jesus spoke a parable along that line suggesting that the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. Once the man discovered that, he went back, he sold his possessions, he gathered up all of his assets, and he went and he purchased that field for himself, so that he could rightly claim that treasure. Likewise, that is what we do. We diligently search for and find Jesus Christ, and we enjoy the treasure of Jesus. God has revealed to us Himself in the form of His Son. He has given to us the very best gift He could possibly give. And as I think about Jesus, I'm reminded of some of those statements that He made, recorded in John's Gospel; Chapter 6:35, "I am the bread of life;" Chapter 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life;” “I am the resurrection and the life," Chapter 11:25; "In me you will find abundant life," Chapter 10:10; "And even eternal life," Chapter 12:25. Jesus is unlike anyone else whom we will ever seek to find. He is God's Son and was sent for a purpose. He loved us enough to die for us, and then He rose again to give us hope. Yes Jesus is the only source of our salvation. He is more than we could ever ask for or imagine. Jesus meets our needs. He satisfies our deepest longings. He addresses our problems. And when we seek Him and when we find Him, we will know that He is certainly worthy of our worship and our praise and of the very best gift we can offer to Him. At times we may be tempted to believe that God owes us something, even more, something even better. That is not the case at all. He has already given to us the very best gift He could possibly give. He has given to us His one and only Son. And so the question remains, how then do we react? How then do we respond to the greatest gift? We bring Him the very best gift we have to offer. Jesus summarizes what that looks like in Luke chapter 9:23, "If you want to be My disciple, you must deny yourself and take up your cross daily and follow Me." Oh, to follow Jesus requires self-denial. We give up what is important to us to pursue what is important to the Lord. Following Him involves complete dedication and obedience and a commitment that we are to keep each and every day. Following Jesus includes sacrificial living, it includes paying a price. It involves the willingness to suffer pain and rejection, perhaps even to the point of death, dying for the One who has already died for us. Obviously, none of that sounds very attractive, does it? Yet, as we think about what Jesus has already done on our behalf, can we respond any differently? Can we react to Jesus Christ any differently than by giving our very best to Him, as He has already given His very best to us? One of the greatest stories in the Bible revolves around wise men searching for Jesus, traveling a great distance, making a great deal of effort, going through all kinds of sacrifice to search for and to find the King of the Jews, the Savior of this world. That story was and it still is important to us today. We, too, are to search for and find God's Son, the Lord's Messiah, the Savior of the world; for He brings life to those who were dead in their sins. He offers hope of an eternal home with Him in heaven. As we wrap up our lesson today, I want to do so by asking a question. As the wise men did some 2000 years ago, are we wise enough to search for and to find Jesus Christ today? Oh, I hope and I pray that we are, and I hope and I pray that we will make every effort to do that every day.
The night Jesus was born, a host of heavenly angels announced His arrival. The shepherds then went to Bethlehem in hopes of finding Him in a manger or perhaps in a cave. Bethlehem is located in the limestone hills that form the backbone of the Judean mountains, and natural caves dot the landscape. The shepherds immediately left their flocks in the field to go find Jesus. Once they did, they spread the news of the Messiah's arrival. According to Luke 2, 40 days after His birth Mary and Joseph made the five mile journey to Jerusalem to present their son to the Lord. They did so in obedience to the command found in Leviticus 12. Because they were very poor, they could only offer a pair of young pigeons as a sacrifice to the Lord in honor of their son. Perhaps the glowing sky of the angels appearing to the shepherds was seen by the wise men or Magi. When King Herod heard of Jesus' birth, he sent them out to find him. Indeed they found him living in a house, there they showered him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The wise men and Joseph then had separate dreams that night. Joseph and Mary left early the next morning for Egypt, while the wise men took a road east, that avoided Herod and Jerusalem. Oh, what it would have been like to be near this very area where those amazing events took place. Well, the search for Jesus begins here, but we continue to search for, find, and worship Jesus Christ, the Son of God, still today.
Thank you for being our guest today. I trust this message about searching for Jesus gave you some things to consider regarding your own spiritual life. I also hope you liked hearing a little bit more about the events and people surrounding the wise men's search for the Lord. This lesson, along with many other previous lessons, is available on the website. You can go to keytothekingdom.com and find those which might be of interest. All of them can be easily downloaded in a variety of formats. There is also no cost or obligation to do so. You might also be interested in looking at some of the short video messages. Each one provides a practical way to put God's Word into practice. Devotional thoughts are also available for your daily consideration. If you have not already found us on Facebook®, I hope you will do so. Our page not only offers these one to two minute messages, but a direct link to our website. Each week new messages are uploaded, and I hope you will access any that might be of interest. Roku® television and a free phone app are two other ways to gain free access to our ministry. I hope you will take advantage of these many options. For further consideration, study questions are available at the end of each lesson. They might assist you in making some practical application to your spiritual life. Thank you again for taking time to be a part of today’s program. I hope you will tune in again next week, at this same time, as we continue to study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom.”