Wise Men

16 December, 2018

Tonight we’ve been singing some wonderful songs about Christmas. We’ve been singing about:

  • Bethlehem
  • shepherds
  • angels
  • God
  • sheep
  • a star
  • wise men
  • light
  • hope
  • truth
  • a baby

we’ve been singing and talking about a lot of things tonight. So my big question is…what is Christmas really all about?
について歌っています。 そして今夜は、歌に出てくる、それらのことについてお話ししていきましょう。さて、はじめに、質問から始めたいと思います。その質問とは、「クリスマスとはいったい何なのでしょうか?」ということです。

Now, many of you will know that I love quizzes, so let me put this question into a quiz for you.
Christmas is about:

  1. sheep
  2. presents
  3. Santa Claus
  4. beautifully decorated trees
  5. all of the above
  6. none of the above

The answer is of course, ‘b’ – the presents! Christmas is all about the presents!
答えはもちろん、「b」 – プレゼントです!クリスマスとはプレゼントを意味します!プレゼントが全てです。

Tonight, as we come to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, I would like to look at the presents that the wise men brought to the baby Jesus because they tell us some remarkable things about this child.

The first present the wise men gave to Jesus was gold. And I have some gold with me right here. Now, this is not real gold – they’re actually chocolate coins covered in gold foil.

The second present the wise men gave was incense. And I have some incense with me right here. I picked it up at my local 100 yen shop.

The third present the wise men gave was myrrh. And I have some myrrh with me right here. Actually this is not real myrrh, it’s coconut butter from LUSH which I was going to give to Remi for Christmas but decided to use here as a prop instead but let’s pretend that it’s myrrh which is, among other things, an embalming ointment (a cream). Who gives embalming ointment as a birthday present to a child?

In fact, why would the wise men give any of these gifts – gold, incense and myrrh – to the infant Jesus? The reason is that they symbolised some very important things about this child.

  1. Gold – this child was a king.
  2. Incense – this child was God.
    乳香は、 「この子は神様です。」ということを表しています。
  3. Myrrh – this child would die.

Now how would you feel if you had a young child and you were having a birthday party for him/her and people brought presents like gold-plated toy cars for your little prince and sweet-smelling bath salts for your little angel – and someone brought embalming ointment because your child was going to die? I don’t know if they’d be a friend for long!

The first two gifts, while amazing, I can understand – gold because Jesus was the great high king who was prophesied about centuries earlier; incense because Jesus was God in human form. But why would anyone, let alone a wise man, give a gift of embalming ointment to a child?

To understand why the wise men would give myrrh – an embalming ointment – to the baby Jesus we need to go way back about 4,000 years to the writings of Moses when he explained the process of atonement of sins before God:

For the life of a creature [for use in the temple usually a lamb or a pigeon] is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.
Leviticus 17:11

レビ記 17:11

2,000 years later, the writer of Hebrews in the Bible explains this mystery in slightly simpler terms:

As Moses’ teachings tell us, blood was used to cleanse almost everything, because if no blood is shed, no sins can be forgiven.
Hebrews 9:22

へブル人への手紙 9:22

This is why John the Baptist, when he first saw Jesus at the Jordan river, said the everyone:

Here he is! The lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
John 1:29

ヨハネの福音書 1:29

This explains why the wise men worshiped the boy Jesus with gold, incense and myrrh:

  1. because he was a king
  2. because he was God
  3. because He was to die a death that would bring the forgiveness of sins to all people and salvation to the world.

His atoning death is explained later in the the book of Hebrews:

Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Hebrews 9:28

へブル人への手紙 9:28

This is very, very profound teaching. We are all guilty of sin. We’ve all lied. We’ve all been selfish. We’ve all hurt others by the things we have said and done. And we’ve all offended a holy God by our unholy speech and our unholy living. No-one is righteous. By our sin, we are all separated from God.

But because of His great love for us, Jesus left heaven and came to earth for us. He paid the price for our sin by His death on the cross: the righteous dying for the unrighteous. This is the greatest act of love the world has ever known.

This is fabulous news! We can have our sins forgiven and receive eternal life when we believe in Jesus and make Him Lord of our lives! It’s wonderful! But there’s just one thing: how do we know it’s true? I mean, it sounds good: forgiveness of sins, the love of God, eternal life. I’d like to believe it’s true. But how can we really know for sure that it’s true?

Maybe it’s all just what one of my good friends likes to say – there’s a lot of this going around:

[Trump video]

How can we know that this wonderful Christmas message is true, and is not just fake news?

We know this is true because after Jesus died, Jesus resurrected from the dead. He was seen by His disciples – they spoke with Him and touched Him and ate with Him after His resurrection, as did 500 other people over a period of 40 days.

And when He went to heaven, He sent His Holy Spirit to be here with us. This is the Spirit of Jesus that to this day, still changes hearts, still heals the sick, still forgives and frees people from sin, still mends broken lives, still gives hope to the hopeless and joy to the sad, and still works miracles. The Holy Spirit of Jesus is alive and working today!

It says in the Bible that,

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
Romans 10:9,10

ローマ人への手紙 10:9,10

Jesus lives! This is the gospel message. This is Christianity. This is what Christmas is all about.

Christmas really is all about gifts. It’s about the greatest gift of all: God has given us His Son Jesus Christ. And the best gift that we can give back to God is ourselves. He has given us His life, so the only appropriate thing to do is give our lives to Him.

Let me finish by saying this: At Christmas, wise people still seek Jesus.

Let’s be wise tonight because we know that a relationship with God is the best thing we can possibly have in our lives.

Let’s be wise tonight because no matter how good or bad our lives might be right now, we know that there is no situation that God can’t make better.

Let’s be wise tonight and humble ourselves, admitting that we are sinful, and need to repent of our sin.

Let’s be wise tonight and confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead

Let’s be wise tonight and invite the Holy Spirit of God into our hearts to cleanse us and bring us new life.

We’re going to take communion shortly. I’m going to invite everyone to examine their lives. I encourage you to silently confess your sins to God in prayer, and make a commitment to give your life to Jesus, to receive His Holy Spirit in your heart and to follow Him every day. If you’ve never done this before but this sounds good to you, please do this, and then come forward with the others to receive the elements of communion and start a new life with God.

In communion, the bread is a symbol of the broken body of Jesus and the grape juice is a symbol of the cleansing blood of Jesus. Eating the bread and drinking the juice is an outward sign of an inward change. It’s an outward sign of a new life starting within. Receiving them in faith, you begin a relationship with God, and a life in Christ.


The Apostles’ Creed

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26