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THE GIFTS OF THE WISE MEN

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, December 14, 2014

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).


When I was in the fifth grade I played one of the three wise men, in a Christmas play in a secular school here in Los Angeles. Of course, that was in the early 1950s. Since then the ACLU and other Satanic agencies have banned any mention of the Christmas story in our schools. They even banned the word “Christmas.” We can tell they are Satanic because they promote “Halloween” vigorously, but they do everything possible to keep our children from thinking about Christ at Christmas and Easter. They used to call it "Easter Vacation" - but now they call it "Spring Break"!  

But I was one of the wise men in that play. We had to sing the song Mr. Griffith just gave, “We Three Kings of Orient Are.” One of the other boys, when we were alone, added a few words, “We three kings of Orient are, Smoking on a ten-cent cigar.” You know, I never hear that song without remembering him saying that! And he had a terrible voice. I mean, it was awful! Finally I got him to sing very softly, which made it a little better. But I wondered who these three kings were, and why they had travelled so far to see the baby Jesus.

Mr. Prudhomme just read the story of the wise men and the baby Jesus in the second chapter of Matthew. The account is simple. Wise men came from the east, following a star. We are not told how many wise men there were. The pictures we see on Christmas cards show three of them. But the Bible doesn’t say there were three. The idea of three comes from the fact that they presented the baby Jesus with three gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But Dr. McGee said there must have been far more than three. He said that three wise men would not “have disturbed Herod or excited Jerusalem” (Thru the Bible; note on Matthew 2:1). Dr. McGee said there must have been a large number of these men.

These wise men came from Babylonia. Daniel 2:27 speaks of the “wise men [and] the astrologers.” As a young man, Daniel was trained among those “wise men,” the Magi of Babylon. In his old age Daniel became the chief of these wise men. When Christ was born, there were still wise men there. They would have had a copy of the book Daniel wrote. As they studied Daniel 9:24-26 they would have learned of the coming Messiah of the Jews. When the 69 weeks of years was near its end, they would have thought of the Messiah. Then they saw a star, which they had never seen before. It was a supernatural star. They believed this was a sign in the heavens that the Messiah, the king of the Jews, had come. They travelled to Jerusalem, bringing gifts to Him. When they got to Jerusalem, the scribes read to them Micah 5:2, that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, which is a short distance from Jerusalem. Then the star appeared again and went in front of them “till it came and stood over where the young child was” (Matthew 2:9). We know it was a supernatural star because it moved, guiding them to Jesus. Now turn in your Bible to Matthew 2:11. It’s on page 995 of the Scofield Bible. Please stand as I read that verse,

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).

You may be seated.

There are several lessons we can learn from this chapter in Matthew. For instance, we could contrast wicked King Herod with the wise men. Herod was jealous and fearful of losing his crown. Herod was not a Jew. He was an Idumean who had purchased his position as king from the Roman government. That was why he wanted to find the child, whom the wise men called the “King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2). But he didn’t want to worship Jesus. He wanted to kill Him, to keep Him from taking his throne away. The wise men wanted to worship Jesus, but King Herod wanted to kill Him.

I could give a sermon showing that is the way the world reacts to Jesus, today. Good Christians want to worship Jesus. But wicked people, like those in the ACLU, want to get rid of Him. They ban Christmas carols in school, and even in some public places now. They ban Nativity scenes. They even ban the word “Christmas,” because the word has Christ in it. I could preach a sermon contrasting those who are like Herod, and those who are like the wise men, who love Jesus and want to worship Him.

Or, I could contrast the wise men with the scribes. The scribes knew that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem, but they did not go there to see Him. They knew about Jesus, but they didn’t walk the short distance to Bethlehem to come and worship Him. The wise men travelled a long distance to get where Jesus was. Remember that they made a long, hard trip on the backs of camels. It is not easy or comfortable to ride on a camel. I know. I rode on a camel when Ileana and I went to Egypt. I rode around the Great Pyramid, near the Sphinx, on the back of a camel. It was an unpleasant experience to say the least! I could preach a sermon on that – contrasting the scribes, who knew where He was but didn’t go, with the wise men, who travelled a long, hard journey to find Jesus. I could have applied the scribes to “church kids” who know the Bible, but who will not trust Jesus – compared to the young people who come out of the world and, with great difficulty, come to Jesus.

Or I could have preached a third sermon – on the Jewish people who rejected Him, as the innkeeper and the scribes did – to the Babylonian Gentiles who came, through great difficulty, to find Him. I could have compared the wise men to people in the Third World (in China, in the Muslim world, in the jungles of Cambodia and Vietnam) – who struggle against great odds to find Christ and worship Him. I could preach that the Americans, and the West in general, have churches on every corner, but turn up their noses and walk away. That is very evident at Christmas time.

We have had people actually fight against us, and say terrible things against me, for telling young people to be in church on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve! One woman did everything she could to pull her son out of church. When he left the church he went into a gang and was murdered. Then that same woman, who had pulled him out of the church, came crying to me to perform his funeral – when it was too late to save him! Of course, I performed the funeral, but it was too late to save her son! What foolish people these are! They would rather have their children in a godless party than to be in church on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. In “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Shakespeare had “Puck” say, “What fools these mortals be!” How sadly true! They are as blind as the scribes – and some of them are as wicked as old King Herod! Don’t you let anyone keep you from being here in church on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve! Don’t let them pull you out of church to go to some drunken party, or some worldly event! Don’t let them do it to you! Don’t let them do it to you! Take a stand and be firm like the wise men! Don’t miss church like those unbelieving scribes and sinful old Herod! The Bible says,

“Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord...and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (II Corinthians 6:17, 18).

“Come out from among them” and be with God’s people on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve! Be with the Christians, worshipping Christ – not with the pagans in a worldly saturnalia, in a beer-drinking orgy, or a Christless carousal! Have done with it! Come and worship Christ on New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve! Come, like the wise men, and worship Christ alone!

O come, let us adore Him,
   O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
   Christ the Lord.

Stand and sing it with me!

O come, let us adore Him,
   O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
   Christ the Lord.
(“O Come, All Ye Faithful,” translated by Frederick Oakeley, 1802-1880).

Amen! You may be seated.

But instead of preaching a sermon on those themes, I will speak on our text in Matthew 2:11,

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).

I. First, they came into the house.

The text says, “When they were come into the house.” “But,” you may say, “Wasn’t Christ born in a cow-stable and laid in a manger?” Yes, He was. The Gospel of Luke says,

“She brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes [in strips of cloth], and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).

But the wise men did not come into a stable and find the baby Jesus in a manger. No, they came “into the house” (Matthew 2:11). The wise men did not come at the same time as the shepherds. The shepherds found the baby Jesus in the stable, in a manger, a trough that held hay for the animals to eat. The shepherds came shortly after Jesus was born. But the wise men came later. They came after Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus had moved into a small house, for all the houses were very small then. But now they were in a house.

Dr. McGee said it was probably several months after His birth that the wise men came and brought Him gifts. You see, they probably saw the star at the time of Christ’s birth. Then they decided to come to Him, and it took them several months to get there. This is backed up by the fact that Jesus would already have been circumcised, and a pair of doves were offered in the Temple (Luke 2:24). The fact that they did not offer a lamb shows that they were very poor. If the wise men had already come, with their expensive gifts, they would have offered a lamb. These events show that the wise men came several months after the birth of Jesus.

I should tell you that the star was a supernatural “nova,” which the dictionary says is “a star that suddenly increases its light output tremendously and then fades away to its former obscurity in a few months” (Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary). They saw this star in the east. Then it seems to have disappeared. But when the wise men got to Jerusalem, the star appeared again. When they saw the star again “they rejoiced with exceeding great joy” (Matthew 2:10). But this was no regular star. It moved “till it came and stood over where the young child was” (Matthew 2:9). Some commentators compare it to the “Shekinah” light of the Old Testament, and the pillar of fire that guided the children of Israel in the wilderness at night, which “went before them... to lead them...by night in a pillar of fire” (Exodus 13:21).

The wise men came a long distance. They sacrificed a great deal and went through many trials and hardships to come to Jesus in that little house in Bethlehem. Let each one of us follow their example and be in church on Christmas Eve – instead of running off to some worldly party or event! Sing that chorus again! Stand and sing it.

O come, let us adore Him,
   O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
   Christ the Lord.

II. Second, they fell down and worshipped Him.

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him...” (Matthew 2:11).

Some unbelieving so-called “scholars” and cults have said it is wrong to worship Jesus. They say we should only worship God. That shows they are ignorant of the Bible, because Jesus is the incarnation of God – God in human flesh! The Apostle John called Jesus “the Word” in the first chapter of John. And the Apostle said,

“The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Charles Wesley, in his great Christmas hymn, said,

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,
   Hail the Incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
   Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
   “Glory to the newborn King.”
(“Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).

Then, notice that the wise men “saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him” (Matthew 2:11). Dr. J. Vernon McGee said, “If there ever was a time when Mary should have been worshipped, this was it. But they didn’t worship her – they were wise men! They worshipped Him...” (ibid.; note on Matthew 2:11). The Bible never tells us to worship the Virgin Mary, or pray to her! She should be honored as the Mother of Jesus, but we are never to worship her, or pray to her.

O come, let us adore Him,
   O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
   Christ the Lord.

When the Disciples saw the risen Christ in Galilee we are told,

“When they saw him, they worshipped him...” (Matthew 28:17; Luke 24:52).

Amen! Let us all worship Him in church on Christmas Eve, for He alone is worthy of our worship at Christmas, and throughout the year!

III. Third, they presented Him with gifts.

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).

“They presented unto him gifts...” Dr. John R. Rice said,

They fell on their faces and worshipped Him! Then with tears of joy, and with trembling lips, and pulses running wild with gladness, their nervous fingers unlocked the little cabinets, or unwrapped the thongs that bound their treasures and, opening them, they gave the Lord Jesus Christ the finest of all they had! (John R. Rice, D.D., “Gifts of the Wise Men,” I Love Christmas, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1955, p. 47).

Then Dr. Rice said,

They opened their treasures and gave gifts to the Lord Jesus. And I beg you today...take Jesus Christ into the innermost secrets of your heart, lay bare your treasures, and give Him the choicest and best of everything, yea, give Him all, and rejoice that He deigns [condescends] to take them (ibid., p. 48).

I have always loved that old song by Frances Havergal, “Take My Life, and Let it Be,”

Take my life, and let it be, Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love, At the impulse of Thy love.

Take my lips and let them be Filled with messages for Thee,
Take my silver and my gold,
Not a might would I withhold, Not a mite would I withhold.

Take my love, my God, I pour At Thy feet its treasure store,
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee, Ever, only, all for Thee.
   (“Take My Life, and Let it Be” by Frances R. Havergal, 1836-1879).

All for Jesus! All for Jesus!
   All my being’s ransomed powers;
All for Jesus, all for Jesus!
   All my days and all my hours.
(“All For Jesus” by Mary D. James, 1810-1883).

If those songs mean anything at all, they certainly teach us to be in church, worshipping Christ on Christmas Eve – rather than going to a worldly party!

When the wise men worshipped the Lord Jesus, they gave Him gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. These were very expensive gifts, the very best that the wise men had. The gold pictures tribute to a king. The frankincense was a costly incense. The church father Origen (185-254) said it was the incense of deity. Origen was wrong on some things, but he was right about this. Frankincense spoke of Him as the incarnate God. Myrrh was a spice used by the Jewish people when they buried the dead. In John 19:39 we are told that Nicodemus brought myrrh and put it on the dead body of Jesus, “as the manner of the Jews is to bury.” Gold for a king. Frankincense for the incarnate God. Myrrh for Him who would suffer and die on the Cross to pay the full penalty for our sins. Please stand and sing hymn number five on your song sheet,

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
   O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem!
Come and behold Him, born the King of angels;
   O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation!
   O sing, all ye bright hosts of heaven above;
Glory to God, all glory in the highest;
   O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, Born this happy morning,
   Jesus, to Thee be all glory given;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing,
   O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.
     (“O Come, All Ye Faithful,” translated by Frederick Oakeley, 1802-1880).

And if you are not yet saved, come to Him! Trust Him and He will pardon your sin, and wash you clean with His precious Blood! Amen. Dr. Chan, please lead us in prayer.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Matthew 2:1-10.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“We Three Kings” (by John H. Hopkins, Jr., 1820-1891).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE GIFTS OF THE WISE MEN

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11).

(Daniel 2:27; Matthew 2:9, 2; II Corinthians 6:17, 18)

I.   First, they came into the house, Luke 2:7, 24; Matthew 2:10, 9;
Exodus 13:21.

II.  Second, they fell down and worshipped Him, John 1:14;
Matthew 28:17; Luke 24:52.

III. Third, they presented Him with gifts, John 19:39.