The First Missions Conference

by Kevin Kutcel

Matthew 2:1-12

We are going to celebrate a great Christmas story, but live on the side of reality, by discussing the visit of the Magi from Matthew 2. I also call it the first global missions conference because it reminds us that God welcomes everyone to worship Him regardless of your background or nationality. Follow the outline below.

  1. Matthew is the only gospel account that provides this story to us.
    1. Who are these “Magi”? – We have more western tradition than facts.
        1. Who were they and where did they come from?
          1. Western church – Kings bringing gifts
          2. Magi – “Magos” – priestly class from Persia (Iran)
            1. Babylon (Iraq) – noted for astrology
              1. Lean towards Babylon (Iraq) because they would have been very familiar with the Jewish Torah and astrology.
                1. Prophesy – Numbers 24:17

“A star will come out of Jacob: a scepter will rise out of Israel.”

            1. Travel 900 miles – about 1-2 months
        1. How many were there?
          1. Western church traditionally says 3 because there were 3 gifts.
        1. Eastern Orthodox churches traditionally say 12.

◆  We have no idea, but I think it was a large group due to the distance they traveled and the reaction in Jerusalem.

        1. What was the star they followed? Must be something very bright.
          1. Verse 2 – imply the star appeared (when the star arose)

Chinese astronomers reported a long tailed, slow moving comet in the Capricorn region of the sky for 70 days in 5 BC documented in the The Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society.  Book “The Great Christ Comet” by Cambridge professor Colin Nicholl (2015)

◆ Now that we have discussed everything that we don’t know but pretend that we do, let’s talk about what we do know for sure.

What we know for certain

  1. A group of Magi from through the gates of Jerusalem and inquire “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?  We saw his star in the east and we have come to worship Him.” (verse 2)
        1. You don’t have to be a theologian to see the irony here.
      1. Group of Gentiles from Babylon comes to the center of Jewish culture and study and authority and proclaims that they saw the star indicating the birth of the Messiah and they want to worship Him.
      2. This news gets to King Herod’s palace
        1. Reaction  of Jerusalem and King Herod – “disturbed”
        2. Instead of being excited and filled with joy, the leaders see it as a political problem.
        3. Herod calls together the chief priests and teachers of the law and asks where the Messiah is to be born.
        4. Provide the prophesy that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem from Micah 5:2.

◆  Even though many in Jerusalem heard the news and “were disturbed”, no one can be bothered to travel the 5 miles to Bethlehem to check it out.

Richard Glover “It is strange how much the scribes knew and what little use they made of it.”

“A knowledge of God does not guarantee a love for God.”

  1. Why the great effort to see Jesus?  Who is the Messiah?
      1. Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
      2. Hebrews 1:2 – “through whom he made the universe.”
      3. Hebrews 1:10 – “In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your Hands.”
      4. Colossians 1:16  – “For by Him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth…all things were created by Him and for Him.”

ILLUS:  University of Arizona show.

  1. The Magi came to worship the Creator
    1. When they found the house they were “overjoyed” (verse 10).
      1. NT usage – when disciples see Jesus after the resurrection.
    2. They walk into the house, they see a young boy with their mother and they bowed down and worship Him.
      1. We need to pause for a moment and think about this.
      2. The first people to worship Jesus are Gentiles.
      3. They were looking into the eyes of the one who created the universe and would save humanity and they responded in adoration and worship.
      4. These humble Gentiles believed the Torah, acted in faith and worshipped Jesus as compared to the Jewish leaders who could not even travel 5 miles.

Question:  Which group loves God?

Matthew – Sending a clear message to His Jewish audience.

  1. Jesus is our Messiah, our creator and our savior.
    1. He is worthy of our worship.
    2. Your position and your prestige will not save you, only your worship of Jesus.

◆ Matthew is giving us the same message.

Personal Illustration

  1. I went to seminary and have a M.Div.
  2. My wife has a M.Div.
  3. Was an assistant pastor in England.
  4. Planted a church in Omaha.
  5. Ordained in the CMA
  6. Served overseas in Poland.

What is most important about Kevin Kutcel in the eyes of God is not what I know or what I have done, but who I love.

We must always remember that our relationship with God is personal.

“How tragic that we in this dark day have had our seeking done for us by our teachers.  Everything is made to center upon the initial act of accepting Christ and we are not expected thereafter to crave any further revelation of God to our souls.  We have been snared in the coils of spurious logic which insists that if we have found Him, we need no more seek Him”  Pursuit of God  AW Tozer

The greatest commandment “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

Jesus is worthy of our worship because He is our creator and our savior.