What Made the Wise Men Wise?

Text: Matthew 2:1-12

The wise men are a common feature in the Christmas story.  There are a few myths about the wise men that have become tradition over the years.  First, that the wise men were at the manger when Jesus was born.  That’s not true.  Second, that there were three of them.  There was an entourage of wise men from the east, but we don’t know how many of them there were.  There were three gifts mentioned and that’s where someone got the number three wise men.  Third, that this was an official entourage from a distant country.  One of those familiar hymns says We Three Kings.  In reality they weren’t kings, they weren’t public officials, they weren’t coming on behalf of any government, God only classifies them as wise men.

Their desire to see Jesus made them wise (vss 1-2)

  • It is not so much the right answer every time, but the pursuit, the desire to know him.
  • It’s an approach more than a destination.  An appetite, a thirst, more than a location.
    • Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
    • Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
  • A greater desire than the unknown that was ahead.
  • A greater desire than the personal cost to them.
  • A greater desire than the time it would take to find the Lord.
  • A greater desire than the distance they would have to travel to find him.
  • Philippians 3:7-10 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

They were wise to follow the God given light they had (vss 9-10)

  • That star has piqued many a Christian’s interests as to what it was.  Our Sun is a star, but it would be impossible to figure out what house it was sitting over at any particular time of day.
    • The light was visible where they were.
    • The light led them in the right direction.
    • The light stopped at the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • In Job 38-39 God dealt with Job on the basis of creation just like God deals with any Gentile who does not have all the physical imagery and types given to the Jews.
  • God put the beginning in the beginning of His book because it is rudimentary to what follows in the words of God.  The world teaches as doctrine the absence of any Creator, so parents must be careful to reinforce in their children the truth that they are created beings and the Creator desires very much to fellowship with them.  Secondly, that they are accountable to their Creator.  Thirdly, because God is the Creator there is much you can learn in the earth about God’s attributes.
  • External witness in creation
    • Luke 12:24-28 God’s provision
    • Psalm 19 God’s sovereignty
    • Malachi 3:3 God’s holiness like fire
    • Proverbs 26:11 dogs and fools
    • Proverbs 11:22 pig and women
    • Matthew 7:15 wolves and false prophets
    • 1 Peter 5:8 lion like the devil (looking for prey like in Job)
  • Internal witness in conscience
    • In the mouth of two or three witnesses is every word established.  First witness, creation.  Second witness, conscience.  And there will even be a third witness.
    • But God didn’t Create in order to corner man in a box, He did it to fellowship with Him.  What Creation turns into for man who rejects God is a witness against him.
    • You can’t point the finger and then claim ignorance before God.  You can’t take your measuring stick of righteousness and put it up against someone you don’t like without God taking that same measuring stick and putting it up to you.
    • Matthew 7:2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
    • Romans 2:3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

They were wise because the joy of the Lord was their strength (vss 9-10)

  • Supply of strength
    • Lose your joy you lose your strength.
    • Nehemiah 8:10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.
    • Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
  • Acts 5:40-42 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. 42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
  • Cynicism is dangerous.  David wrote, I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes.  David was betrayed, persecuted, and hunted.  Then he recorded, I said in my haste all men are liars.
    • Be careful that you don’t fall into the trap that you would RATHER believe evil than good.
    • We’ve become vultures circling the carcass.  We fly around the dead things, the “I told you so”.  We find satisfaction in being right that everything was going to go wrong.
  • First of all, rejoice evermore is a complete sentence.  It is an instruction.
    • So we are capable of doing it, though it isn’t something that comes naturally.
    • Joy is an inside job.
  • Insight – All circumstances have value to the child of God
  • Evermore is an eternal state.  Rejoicing is the natural state of the child of God.
  • The point is to rejoice in the Lord.  It’s not a positive attitude I need.  What I need to focus on and think about and ponder is the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Then relish thoughts of him.

They were wise because their offerings meant something to them (vs 11)

  • Gold – universally recognized value
  • Then they brought some essential oils
    • Frankincense – an oil that is burned and perfumed the tabernacle
    • Myrrh – an oil that perfumes to cover other smells.  Used in Christ’s burial.
  • They brought costly goods to the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • 2 Samuel 24:24 And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.
  • Abraham said of Isaac that he and the lad would go worship.

They were wise to leave a different way than they came (vs 12)

  • SEAL training – find another way out.
  • To make an application, after you’ve been with Jesus, you shouldn’t leave the way you came.