Rev. Trevor Johnston
Sermon Series: Stable Talk
Sermon 3: RSVP to the Stable
- Tell about an interesting Santa experience you’ve had.
- Read Matthew 2:1-12:
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 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.” 3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 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. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: 6 “‘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.'” 7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 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.” 9 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. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 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. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
What questions or comments do you have about this passage?
- Trevor taught us about the Magi. They’ve been called kings or wise men, but they were actually astrologers, probably from the area that is now Iran. Somehow a tradition developed that there were three of them, but the Bible doesn’t specify the number – it may have been an entire caravan. Even though astrology is not in line with God’s will, God honored their desire to find and worship the King of the Jews. Remember that they were from an enemy people with a totally different religion, yet they sensed this event was important enough to go to a lot of effort to do.
Describe the effort that you are currently making to pursue Jesus, so you can find Him and worship Him.
- Trevor connected the story of the Magi to Jesus’ parable in Luke 14:15-24:
When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” 16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ 19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ 21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ 22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ 23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.'”
Jesus is using this party metaphor to tell us about God’s invitation to connect with Him through Jesus Christ. What are some of the things that caused the people in this parable to turn down the invitation to this wonderful party? What parallels do you see in our world today?
We see three types of people in this passage:
- Magi = The Spiritually Seeking
From the Magi, we learn 4 things:
- You don’t need to have the right background to follow Jesus.
Why do some people feel like they’re not good enough to come into a church building?
- God wants to be found by you
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.
How do you feel when you read these verses?
- Some things will seem different to you when you first start following Jesus.
What are some things that seemed strange to you, when you first started coming to church?
- Some people will be troubled by your quest to follow Jesus, even threatened.
Have you ever experienced this? Tell the group about what happened.
- Herod = The Spiritually Disconnected
John 15:5-6 describes what it means to be spiritually disconnected:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”
Based on this passage, what does it mean to be spiritually disconnected, and what’s the result?
- When other people begin to seek Jesus when we are not, it threatens us.
If someone gets irritated when a loved one begins to seek Jesus, what might be going on in their heart?
- You can’t “outsource” your relationship with God.
What did Pastor Trevor mean by this?
- Teachers and Priests = The Spiritually Asleep
The teachers of the law should have been eager to follow the Magi. But they were spiritually asleep, so they didn’t bother.
Read Romans 13:11:
And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.
What did Trevor mean by the expression “spiritually asleep”?
How do we avoid becoming spiritually asleep, especially when we’ve been in the Christian faith for a long time?
Pastor Trevor described how to practice the presence of God. God is here. We just need to become aware of His presence and open ourselves up to Him.